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Drinking Water Pollution

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Drinking Water Pollution in Los Angeles
INTRODUCTION
Since the dawn of the world, water has been the most important resource for human development. Not only because of its use in human sustenance but for the industrial use that throughout the years has spiked its current amount of pollution and associated problems.
In a state as dry as California is, water management can take a titanic effort. Likewise, with the number of population currently living in Los Angeles and its surrounding areas, keeping drinking water drinkable, and avoiding further pollution of the available resources is an essential part of maintaining the city’s infrastructure together. California water systems serve around 30 million people, and it is considered the world’s largest water system (Hundley 60). This means that any possible problem could escalate to a national tragedy,
According to the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC 1), water is considered the most significant natural resource affecting the growth of the state. That way, if water is polluted, not even the city’s regular drinking water is safe from pollution.
SCOPE OF THE PROBLEM
This essay aims to show how pollution of Los Angeles water has affected the city’s everyday drinking water, which is strongly related to possible effects on its citizen’s health.
IDENTIFICATION OF THE PROBLEM
Current State of Los Angeles’ Drinking Water
In its 2014 report, Los Angeles Public Health Office (LAPHO 1) noted the extensive use of bottled drinking water by the citizens.

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This leads to the thought that each year an increasing amount of residents is concerned about the quality of their water supply Water, regardless of their origin can contain a variety of chemical impurities and hazardous materials that can taint its quality, rendering poisonous or undrinkable. However, it is important to note that water drawn from populated or industrialized areas can be severely polluted by the myriad of chemicals and wastes coming from households and industries. That way, despite the efforts of the EPA to protect the country’s water quality, unsafe levels of bacteria and chemicals can still affect the final consumer.
Los Angeles gets at least 30% of its drinking water from underground sources, and with droughts such as those of 2014, the city’s water service has been severely compromised and carries high concentrations of chemicals often found in agricultural products (Belitz et al. 3). That way, water coming from underground aquifers is more polluted by external contaminants than it is by the natural chemicals present in the soil.
Also, given the fact that a 58% of the water consumed in the city comes from outside the country and the state indicates that the sources can be polluted or affected by the drought, which leads to the use of imported water to meet the city’s needs (UCLA 11). Another important aspect of the problem comes from the difficulties of assessing the country’s water quality, since the water supply is controlled by a large number of retailers, difficulting the access to accurate information about the consumer trends.
CAUSES OF THE PROBLEM
Causes of Los Angeles Drinking Water Pollution
According to a UCLA research (Gold et al. 21), the quality of the city’s drinking water is steadily declining. Surface water quality is poor and has not improved in the past years. In the same way, approximately 85% of the city’s rivers and water bodies are impaired by at least one pollutant. The primary pollutants of Los Angeles drinking water supplies are of natural origin, and approximately 65% of the assessed water bodies are impacted by pathogens coming from fecal matter. This means that to keep the water drinkable, the city’s water supply company has to use more chemicals to treat the water and effectively remove all the pollutants present to make it drinkable.
Los Angeles drinking water supply might be tainted by chemical byproducts of its disinfection. For instance, Trihalomethanes are byproducts of the addition of chlorine to polluted water and are linked ti cancers and miscarriages (Moline 1). Likewise, hexavalent chromium, an industrial waste found to cause cancer has been found in the city’s drinkable water, yet its levels are not high enough to cause health problems. Last, but not least, uranium leaching to groundwater due to questionable agricultural practices are known to cause kidney diseases when people are exposed to it in a long term (NRDC 1).
CONSEQUENCES OF THIS ISSUE
To keep the essay short and coherent, it will focus on the health consequences of consuming polluted water.
Health Consequences
