The Effects of Water Pollution
Water pollution has devastating effects on aquatic systems. The oversupply of nitrogen (from chemical fertilizers) discharged into our rivers and streams is one of the most prevalent forms of water pollution.
Nitrogen runoff comes from commercial farms and private homes using chemical fertilizers for crops or lawns. The nitrogen is washed into storm drains and nearby waterways, flows into larger streams and rivers, and is eventually concentrated into the Mississippi River where it washed out into the Gulf of Mexico.
In the Gulf, the nitrogen and nutrient rich water create large algae blooms. When the algae dies, they decompose deplete the water of oxygen until there is almost none left. Oxygen depletion prevents organisms from growing in this area of the Gulf of Mexico which is now called the “dead zone”. The dead zone is approximately the size of New Jersey, and it is devoid of fish or or other aquatic animals which cannot survive in the oxygen deprived environment.
For more information about this dead zone and the effects of water pollution on aquatic ecosystems, read this article by Carol Kaeusuk Yoon, published in the New York Times in 1998.