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Issues in Non-Point Source Pollution Critical Essay

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Updated: Jul 17th, 2020

Summary

In recent years, environmental protection has been one of overriding issues for environmentalists, academics and policy makers. One of the most dominant issue in the domain of environmental protection concerns non-point source pollution of water resources (Donlon & McMillan, 2004).

In their article titled “Use of Special Surrogates to Assess the Potential for Non-Point Source Pollution in Large Watersheds”, Moltz et al (2011) aimed to identify key areas within the United States portion of the Rio Grande Basin that were likely to produce non-point source pollution loads resulting from soil erosion and surface water runoff. Geographical Information Systems (GIS) was utilized to collect primary data for the study.

Main Points

The study found that high topographic factors leading to non-point source pollution occur on steep slopes and where water flow has accumulated over longer expanses in the Rio Grande Basin.

Additionally, not only was rainfall erosivity values highest in the downstream sections of the Rio Grande Basin, but soil erodibility was found to be highest in the upper sections of the basin, lessening towards the lower sections of the basin. Lastly, the study found that water runoff considerably reduces in extensive areas of grasslands and shrubs, and increases in urban areas and barren lands (Moltz et al, 2011).

Authors’ Position

The authors’ take the position that many non-point source pollution prevention programs fail to remain sustainable because stakeholders never take time to determine the location of priority areas in a manner that could allow successful implementation of the programs in a cost-effective manner.

Through their study, the authors also demonstrate that, for large water resources, validated analyses can be undertaken using coarser datasets that present an initial identification of key sections displaying conditions favorable to generating huge amounts of non-point pollutant loads (Moltz et al., 2011).

Critique

The authors’ have taken great effort to back up their claims with many sources that are grounded on primary research. They ostensibly demonstrate the relationship between soil erosion and water quality impacts in downstream water bodies, as well as the relationship between ground cover and slope gradient on the one hand, and rainfall erosivity and soil erodibility on the other.

Additionally, the authors demonstrate the consequences of non-point source pollution due to sedimentary/soil erosion to include a reduction in water transparency, degradation of aquatic habitats, and a reduction of the operational life and water storage capability of reservoirs generating hydroelectric power.

More importantly, the authors advise stakeholders that any intervention or prevention program aimed at reducing non-point source pollution must take into consideration the location of priority areas (Moltz et al., 2011).

However, the authors could have taken more time and detail to explain their methodology as it is unclear to the reader how GIS was employed to come up with the samples. Additionally, the authors assume that readers automatically know what non-point source pollution entails and therefore see no need to define the concept.

This is rather unfortunate as many readers would want to understand the dynamics behind a concept before engaging in further reading. The authors are also silent on illuminating what ‘watersheds’ entail.

From additional reading, it has been established that nonpoint source pollution is the contamination of ground water, waterways and oceans arising from day-to-day activities, and watersheds include lake and ponds, rivers and streams, wetlands, estuaries and groundwater (Donlon & McMillan, 2004).

Conclusion

To conclude, it can be argued that the article is well-researched and written, but the methodology section, in my view, could have been more detailed and easily understandable to the general readers to enable for a more elaborate analysis of the article.

References

Donlon, A & McMillan, B. (2004). Best management practices to control non-point source pollution: A guide to citizens and town officials. New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services. Retrieved from

Moltz, H.L.N., Rast, W., Lopes, V.L., & Ventura, S.J. (2011). Use of special surrogates to assess the potential for non-point source pollution in large watersheds. Lakes & Reservoirs: Research and Management, 16(1), 3-13.

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IvyPanda. (2020) 'Issues in Non-Point Source Pollution'. 17 July.

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