Water pollution is a serious public health problem. When our waterways become polluted, microorganisms and other contaminants can cause serious illnesses. Just by looking at the water, it may be difficult to tell if a waterway is polluted – here are some signs to watch for that will help you identify water pollution.
When aquatic species are dead or dying, it’s an obvious sign of water pollution. Fish kills may occur due to chemical pollution, restricted oxygen due to contamination, and increased bacteria or phosphorous in the water caused by runoff.
Besides the actual presence of dead fish or aquatic life, a lack thereof is another sign of pollution. When frogs, fish, and other life disappear from a waterway, there is likely an environmental reason they have left.
Smelly or Discolored Water
The smell or appearance of water can also indicate water pollution.
- Water contaminated with sulfur or certain bacteria will emit the smell of rotten eggs.
- High iron levels give water an orange color.
- High manganese levels will cause water to look purple or black.
- Water that smells like chemicals, gas, or paint thinner are likely polluted with those contaminant byproducts or others.
- A metallic smell indicates high mineral levels, such as lead, mercury, copper, or arsenic.
Foam may result from the natural decomposition of organic matter, but it can also indicate water contamination. Foam along shorelines or in areas of high water agitation may indicate high levels of phosphorous resulting from detergent pollution or runoff from animal manure.
If you notice any of these problems in a local waterway, make sure to notify authorities at the Indiana Department of Natural Resources or the Indiana Department of Environmental Management so they can investigate for potential pollution.
Indiana American Water works around the clock to provide quality, reliable water and wastewater services to approximately 300,000 homes and businesses across the state. An important part of our work is reinvesting in the infrastructure needed to deliver on our commitment to quality. Last year alone, we invested more than $80 million in our treatment and distribution facilities.