Pollution Happens

What’s in the Water, Anyway?
Better water for us is better for the environment and the living things there.

Hillsborough County has the bay, two large rivers, thousands of lakes, tens of thousands of ponds and waterways to protect. That’s before you consider delivering water to half a million people. Water takes a long, not always smooth course through our natural systems and our lives. It fuels our bodies and the quality of our lives. Water doesn’t change. What does change is the nature of the “stuff” that slips into water natural sources, human activity and from our homes and businesses. Who’s watching our water? Hillsborough County. And, a whole lot of others.

There’s the stuff that makes its way into our natural water bodies, and there’s the stuff that we put in the water just living our lives. Some of us create more pollution, some less and some pollution happens from nature, too. It’s about what gets into the water, but it’s also important to know that whatever it is, it’s just using the water for transportation. Still, we have to know what’s in the water so that we use the right treatment process to get it out.

Two Types of Pollutants

So where does all this stuff come from? In one word: Us.

Water is watched—closely

Business & Industry
Who What Consequence
Businesses on large properties Clearing land Soil erosion into nearby waters
Industries of all kinds Waste and sewage runoff Introduce organic pollutants into ecosystem
Industrial and power plants Disposing of waste heat in nearby waters Thermal pollution, increasing water temperature and killing organisms
Industry, mine and hazardous waste sites Runoff of toxic or radioactive materials Water contaminated with toxic elements
Fossil fuel plants Burning of fossil fuels emits sulfur dioxide into air, creating sulfuric acid, which falls into waters Lower PH level, which kills aquatic organisms and plants, disrupting entire ecosystem.


Who What Consequence
Farms Chemical fertilizer runoff Excessive nitrate and phosphate content contaminate water and hurt organisms.
Farms Herbicide and pesticide runoff Build-up of toxic substances in waters
Livestock Livestock organic waste runoff Increases nitrogen content, damages water quality
Farms Organic soil runoff Clouds water, blocks sunlight and kills aquatic life


Who What Consequence
Homes Sewage, septic tank runoff Introduce harmful organic pollutants to waters
Homes Fertilizer, herbicide and pesticide runoff Introduce toxic, chemical substances into waters
Homes Improper disposal of chemicals and materials like cleaning supplies and pharmaceuticals Contaminate water with toxic substances that can kill aquatic plants and organisms
Homes Car oil and antifreeze runoff Pollute nearby water with toxic chemicals