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Developing Countries     Local Issues    Louisiana Wetlands


Pollution Concerns in Developing Countries

garbage strewn riverbank

In South East Asia, the pollution problem has become such large problem that the local people have to live with large garbage dumps right next to there homes.  In this picture, a family is making their way through a waste filled shore line in order to reach their house.


As developing countries attempt to gain a foot hold in the world markets, they must build and maintain a growing number of industries from textile to chemical plants.  On a global scale, this is positive growth.  However there is a large population of people whose jobs are getting pushed out of sight as a result of this development.  Yet these people, substance farmers specifically, form the internal backbone of these countries economies.  These industries put pollutants into the environment that are finding their way into the local water supply, minimizing the productivity of the local substance farmers.

            As industrial complexes are built along river banks, their waste gets pumped into the water, polluting it to levels so high it becomes unusable.  On top of that, there are the drastic pollution events such as the Songhua River spill that occurred in December of 2005, an event that the environment is still reeling in shock from.  In the suburbs of large industrialized cities in areas such as china, the local residence have had to resort to the use of untreated industrial wastewater to irrigate the vegetables and other crops that they grow due to the fact that the water in the reservoirs and rivers are unusable. 

            All this pollution brings down the nutrition levels and productivity of the farms.  In fact, it increases the possibility of health problems.  According to the World Health Organization, arsenicosis, cholera, and Japanese encephalitis are some of the major diseases that are water related.

            If, perchance, someone traveled alone the road from Peshawar to Islamabad in Pakistan and crossed the Indus River in the vicinity of Attuk they would observe the meeting of the Indus and the Kabul.  One is a grayish blue, the other, a pale brown.  The brown, at its source, is considered “a toilet that is flushed once a year.”  Both supply the local farmers with water for their crops, both are polluted to a point where people question simply swimming in them, let alone eating food watered by them or fish raised in them. 

 


Locally Deficient in the Cabeza - Pompeis Region

            Water sources have become heavily polluted near urban areas. Many streams and water sources face large chemical concentrations especially during dry seasons. The demand for water is ever increasing in suburban areas where population growth is fueled by urbanization and industrialization.

            Living in an area like San Gabriel Valley that is becoming more urbanized each day, we should consider this situation very closely for our near future. Run-off from local sources along the San Gabriel Valley river experiences large increases in pollution concentrations during the dry seasons. Although water flows through at a lower rate during these times, the chemical flow rate is unabated, because we continue to dump just as many chemicals into the water. The main sources for these pollutions are the local storm drains and water reclamation plants. The pollution levels from these vary by type and depend on temporal conditions, but overall they are often found at dangerous levels during dry seasons.

            The problem with this pollution is, once it enters our water systems there is very little we can do to remove it. There aren’t very many feasible methods to remove the pollution. One solution would be synthetic or natural wetlands. One that could alleviate the bio-chemical stress on our water systems. The idea would be to place a wetlands directly after or near these pollution sources to dampen their effects before they are assimilated into the main water system. This set-up would allow bio-filtration to take place and drastically reduce the pollution levels, without letting them affect the quality of our river water first.

 

The Louisiana Wetlands at a Global and National Scale

image of wetlands and trees

        The Louisiana Wetland Delta is shrinking in size at a very fast rate. The Mississippi River that feeds it has now been blocked off using levees which reduces the nutrient and sediment flow into the delta during occasional flooding.


 

            Louisiana’s wetland is the earth’s seventh largest delta. As a result, it has significant economic consequences in terms of wildlife habitat and marine life. It accepts drainage from about two thirds of the United States, including high concentrations of agricultural run off and nitrates. This has enhanced algal growth in the delta increasing its Biological Oxygen Demand up to a point of complete loss of other organic life forms - a condition called hypoxia. The wetlands also fall under a migratory path of songbirds and waterfowl. The current loss of land stands at 5000 square miles. With the increasing danger of losing more land, the risk of threatening endangering species is high.

            At an economic scale, the delta serves as a source of eighty percent of the country’s offshore oil and natural gas supply. In addition, the delta provides a passageway for thirty percent of the offshore oil supply. Encompassing all of these factors, the wetlands are a number one buffer to hurricane threats from the Gulf of Mexico and the open seas. Given the current loss of land from the Louisiana wetlands, a hurricane would be catastrophic.

Is there a relationship between Katrina and Louisiana’s Delta?

            New Orleans lies in the midst of an ancient floodplain of the Mississippi River. As most rivers, the Mississippi has overflowed in the past, flooding its surrounding areas. Due to the threat, the government began building levees to dam the flooding. As a result, what should have been a natural occurrence was now controlled. This has cut off the supply of nutrients and sediment to the delta that the periodic flooding once provided, which has resulted in its drying up- loss of land. The bottom of this coastal wetland now lies unstable as it sinks and settles continuously. Without the steady supply of nutrients and sediment, the aquatic plants have become flooded causing vast expanses of open water to form, thus promoting the occurrence of hurricanes.

            As the wetlands deteriorate and shrink at an ever increasing rate, the chances of the occurrence of another hurricane is much higher. Resolving this issue has begun at the federal level with partners looking into restoring the coastal wetlands. Concerned citizens, local governments, state and federal officials have formed the Coast 2050- a plan including watershed management, improving drainage, and restoration of barrier islands among other ideas. The importance of the wetland has now been realized nationally and globally and its effects have surfaced as a result of Katrina.

 

Works Cited

Blanco, Katherine Babineux. “Saving Louisiana’s Delta.” Global Issues, April 2004: April 6th, 2006. http://usinfo.state.gov/journals/itgic/0404/ijge/gj06.htm.

“Hurricane Katrina: Wetland Destruction.” Teacher’s Domain, 2006: April  5th, 2006. http://www.teachersdomain.org/68/sci/ess/earthsys/katrinawet/index.html.