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Water pollution refers to when non-naturally occurring substances build up in water to an extent that causes problems for organisms making use of the water. Large bodies of water have the ability to somewhat naturally clean a certain amount of pollution by harmlessly dispersing it and thereby lowering its concentration. There are two main ways to determine the pollution levels of water; chemical and biological indicators. Chemical indicators is when water samples are taken and the concentration of different chemicals within the sample is measured, if dangerous chemicals or high concentrations are measured the water is polluted. Biological indicators are when aquatic life is examined, the greater the variety of life being sustained is, the less polluted the water is.
There are several different causes of water pollution, although the water pollution post by Chris Woodford states that the most prominent ones are sewage, nutrients, waste water, oil spillage, plastics and alien species (Woodford, 2017). In some cases, two of these causes can join forces and create an upheaval as proved when the KZN river was polluted by sewage three years back (Ndaliso, 2015). Due to an oil spillage close to a waste water plant, there was a sewage spillage in the river. Food technologist, Dawn Bester, had had the water tested and resulted in being eighty times more than the acceptable contamination levels; she then declared the river to be “a dead river exposing people to diseases.”. Due to it’s coastal province status, KwaZulu Natal is known for water-based food source. However, due to water pollution, a rise is seen in the death or aquatic animals. Branching off this, there is a disturbance in the food chain. Pollutants are consumed by fish which then get eaten by humans. If the original pollutant is lead-related, it is possible for people to get lead poisoning from the (sea)food they eat. There have been many cases, especially in the rural areas, where people have contracted cholera and other various diseases due to the waters they either bath, drink or fish in being contaminated. Because of this, it is very possible for KwaZulu Natal to see a drop in living condition rankings. Citizens are more likely to move to a province with less exposure to water-pollution whereas residents in the rural areas will see an increase in ill-health as they would be in constant exposure to contaminated water and food.
Thankfully, there are several methods to control and/or minimise water pollution such as education, laws and economics. In terms of economics and law; there are several measures put in place thanks to Part 4 of the National Water Act. As stated in the News24 article, “Industrial water polluters are set to be fined up to R1 million, and R5 000 a day for ongoing offences, as Msunduzi Municipality cracks down on offenders.” (Ntuli, 2018) In addition to this, smaller changes have also been made to discourage water pollution such as the increasing costs of plastic bags and any other non-recyclable material – minimizing the chances of it finding its way to sea – and the installation of looped piping systems in factories – so that they become the first victims of pollution caused by their factory – . Additionally, educating the citizens on the matter proves to be beneficial, for example years back when several surfers realised they were catching illnesses from sewage-polluted waters, they formed a group SAS, Surfers Against Sewage, to corner the government and water companies into taking action. If the citizens of KwaZulu Natal are educated on the matter, they can adopt preventative measures into their household or even group together to form clean-up crew organisations. In addition to this, if the citizens are aware, it is more likely that the municipalities and government would have these issues addressed and taken more seriously.
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