Clean, pure water may be our most precious resource. Pollution is anything that spoils its cleanliness, purity, and overall quality. Many things that reduce the quality of the water pollute our ponds, lakes, streams, rivers, ground water, and oceans.
Some, like gradual erosion of nearby land, occur naturally. However, uncontrolled development or careless farming methods increase erosion and ruin waterways. The process of erosion degrades the bank, dumping dirt into the water, which can negatively impact streams, lakes, bay and ocean resources. Preventing erosion and maintaining high quality riparian areas is an important element in reducing pollution and improving water quality.
Pollution problems may differ depending on where you live. In the northeastern U.S., acid rain may be the biggest threat to fish and other wildlife. Along Lake Superior, asbestos particles from mining waste have been a problem. Timber harvest in mountainous areas can cause erosion and sediment to flow into lakes and streams. Mercury is a concern in many lakes in Wisconsin and Minnesota. Around much of the Great Lakes, PCBs and other chemicals are a concern.
In most large urban communities, the main cause of water pollution is a combination of sewage and industrial waste. Unfortunately, some water can't be used because it is too polluted by chemical industrial waste. For instance, eight billion gallons of fresh water flow past the city of New York every day as the Hudson River empties into the Atlantic Ocean. That's enough water to supply each of 40 million people with 200 gallons a day if it could be used. The Hudson River, however, is too polluted to be used as a water supply.
To be a good angler or boater you need to be familiar with the major kinds of pollution. As a voter, you will be asked to make decisions about proposed laws. You will want to be knowledgeable so you can make decisions that are healthy for the environment.
Those who are concerned about water pollution use two terms: point-source and non-point-source.