For many residents of Georgia, the beautiful coastlines and beaches are a source of pride. You may be among those for whom spending a day at the beach brings renewed peace of mind and clarity of thought. However, you may also understand that the beaches and coastal environments are fragile, and the delicate balance of nature is always at risk.
Dunes provide protection for areas inland as well as being the habitat for numerous endangered flora and fauna. As these erode through abuse and neglect, the health and stability of the beaches and other areas also degrade. However, pollution may be the most urgent threat to the beaches and surrounding habitats.
Pollutants make their way to the water
You may think of pollution as trash careless people leave on the beach after a day of fun. While this is one example, pollution can come from many sources, including the following and others:
- Fertilizer from nearby farms
- Waste and other agricultural pollutants from animal feeding operations
- Industrial waste, including mining operations for coal, iron, gravel and other substances, or from abandoned mines
- Chemical pesticides used in residential and commercial areas
- Discharge of ballast water, gas, oil and other toxic substances from commercial vessels and private boats
- Stormwater washing inappropriately discarded oil, gas, construction sediment and other pollutants into tributaries
While many of these issues come down to individuals acting responsibly, in some cases, beaches suffer when industrial facilities, businesses and developers neglect to take the necessary precautions to protect the environment while they build or produce goods.
Sewer overflow destroys beaches
Residential, industrial and commercial wastewater can quickly infiltrate water systems and end up in the oceans and bays. This often happens as a result of sewer overflows following breaks in the lines, blocked pipes or power failures. However, defective sewer systems or inadequately designed sewers also contribute to thousands of sewer overflows each year. Overflows release wastewater that has not passed through the water treatment process and still contains dangerous toxins and debris.
That means raw sewage ends up in the water where you swim, where your children play, and where countless species of animals and plants live. Sewer overflows are one of the most common causes of beaches falling into poor health or even facing complete destruction. Most sewer discharges are illegal and often point to negligence on the part of some municipality or development project.