How to Identify Signs of Water Pollution in Local Waterways

How to Identify Signs of Water Pollution in Local Waterways

Identifying signs of water pollution in local waterways is an important step in ensuring the health and well-being of the environment and the communities that depend on these water sources for drinking water. But how do you know if a local waterway such as a river, stream, pond or lake is polluted? In our most recent blog, Indiana American Water discusses common signs of water pollution and the steps you should take if you observe pollution.

Common Signs of Water Pollution

Discolored Water

One of the simplest ways to check for water pollution is to observe the color of the water. Unusual colors such as brown, green, or murky water are common indicators of pollution.

Unpleasant Odors

Any strong, unusual, or unpleasant odors emanating from the water supply often signal contaminated water. Some common smells that could indicate pollution include sewage, chemicals, sulfur, metallic, or chlorine-like odor.

Excessive Floating Debris

Unusual amounts of debris, such as trash, oil slicks, foam, or scum floating on the water’s surface can indicate pollution sources nearby.

Presence of Algae Blooms

Algae blooms occur when there is an excess of nutrients, such as nitrogen and phosphorus, in the water. These blooms can lead to oxygen depletion and harm aquatic life. Look for dense, colorful, or scummy accumulations of algae on the water’s surface. Common causes of algae blooms include agricultural and urban runoff, wastewater treatment plant discharges, industrial discharges, or faulty septic systems.

Dead Fish or Wildlife

It’s not uncommon to see an occasional dead fish in a local waterway; however, if there is a sudden increase in dead fish or other aquatic life in the water or along the shorelines, it could be an indication of pollution that is affecting the food chain of the local ecosystem.

Lack of Aquatic Life

A significant reduction of fish or other aquatic wildlife can also signal water pollution. Pollution can negatively impact the health and biodiversity of aquatic ecosystems.

Suspicious Discharge Pipes or Dumping

Observe if there are any pipes or outlets that discharge suspicious-looking substances directly into the water. Unauthorized dumping or industrial discharges including toxic chemicals can be a significant source of polluted water and should be reported immediately.

If you notice any of these signs or suspect water pollution in your local waterways, it’s important to report your observations to the relevant environmental authorities or local water management agencies. They can investigate and take appropriate actions to address pollution and protect local waterways.

Indiana American Water Is Committed to High-Quality Water

Every year, American Water diligently carries out close to a million tests and measurements, utilizing cutting-edge technology and equipment to monitor water quality. Our team of scientists meticulously tests water samples from various regions across the nation to protect against viruses, microbes, hazardous chemicals, algae, metals, minerals, and other potential contaminants. Click on our water treatment page to learn more about our water treatment process.