Water and Its Impacts

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Hydropower is a completely renewable source of energy and the water used to generate it can be replenished by the different cycles that comprise the water cycle (McKinney, Schoch, & Yonavjak, 2007). It is not, though, fully emission-free. On the one side, hydropower has many advantages: it is a comparatively cheap way of generating energy, it is plentiful, it can be deposited in rivers, it is clean and secure, and it can be used for recreational purposes. On the other hand, it has certain drawbacks, such as the potential for major environmental effects and the fact that it can only be generated in areas with a consistent and reliable water source. In understanding that there are no free sources of energy and that there is an opportunity cost involved, a broader look at the negative environmental impacts of hydropower indirectly results in emission of greenhouse gas.

McKinney, Schoch, and Yonavjak (2007) noted that even though actual production of power emanating from hydropower is not associated with the release of greenhouse gases, the expectation is rather contrary in the situations involving large dams that have the propensity to flood larger areas of the construction sites. Firstly, since various plant species have large amounts of carbon tied in them, flooding of the reservoir deprive the plants of the oxygen and they finally die and rot to release carbon dioxide. While rotting, the plant matter settles on the bottom of the water reservoirs. Consequently, there is continued decomposition of in absence of oxygen leading to the upsurge of dissolved methane that eventually gets released back into the atmosphere when water is either pumped or flow naturally to pass through the plant’s turbines. Secondly, seasonal alterations in water depths in the water reservoir imply continuous provision of decaying plant and small animal matter. For example, during the dry seasons’ plants tend to colonize the reservoir banks. Consequently, when it rains and water levels rise, the plants get engulfed in water and since they lack access to oxygen, they die and decay and the process repeated as aforementioned. As such, emissions of the greenhouse gases depend on the size of the hydropower project.

Response to question 2

The two issues associated with water pollution that is worsened or become more difficult to deal with as a result of population growth are water quality and quantity. According to Feldman (2012), an increase in population directly influences the quality of the water resources in the society. The human populace has the propensity to change the properties of water at all levels of use. Unfortunately, alteration of water characteristics leads to degradation of its quality as observed at different successive levels where water finds an application. For example, water that is used in houses and homes for purposes including drinking, cooking, as well as bathing eventually get contaminated by chemical substances present in detergents and soaps. As such, with population increase, more chemical substances are likely to be introduced into the water supply chain.

Similarly, population growth necessitates the increase in agricultural activities to produce enough food to sustain the growing mass. Consequently, more fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides would be used. When it rains and floods, surface run-off carry the agricultural chemical substances to the water reservoirs such as lakes, dams, and rivers causing intense pollution that impacts the water quality (Feldman, 2012). Comparative, industries would tend to produce more goods and products by using more raw material that finally output by-products. Improper treatment and discharge of the generated by-products would then result in an increased rate of water pollution.

On the other hand, Feldman, (2012) noted that water quantity is a water pollution matter that is inseparable with water quality. Increase in population impacts to the water supply by causing an increase in the quantity of quality water demanded. It, therefore, becomes a difficult issue to respond to when the quality of water is affected by various pollutants yet the growing population requires more water that is safe for their health. Moreover, controlling water pollution to deliver the quality that meets the quantity demanded by the public become more expensive with growth in population.

Response to question 3

Irrigation is of concern to the ecologists because it results in the alteration of the quality and quantity of water. Bases on the hydrological changes that emanate from construction of larger irrigation schemes, (Dixon et al., 2013) report that certain phenomena occur in many instances where the sources of water for irrigation are rivers. These comprise; reduced river discharge downstream, increased rate of evaporation in the irrigated area, increase in groundwater recharge, the rise in water table, and an increase in drainage flow. All the aforementioned are central to ecologists’ interests.

Irrigation while facilitating the application of water on the agricultural land has certain pros and cons worth highlighting. The advantages of irrigation according to Dixon et al. (2013) include; providing an opportunity for efficient application of water. Irrigation through various methods is controlled to promote uniform application of water to the plants and crops. As a result, water is directed towards the target use, thus, effective control of the water supply and nutrients applied on the agricultural land. With irrigation, there is improved plant growth, fertilizer, pesticides, and herbicides are better managed, there is an increase in crop yield that is a better quality and reduction in the run-off downstream. On the other hand, Dixon et al. (2013) inform on the disadvantages of irrigation to include increased salinity, the rise in water table, reduces river discharge, and water logging which creates the breeding ground for mosquitoes, thus, encourages spread of malaria.

I suggest that future water management approaches take into consideration steps to; first, eliminate single-pass cooling in industries and factories and encouraging the use of fans and re-circulate chilled water. Second, adopt a culture of optimizing cooling towers. The third and most realistic real-world water management approach is to ensure that all detected leakages along water pipelines and households are resealed.

Response to Question 4

I concur with the statement that water stress is most vivid in megacities. First, water scarcity is a problem in many megacities due to increased per capita consumption of water. Jenerette and Larsen (2006) noted that massive change in population size makes controlling various aspects of water pollution more expensive. The result is increased degradation of water quality which determines the quantity to be supplied. When the quality of water is affected, there is less water to be supplied to meet the high demand hence scarcity. Second, megacities are a characteristic of rapid population growth which interferes with the existing plans by requiring major water planning as well as management changes and infrastructures. For example, megacities including Nigeria, Indonesia, Dhaka, and Bangladesh have been projected to witness a population growth from 60 to 75 percents (Feldman, 2012). The rapid increase in the size of population for the aforementioned cities is not evenly spread, thus, their water management agencies have no adequate time to progressively put in place effective essential infrastructure as well as management capacities to cure the different water-dependent services.

References

Dixon, J., Scura, L., Carpenter, R., & Sherman, P. (2013). Economic analysis of environmental impacts. Routledge.

Feldman, D. L. (2012). Water. Cambridge, UK: Polity.

Jenerette, G. D., & Larsen, L. (2006). A global perspective on changing sustainable urban water supplies. Global and planetary Change, 50(3), 202-211.

McKinney, M. L., Schoch, R. M., & Yonavjak, L. (2007). Environmental science: Systems and solutions. Sudbury, Mass: Jones and Bartlett.

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