Surface runoff is the water that makes its way to water collection sites, streams, rivers, lakes and ultimately to the oceans when the ground itself is beyond the capacity to hold it. If this water works its way through places where many people live, it can pick up various chemical, materials and pollutants, which is what is often referred to as well as urban runoff. Surveys suggest that the public believes industry is mostly responsible for the damaging effects of this process, when in fact it is individual activities that make up the greatest concern (CA EPA 2001).
CONTROL OF PET WASTE: People tend to be misinformed about where the water goes that enters street drains. It does not go to treatment facilities, but usually gets diverted to local water holdings or into ground waters (CA EPA 2001). In waste plants, the waters are cleaned and given time for nature to help filer or to remove chemicals. The sites themselves are protected from runoff so that the chemicals and pollutions that are captured do not work their way into usable holdings or drinking water. Waters not treated in drains can pick up bacteria, viruses and even parasites from common elements like pet and animal droppings. This can introduce agents that kill or destroy native plants and animals, or that can actually over encourage the growth of plants and make the waters uninhabitable. Humans can also catch diseases from these occurrences when they swim in or drink untreated water.
OIL AND PRODUCTION POLLUTION: We have seen repeatedly in recent years that oil does not mix well with ocean or other natural waterways. Though media coverage sensationalizes these events, the fact is that oil spills and such make up only about 12% of the reasons why processed petroleum like this get into waters. The remainder comes from urban runoff, ship cleaning and maintenance, and outright dumping (The Guides Network, 2012). Many people still believe that because oil itself comes from the ground, pouring it into drains presents no problem. But the chemical nature of these products is different than ground leakage. Processed petroleum products can stay together as pools of sludge which can kills fish or mammals. They can also destroy or enhance photosynthesis, which brings about imbalances of greenery or biological agents, thus making the waters unlivable for the cycles of creatures that keep the earth's water naturally healthy.
CONTROLLING: In a world filled with significant numbers of people and incredible urban development, controlling for pollutions is very challenging. Still, there are important ways that people can help. The California EPA has provided a list of options (CA EPA 3). Whenever possible, pet waste can be put into toilets or into landfills. Other animal waste should be cleansed to the greatest possibility before it is put into the ground where direct runoff can happen. Extreme care and vigilance must be continued to monitor companies that dump pollutions or clean shipping equipment. Similarly, incentives should be created to allow for home water collection and filtration. Both of these activities might inspire innovative designs that could reduce the need for water or waste treatment facilities, just as electric vehicles could help reduce oil and chemical street contaminations.
FOOD CHAINS: Food chains are not just important they are pervasive and potentially irreplaceable. Most people are unaware that one of the basic building blocks of the earth's greenery is phytoplankton. And they are in danger because of what global warming pollutants are doing to the marine waterways. Here is what one recent site said of this first level of the planet's cycle of consumption: "Phytoplankton provide food -- by capturing energy from the sun -- and recycle nutrients, and because they account for approximately half of all organic matter on earth they are hugely important as a means of absorbing carbon" (LKBlog, 2010). Estimates say that this rung of energy production is being reduced at a rate of about 1% annually, which will likely have tremendous ramifications for other life forms and for the speed with which the planet is able to recover from warming caused by carbon agents. Larger fish and mammals, of course, often consume this and other greenery in the waters as their own food, which in turn makes them prey for larger predators.
ROCKS, SANDS, MUDS: Marine ecosystems are needed for nearly all of the living creatures that rely on water to survive (U.S. EPA 2010). Most rely on a photic zone component to allow green planets to produce oxygen and start the food cycle (ecosystems) Much of the life of these waterways actually survives on or near the shores or in shallow waters close to land. There are many reasons for this, some of which have to do with the way the bottoms impact water quality and nutrition. Softer surfaces move around and shift and mix the elements. Rougher or rockier ones can grind and destroy particles and serve as hiding or weight to keep substances in place as they deteriorate or so fish or mammals can eat them. Salinity levels, for example, must be different for some fin fish verses what mussels, clams and barnacles can handle. Wave action in sandy or muddy bottoms mixes and dilutes this component, which is different than what occurs with rocky or stone surfaces (U.S. EPA). Coastal and intertidal regions, including lagoons, vary greatly because of these differences, which is why they can so significantly impacted when chemical or other disasters occur and the damage finds its way in to their otherwise protected environments (U.S. EPA).
MARINE COMMUNITY CHANGES: The levels of food, energy production, and water and land interaction are all part of the cycle of life that the planets offer. The seemingly small reduction in phytoplankton has generated a good deal of concern among scientists, just as did the worries about what could happen in the oil spills in the Gulf of Mexico worked their way into the coast shores and protected waterways. To some degree, of course, change is inevitable; it is actually part of the wonder of what nature allows for. But most significant natural change happens gradually over extensive periods of time. Chemical pollutions, unusual or altered runoffs with human and material wastes, etc. can bring change about faster than nature can respond. Nature's ability to adapt is directly related to how the many elements of the cycles of life, land, water and the other elements interact. Introducing uncontrollable conditions of change can make it impossible for the creatures or for humans to know what to do when these kinds of changes bring about threats.
DUNES, BEACHES, SHORES: Water is a strong and determined resource. It moves regularly, goes into every available place it can, and, when it is forced into new areas, can bring about dramatic changes across an entire environment. Dunes, beaches and shorelines are somewhat accustom to this in their own rights, which is why the waterways of the planet move about and change shape (U.S. EPA). The force of wave actions as well as the impact of runoff from rain or human draining can be somewhat anticipated (Bulkheads). Localities regularly try to adjust to this by bringing in sand or rocks to protect the habitat or at least to delay the erosion (Puget Sound). These methods are usually temporary and require annual enhancements, and they can only occur in selected areas because of the cost. Plus, when sand is brought in to protect a beach, for example, it is eventually washed away as well and ends up altering water breaks or wave actions, thus shifting nature's attention to another location. Siltation changes and adjustments in the organic content of the waterfront can easily come about (Puget Sound).
PLANNED RUNOFFS: City planning efforts have learned to compensate for some of this. Waste water is directed to treatment plants and rain runoff is funneled to areas where it will not so as much damage to public access or protected areas. Unfortunately, as well intentioned as these activities are, they can result in their own problems. Treated and untreated waters each contains pollutants that are funneled along with the water to the desired location where they can either inspire or hold back the growth of plants and sea life. Because the runoff of urban waters into these drainage systems are not well monitored, it can be through these means that plastic bags and other damaging litter materials can enter the water where they are hurting and killing higher forms of marine life (CA EPA).
BULKHEADS AND SEAWALLS: Another common response is the installation of bulkheads and seawalls (Bulkheads and Seawalls). These are intentional walls or other structures that serve to minimize the impact of wave and water action. There are different types of design structures but they usually involve pilings that are driven into the ground to support structural elements to force the wave action up or down to dissipate its energy. These structures have to be high enough to ensure that…