and industries use water during the processing, manufacturing, and
transportation of goods. What responsibility do businesses have
to the environment? Explore more about how water is affected by
are local areas that share common services like sewers, fire and
police service, and schools. They arent just made up of households.
Business and economic activities provide the foundation for towns
and cities. The businesses and industries are usually the largest
users of municipal water, and have huge potential to negatively
affect water quality.
or small, many businesses use water for more than just for their
employees drinking water and bathrooms. Whether they use water
as a part of their process, or as part of their product, they change
the quality of the water they use.
your local carwash and the huge amount of water it needs to operate.
Or a big plant like a papermill and the millions of gallons of water
it uses to manufacture their product. Since these industries arent
consuming the water, it is eventually put back out as ,
which must be treated before it returns to the water cycle. The
majority of industries and businesses choose to dispose their wastewater
back to their municipal wastewater facility where pollutants are
treated. Its easier, faster and cheaper than treating it themselves.
industry that doesnt dispose of its wastewater through a licensed
facility must get a special license from the .
If a paper mill for instance, discharges its wastewater directly
into a river, the mill is required to have an
permit issued through the EPA. The permit sets treatment standards
that ensure the quality of the water going into the river, stream
industries that dont use water in their manufacturing can
affect water quality through their waste. Many substances like lead,
mercury, and oil are used in industrial processes, and pose health
risks to humans and wildlife. If these pollutants make it into waterways,
they can destroy entire .
Thats why disposal of any pollutants by industry requires
NPDES permits. In exchange for the permit, industries agree to handle
their waste in ways that prevent it from affecting water. These
permits, a part of the Clean Water Act, were a direct response to
the overwhelming effects of pollution stemming from toxic dumping in the past.
, we would have to rely on industries and businesses to
"police" themselves. There would be no one forcing them
to act as good stewards of wateran approach that proved unsuccessful
in the past. Are there ways other than regulation that could keep
industries and businesses interested in maintaining clean water
do you think?
about the types of business in your watershed. How could they
positively/negatively affect water quality? Are there economic
incentives for polluting waterways?