River pollution and clean up program

Hello World,


Today I will discuss river pollution and river clean up program.

Most fresh water pollution is caused by the addition of organic material which is mainly sewage but can be food waste or farm effluent.

What is river pollution?

“River pollution” is the contamination of a river when pollutants are discharged into it without adequate treatment. River pollution affects the health of the river and living organisms living in it. It threatens aquatic lives including fish.

River pollution is a major global issue. In addition to the acute problems of water pollution in developing world, industrialized countries continue to struggle with pollution problems as well. In the most recent national report on water quality, in the United States, 45% of assessed stream miles, 47 % of assessed lake acres, and 32% of assessed bay and estuarine square miles were classified as polluted.

River pollution can have two sources: point and non-point sources.

Point sources
Point source water pollution refers to contaminants that enter a waterway from a single, identifiable source, such as a pipe or ditch. Examples include discharges from a sewage treatment plant, a factory, or a city storm drain.
Non–point sources

Non-point sources pollution refers to diffuse contamination that does not originate from a single discrete source. It is often the cumulative effect of small amounts of contaminants gathered from a large area. Examples include: the leaching out of nitrogen compounds from fertilized agricultural lands; nutrient runoff in stormwater from “sheet flow” over an agricultural field or a forest. Contaminated storm water washed off of parking lots, roads and highways also causes water pollution, which are often dumped in the rivers without any treatment.

Picture: River pollution example1

Is health of our rivers in risk?

Yes, some of our rivers are in trouble because of pollution. It makes me sad to see polluted rivers especially in the developing world where there is big lack of environmental awareness. Some of the rivers smell like sewage. It’s terrible to see garbage floating on the rivers along with bottles etc.

News like this is so common these days. It tells the story of health of our rivers. This news was published in “The Independent, 5 July 1993″, UK:

THOUSANDS of fish have been killed by a sudden pollution of the river Trent, campaigners said last night.

The National Rivers Authority is investigating the contamination, which may have been caused by illegal fly- tipping into a sewage system near Nottingham. Of about 500 anglers who took part in a National Fishing Union match on Saturday, those below the Stoke Bardolph sewage works outfall, near Nottingham, caught nothing, while those above it achieved catches of 10lb or more.’ Something was drastically wrong with that river,’ one competitor, Tony Warburton, a member of the Clean Rivers Trust, said.

Yesterday, dead fish were picked out of the river at Newark, 18 miles downstream.An NRA spokesman said: ‘We are still counting dead fish and trying to find the cause. It looks as if it was a fairly significant contamination.’

A spokesman for the Severn- Trent water company said: ‘We believe there may have been an illegal discharge of a substance which adversely affected the biological process of our Stoke Bardolph sewage treatment works. The substance may well have passed through and had an impact on the river Trent.’ Harvey Wood, a Clean Rivers Trust co-ordinator, said: ‘It could take years for fish stocks to recover.’ “

See video below

Video Gallery:

River clean up program

There are various municipalities and cities which have river clean up program. They ask citizens to volunteer and clean up their local rivers. I like this program since it brings back the health of river.



River clean up simple techniques

The easiest thing to do is to clean up river banks i.e. collect any garbage left or thrown over. Safety should be kept in mind while doing this. Make sure you are not falling in the rivers or stepping onto anything harmful such as sharp objects if any.

If you are in North America such as Canada, make sure you are authorized to get in the river to clean up things. You might need special permit and training to do so. Check with your local authority before you step into the river. Safety is the main concern.

For a small river choose a place on a river bank which is safe to work from and where there is reasonable access to the water. If the river is too wide and too big, then use either a boat or ship. Push your net through the weeds at the edge of the river and collect any animals hiding there. If the water is shallow you could stand in the river and place your net on the bottom with the opening pointing upstream allowing the current to wash the animals into the net. Tip the catch into a white dish and identify the animals.


Picture: Example of river clean up

If you find only blood worms, tubifex worms or rat-tailed maggots it would suggest that there is little oxygen in the water and that pollution is occurring. If this is the case write to your regional Water Authority informing them of your investigation giving details of where you sampled and what you think might be the possible source of pollution.

Video Gallery:


  1. Save our rivers.
  2. River is our main source of fresh water.
  3. Stop polluting rivers.
  4. Pollution of rivers affects our health and health of aquatic lives including fish we love.
  5. Do not treat rivers as a dumping ground.
  6. We love rivers because it provides us water, a walking place or a place to relax.
  7. We use rivers for recreational use including boating and having fun time.
  8. Rivers support thousands of aquatic lives.
  9. Rivers support our agriculture and navigational requirements.
  10. Treat rivers with respect and help clean the mess already made.

Thank you.

Author: Swarnakar

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