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Polluted Waters

5 billion people are affected by water pollution

“The world’s rivers are so badly affected by human activity that the water security of almost 5 billion people, and the survival of thousands of aquatic species, are threatened”

The Guardian, 2010

Agricultural run-off feeds algal blooms and suffocates aquatic life

“High levels of nitrate can cause an abundance of algae in water bodies, which in turn robs water of oxygen as bacteria break down the excess organic matter. Fish and other aquatic animals begin to suffocate, and stress is usually evident when oxygen drops below 3 milligrams per litre of water”

National Geographic, 2013

50% world’s major rivers polluted or depleted

“Half the world’s major rivers are being seriously polluted and or depleted”

The Nature Conservancy, 2015

13% of europe’s groundwater is polluted

“13% of the groundwater monitoring stations across Europe, in 2009, exceed the 50 mg of nitrates per litre limit”

European Commission, 2012

40% of us rivers too polluted for swimming

“About 40% of rivers and lakes in the US surveyed by the EPA are too polluted for swimming or fishing”

The Nature Conservancy, 2015

Water from a drying California lake causing toxic air pollution

“[California] state’s largest lake, the 350-square-mile Salton Sea, [is] burping up hydrogen sulphide, a gas created by the decaying organic matter trapped beneath the water… The hydrogen sulphide can
be smelled as far as 130 miles away in Los Angeles. But the smell is only one small part of a more serious public-health problem, one that has the potential to affect millions of people in southern California and beyond…As the playa is exposed, it dries quickly in the desert heat and sun; desert winds kick up the dust, creating a serious air-pollution problem”

The Atlantic, 2015

60% of china’s groundwater is polluted

“Nearly 60% of China’s ground water is polluted, only 3% of the China’s urban groundwater can be classified as clean”

The Guardian, 2014

12 Million die annually from water shortages /contamination

“Every year, 12 million people die as a result of water shortages or contaminated drinking water

International Fund for Agricultural Development, 2001

1.5 Million children die annually from water shortages/contamination

“UNICEF reports that 1.5 million young children die every year due to lack of safe water and sanitation”

UNICEF, 2006

Agricultural water use changes ecosystems, and costs $20 billion to the us annually

“The way that water is managed in agriculture has caused wide-scale changes in ecosystems and undermined the provision of a wide range of ecosystem services. The external cost of the damage to people and ecosystems, and clean-up processes, from the agricultural sector is significant. In the United States of America the estimated cost is US$9–20 billion per year”

United Nations, 2006


Californian agriculture creates 96% of nitrate pollution

“In California agriculture accounts for 96% of total nitrate water contamination, including 54% from synthetic fertilizers and 33% from animal manure”

Grace Communications Foundation, 2015

Agriculture accounts for 80% of us nitrogen pollution

“Agricultural activities in the United States, primarily row crop and livestock production, account for over 80% of all nitrogen added to the environment”

Environmental Working Group, 1996

1m3 wastewater contaminates over 1000m3

“1m³ of non-treated wastewater may spoil over 1000m³ of fresh water for human consumption or other activities”

Reuters, 2010

Agriculture is the leading cause of water pollution in the US

“Agriculture is the leading source of pollution in assessed rivers and streams. In the United States it affects 18%, and contributes to 48% of reported water quality in these rivers and streams”

United States Environmental Protection Agency, 2000

80% of global sewage/agricultural waste is untreated

“2 million tonnes of sewage and agricultural waste is put into the world’s waterways every day, more than 80% of this wastewater is untreated”

United Nations Environment Programme, 2010

A cow produces 120 lbs. of manure daily

“According to the EPA, a 2,000-cow dairy generates more than 240,000 pounds of manure daily or nearly 90 million pounds a year”

Yale University, 2014