Water Pollution in Australia:
Water pollution is a common environmental issue in almost every part of the world. And Australia shows such scenarios of water pollution that we must need to understand deeply.
For example, water pollution at the Great barrier reef creates unfavorable conditions for the biodiversity of that area. Further, waste materials in the coastal area become a significant problem for the local communities. It also destroys the beauty of natural sites.
There might be several reasons for the water pollution cases in Australia. Further, as the driest inhabited continent, we need special care to reduce the deterioration of the essential natural resource. We need to visualize the issues to reduce the impact and move towards our sustainable development goals.
In this article, we will explain some comprehensive information about water pollution in Australia. So, let’s dive right in.
Table of Contents
- 1 How Bad Is Water Pollution in Australia?
- 2 Causes of Water Pollution in Australia
- 3 Point sources
- 4 Diffuse Sources
- 5 How to Stop Water Pollution in Australia?
- 6 Conclusion
How Bad Is Water Pollution in Australia?
Before going into the causes, effects, and prevention, we need to understand how bad the scenario is.
As per a study, the primary type of pollution is plastic pollution. And it is estimated as 4,000 tiny plastics per square kilometer of marine atmosphere.
This impacts both the marine ecosystem and the dependent communities that are directly or indirectly dependent on oceans for their food.
Besides plastics, other contaminants in the water bodies of Australia include pesticides, herbicides, metals, terrigenous sediments, and debris.
Further, according to an environmental pollution report, the coastal rivers and estuary have been subjected to pollution since 2011, and the condition is moderate to poor. Most developed estuaries are the center of pollution in eastern states.
Its impact is directly on the aquatic ecosystem. Some of the effects of water pollution issues in Australia include;
- Ingestion of toxic materials by shorebirds, turtles, and other marine organisms.
- Extensive coral bleaching leads to the deterioration of coral ecosystems.
- Kelp forest loss .
- Destruction of habitats; sometimes the exclusive ones.
- Increased mortality among invertebrates.
- Bioaccumulation of toxic microplastics.
Some reports show that about 5000–15000 turtles have been trapped in pollutants in the Gulf of Carpentaria. The same happens at every other water body.
Some other effects of water pollution in Australia include poisoning, eutrophication (algal bloom, for example), and siltation.
But how do all these pollutants accumulate in the water bodies? This takes us toward the next point.
Causes of Water Pollution in Australia
The significant causes of Water pollution in Australia comprise the following two sources:
The known or identifiable sources of waste are the point types. For instance, the wastewater removed from the industries through pipes is one type of point water pollution source. Another example is the sewage system.
Some of the point sources of water pollution in Australia include the following:
Household wastes include some organic materials like vegetables, fruit, other food wastes, sewage, paper wastes, and other wastes like plastics, glass materials, and chemicals from the products we use regularly.
According to an article by ABC, about 10,000-12,000 disposable menstrual products are used by an average Australian Woman in their lifetime.
That is a considerable amount. And if there is the only usage of sanitary pads, it can affect the environment adversely. This is because pads take 500–800 years to degrade. If disposed of in the sewage system, these items can create hurdles.
Office and Schools
Some office and school wastes include stationary plastics, papers, and organic waste materials.
Industrial and Agricultural Sources
The wastewater after treatment is released into the major water bodies like rivers and oceans. Like sewage treatment plants, the toxins from oil refineries, paper, and pulp mills, automobile, chemical, and electronic manufacturers contribute to the water pollution in Australia.
The soil and chemicals like herbicides, pesticides, and fertilizers are also significant sources of contamination for water bodies. However, for such disposal, authorities need to take a license as per the Environmental protection Act 1994.
The other pollutant source for water pollution in Australia is diffuse sources. Diffuse means a non-point source or unidentifiable source of pollution that might be caused due to natural runoffs.
The runoff wastes from different industries and agricultural areas finally merge into the larger water bodies when they enter the storm water drains.
Overall, the primary types of water pollutants include the following;
These include pathogenic and non-pathogenic micro-organisms. For example, E. coli.
Single-use plastic bags, containers, wrappers, etc., are the significant causes of biodiversity loss in different coastal locations. Further, the collected litter ruins the beauty of recreational sites.
Heavy metals from the acid sulfate soils and other manufacturing industries also contribute to water pollution in Australia. The dissolved oxygen levels and pH get disturbed through such toxins. Further, flooding and other natural disasters cause the runaway of heavy metals into the water bodies.
Debris and build-up leaf litters during blackwater events
Such waste materials also reduce the dissolved oxygen in water bodies.
Industrial and agricultural chemicals
Industrial and agricultural chemicals contribute a massive part to the water pollution in Australia. Furthermore, bushfire events also cause a large amount of runoff to the major water bodies and harm the entire food web.
How to Stop Water Pollution in Australia?
The government has taken several preventive measures to prevent water pollution in Australia.
For controlling the impact of acid sulfate soils, some guidelines are provided to assist land and water managers. This guideline provides a grasp on the impact of acid sulfate soil on our environment and all its components.
Some of the effects of blackwater events include the destruction of local fish habitats. And to prevent it, actions are taken. The aftermath of bushfires can be prevented by close inspection and preventive measures.
The water runoffs from the cities and urban areas cause severe damage to the marine and other aquatic ecosystems. This eventually affects the human population. For the management of such risks of water pollution in Australia, the central framework includes;
- Urban stormwater management techniques.
- Water recycling through augmentation of drinking waste supplies and stormwater harvesting and reuse techniques.
The National Water Quality Management Strategy (NWQMS) creates systems for managing the issues regarding water quality. Case studies show the initiatives taken to prevent the water resources in Australia from polluting and affecting the entire ecosystem.
The Australian marine ecosystem covers about 13.86 million square kilometers and is widely known as the third-largest marine jurisdiction.
85% of Australians live within 100 kilometers of the marine environment and largely depend on marine products for their living. And you might already know that the Great Barrier Reef in Australia is the world’s largest coral reef ecosystem that accounts for the harvest of a vast amount of seafood.
Overall, the ocean water bodies are the identity of Australia that provides enormous economic benefits to the countries on this continent.
Therefore, it’s crucial to understand the water pollution issues in Australia and take preventive measures to secure our dependency on such substantial natural resources.