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Are all the water supplies in the world polluted?

Not all water on earth is polluted, or more correctly, not all water IN earth is polluted. Many people rely on wells drilled into the ground for their water, and this water has generally remained untainted by human activity (except possibly in the pipes during transportation). In some agricultural areas, there is concern that pesticides may leach through sandy soils and contaminate some of this underground water. In other places, there is concern that too much water has been drawn out for irrigation, and that the wells will go dry. The good news is that water can be unpolluted by filtering, boiling, or by chemical treatment, so drinking water supplies are safe most of the time. Recently, the city of Milwaukee (in my home state of Wisconsin) experienced a breakdown in their water purification system and many people got sick from a bacteria that was not filtered out. People in poor countries also get sick from drinking contaminated water quite often, because they have not been able to afford to build water treatment systems. So, while much of the surface water on earth may be polluted (either by natural bacteria or by agricultural or industrial waste), there is some hope that almost everyone can get water clean enough to drink.

Don Libby

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