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For more information, please see full course syllabus of AP Environmental Science
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Water Pollution & Treatment

  • Water pollution sources include: urban runoff, chemical spills, leaks, sediment, air fallout, agricultural seepage, and saltwater intrusion
  • Biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) is the amount of oxygen required for biochemical decomposition. Dead organic matter is typically introduced to streams from agricultural runoff or natural sources, and this has a huge impact on BOD
  • Waterborne illness (e.g. fecal coliform bacteria) sickens 10s of thousands of people each year in the U.S.
  • Eutrophication is typically caused by too much nitrogen or phosphorus ending up in a body of water from agricultural runoff. The huge rise in algae can lead to depleted oxygen content and widespread death in an ecosystem
  • Oil pollution has been a major topic in recent years (2010 Deepwater horizon and 1989 Exxon Valdez spills)
  • Sediment pollution is also a major culprit in the gradual destruction of aquatic ecosystems
  • Acid mine drainage results from too much sulfuric acid ending up in the water from abandoned mines
  • Surface-water pollution can originate from point sources or non-points sources, and some great ways to reduce surface water pollution are to reduce the sources and/or treat the water (with nanotechnology, for example)
  • Groundwater pollution exists as well, which is disconcerting considering the amount of people that depend on it for drinking water and the proximity of groundwater sources to waste-disposal sites
  • Wastewater treatment, or sewage treatment, can be achieved in many ways, such as: septic-tanks, and treatment and reuse (inadvertent, indirect, or direct)
  • The Hudson River story sheds light on water pollution and how to combat the problem

Water Pollution & Treatment

Lecture Slides are screen-captured images of important points in the lecture. Students can download and print out these lecture slide images to do practice problems as well as take notes while watching the lecture.

  • Intro 0:00
  • Water Pollution Overview 0:05
    • Degradation of Water Quality
    • Sources of Pollution
    • Maximum Contaminant Levels
  • Biochemical Oxygen Demand 4:08
    • Biochemical Oxygen Demand
    • Dead Organic Matter Enters Streams From Natural Sources and Agriculture Runoff
    • Dissolved Oxygen Content of <5 mg/L is Threshold
    • Three Zones
  • Waterborne Illnesses 9:34
    • Not Immune to Outbreaks of Waterborne Disease
    • Fecal Coliform Bacteria
    • Water Unfit to Swim In
  • Nutrients in Water 11:49
    • Pollution from Human Sources
    • Eutrophication
    • Eutrophic vs. Oligotrophic Lake
    • Cultural Eutrophication
  • Oil and Sediment 17:10
    • Oil Has Caused Major Pollution Problems
    • Sediment Pollution is Also a Major Issue
  • Acid Mine Drainage 18:57
    • General Equation
    • Can Occur Near Abandoned Mines
    • Potential Solutions
  • Surface-Water Pollution 22:41
    • Point Sources
    • Urban-Runoff Naturalization
  • Groundwater Pollution 26:18
    • Groundwater to Drink
    • Example: Gasoline Pollution
    • Points to Consider
    • Different from Surface-Water Pollution
  • Wastewater Treatment 29:37
    • Sewage Treatment
    • Septic Tank Disposal Systems
    • Water Treatment Plant Receives Sewage from Pipes and After Treatment Discharges Water Into Ocean
    • Primary Water Treatment
    • Secondary Water Treatment
    • Advanced Treatment
  • Land Application of Wastewater 36:28
    • Recycling Wastewater is Becoming More Common
    • Man-Made Wetlands
    • Example: Arcata, ca
  • Water Reuse 39:15
    • Inadvertent Water Reuse
    • Indirect Water Reuse
    • Direct Water Reuse
  • Water Pollution and Environmental Law 41:26
    • Refuse Act
    • Water Quality Improvement Act
    • Federal Safe Drinking Water Act
    • Clean Water Act
    • Water Quality Act
  • The Hudson River Story 43:46
    • Flows in 2 Directions
    • History