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Why it is important to protect the water environment

All living things need water to live. Rivers and lakes are fragile ecosystems that depend on water to be non-toxic, clear and containing adequate dissolved oxygen. Importantly for humans, we all depend on clean water for drinking water supplies. Clean water is also important for the watering of livestock the irrigation of crops and gardens, economic, industrial and recreational uses such as fishing and bathing. Pollution of surface and groundwaters can impact all these uses.

Pollutants are defined as anything that harms the environment. Water pollutants include not only chemicals, oils and pathogens but also organic materials, heat and suspended solids. Most of the major categories of pollutants are shown in the table below.

Pollutants released during fires, road traffic collisions and other emergency incidents can pollute air, land and water. fire and rescue services can take action to protect all of these in appropriate circumstances, but it’s usually the water environment that the FRS can protect most readily.