Despite the lengths that the city’s water supply goes to ensure its water quality, there is some risk of finding harmful toxins and compounds in the city’s drinking water. For instance, nitrates, a chemical often found in fertilizer contaminates drinking water in agricultural areas. Although this might not be the case in the city of Los Angeles since most of the water the city consumes comes from outside sources, it is important to mention nitrates as a health hazard. Nitrate poisoning symptoms include shortness of breath; and blue-tinted skin (EPA 1).
Bacteria is also another significant contaminant in the city’s water supply. Although tests show the absence of it, it does not mean it is safe to drink. Coliforms and E. Coli can be present in water and lead to intestinal illnesses. Situations such as torrential rains and industrial seepage can severely hinder underground water supply and without correct planning, the health of many citizens.
CONTRIBUTION TO THE PROBLEM
Lifestyle Contributions
It is not hard to help to preserve and reusing water in the city. For instance, it is known that the same drinkable tap water from the city’s supply is used to flush toilets. This is a problem since a principal amount of potable water gets wasted, and just a small part of it is reused. There are many ways to save water and help to prevent its overuse. Nevertheless, most of those alternatives remain only in the sphere of the consumer. To make a change in the city’s regulations, it would take a greater effort of organized citizens pushing laws that protect the consumer from the noxious chemicals found in the underground water supply. From a personal perspective, most people in the city knows the problem that exists in the city and agree with the measures the city has imposed as a way to improve the city’s water quality, but these initiatives need more drive to be entirely satisfactory.
ACTIONS BEING TAKEN
Water Recycling in Los Angeles
Only 4% of the water consumed in the city comes from recycled sources. However, that situation is about to change, as the production costs of recycling water to make it drinkable have decreased over time. Los Angeles Metropolitan Water District has a plan to purify as much as 168,000 acre-feet of water a year (Stevens and Morin 1). However, the MWD plans to build a plant and process water. However, this process is slow, and could take more than a decade to be fully deployed
On the economic side, the MWD found that treating and purifying sewage water can cost approximately $900 per acre-foot, compared with $1,400 for imported water. It seems that treating sewage water is not only the most environmentally sound option but the most economically viable possibility. Nevertheless, it could be hard finding the funding sources needed to complete the project. Sadly, economic reasons are more important that improving the city’s life standards.
WHAT MUST BE DONE?
From a personal perspective, it seems that demographic expansion throughout the centuries has severely hindered the city’s water quality. Los Angeles was built in a semi-arid zone and finding adequate sources of drinking water have been hard from the beginning. In a country expanding as fast as the United States, water has become a vital resource that must be treated accordingly. Initiatives such as recycling and drinking water are not as gross as they sound, as tap water is safer than most bottled water companies. Besides, if the country keeps expanding, recycling every possible resource is essential to keep up with the life standards our population is used to. In the same way, purifying initiatives such as the reverse osmosis process, that removes any taste from the water can be utilized in a way that people never realizes they are drinking recycled water.
Los Angeles, being one of the most populated cities in the country has to adapt to the new technologies and accept that the future is not linked to exploiting necessary resources, but it is firmly pegged to recycling and reusing any possible resource.
Works Cited
Belitz, K., M.S. Fram, and T.D. Johnson. “Metrics for Assessing the Quality of Groundwater Used for Public Supply, CA, USA: Equivalent-Population and Area.” Environmental Science & Technology Environ. Sci. Technol. 49.14 (2015): 8330-338. ACS. Web. 26 Sept. 2015. <http://pubs.acs.org/doi/full/10.1021/acs.est.5b00265>.
Gold, M., S. Pinceti, and F. Federico. “2015 Environmental Report Card for Los Angeles County.” UCLA, 1 May 2015. Web. 26 Sept. 2015. <http://www.environment.ucla.edu/perch/resources/report-card-2015-water.pdf>.
Moline, P. “What’s in the Water That Comes from L.A. Taps?” L.A. Times 27 Mar. 2015. L.A. Times. Web. 25 Sept. 2015. <http://www.latimes.com/health/la-he-water-la-20150328-story.html>.
“Study Finds Safety of Drinking Water in U.S. Cities at Risk.” Natural Resources Defense Council. NRDC, 2015. Web. 26 Sept. 2015. <http://www.nrdc.org/water/drinking/uscities.asp>.
“The Effects: Human Health.” Environmental Protection Agency. EPA, 26 Aug. 2015. Web. 26 Sept. 2015. <http://www2.epa.gov/nutrientpollution/effects-human-health>.
“Toxicology and Environmental Assessment.” LA County Department of Public Health. 2015. Web. 26 Sept. 2015. <http://www.publichealth.lacounty.gov/eh/TEA/ToxicEpi/water.htm>.

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