The Effects of Water Pollution
Water pollution caused by point source and non-point source pollution can have devastating effects on aquatic ecosystems. One of the most apparent ways this happens involves an oversupply of nitrogen being discharged into our rivers and streams. This excess of nitrogen is the result of an overuse of fertilizer.
Fertilizer runoff comes from both commercial farms and from private homeowners who fertilize their lawns. All of this runoff is concentrated into the Mississippi River and is eventually washed out into the Gulf of Mexico. There, the nitrogen and nutrient rich water cause great blooms of algae to form. Once the algae die, they begin to decompose and the oxygen in the water is depleted until there is almost none left. Because of this depletion, almost nothing can grow in this area of the Gulf of Mexico which is now called the “dead zone”. The zone is approximately the size of New Jersey, and there are no fish or other aquatic animals which can survive in this area due to the oxygen depletion.
For more information about this dead zone and the effects of water pollution on aquatic ecosystems, read this article by Carol Kaeusuk Yoon, which was published in the New York Times.