How Industrial Agriculture Affects Our Water
Industrial agriculture is one of the leading causes of water pollution in the United States. Studies have found that 46 percent of the nation’s rivers and streams are in “poor biological condition,” and 21 percent of lakes are “hypereutrophic” (meaning that high levels of nutrients are degrading water quality). High levels of nutrients such as phosphorus and nitrogen, which are key ingredients in many synthetic fertilizers, threaten the health and biological diversity of waterways, which can result in loss of aquatic life and their habitats, shellfish contamination and seasonal dead zones. Polluted water also impacts the quality of life and incomes of nearby residents, posing a threat to public health. Beaches may close due to algal blooms, and fishing activities may be severely limited. Excessive nutrient runoff in waterways can impact drinking water supplies and, in some cases, cause severe health problems, especially in rural regions and other marginalized communities.