What is the Most Common Waste in Water?

Felicia Dye

Water pollution can be found in many forms, such as human and animal waste, which can both cause widespread illness. Due to industrial pursuits, hazardous materials are present in some surface and ground water supplies. Waste in water commonly results from human recreation such as boating. The lack of proper sanitation services largely contributes to the prominence of household garbage in water in some places.

Motor oil is a form of waste that is common in some waters.
Motor oil is a form of waste that is common in some waters.

The type of waste in water tends to be greatly affected by location. People in rural areas where most households have private wells are likely to find different pollutants than people in cities where water is supplied by the municipality. Likewise, citizens in one country may have issues that are not experienced by people in another nation.

A glass of tap water.
A glass of tap water.

Animal waste in water is a problem that can be found around the globe. In many developed countries, there are strict regulations regarding the maintenance of livestock to help reduce these risks, but even these may not completely eliminate the problem. Animal waste is a major concern because the microorganisms that these pollutants introduce into water systems can cause widespread illnesses, which are often fatal.

Water that is polluted by oil.
Water that is polluted by oil.

Hazardous waste in water at the surface and under ground is often a problem for people who live in industrial areas or near factories. Such businesses are often located near large bodies of water. It is not uncommon for it to be discovered that a factory or plant has attempted to lower its operational costs or circumvent regulations by illegally dumping waste into a body of water. The resulting illness of individuals living nearby is often a tip-off of the problem.

Surface water is also heavily polluted by individuals. In underdeveloped countries, this is especially problematic. People commonly live without the convenient facilities that individuals have in developed nations. As a result, they use rivers, lakes, and streams as toilets, for bathing, and for laundry. Even worse, as there generally is little or no garbage removal service, the waste in water in these countries largely consists of household garbage.

In developed countries, although the amount of waste in water and the types of pollutants may vary, it is still common to find that humans are creating problems. One major contributing factor is water recreation. Motor oil and fuel from boats are very prominent in some waters. Although in these nations people generally have adequate access to sanitation services, it is still commonly found that individuals throw unwanted objects overboard.

Water pollution can be found in many forms, including trash that's thrown away.
Water pollution can be found in many forms, including trash that's thrown away.

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Discussion Comments


@RoyalSpyder - Honestly, that's one thing I really don't like about geese. As harmless as they are, the problem is that they're always pooping. Yes, I know that every animal does this, but with geese, it seems like it's more frequent. Maybe this is due to the fact that they always travel in groups. Either way, something really needs to do done to resolve this issue. As the article indirectly states, not only can the surrounding water become contaminated, but even more so, they can spread their filthy germs and diseases into the water systems.


What caught my attention the most in this article is when animal waste in water is mentioned. In the old city that I lived in, this was more than just a huge problem. Right by my school, there was a pond, where all of the geese would hang by. Every few weeks, the water would become disgustingly contaminated. It was brown, green, and there was sludge everywhere. However, after doing some research, I found out what the issue was - animal waste. When the geese were/are in the water, they poop a lot, causing it to become contaminated overtime.


As the article states, water comes in many forms of pollution. In my opinion, this is what makes it "unique", per se. In other words, there's not an exact or definitive term for water pollution.

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