page last updated
River Tour | Estuary | Salt Marsh
What is an Estuary? > Climate > Geology > Surface Water > Ground Water > Aquatic Habitat > Upland Habitat > Ecological Processes > Animals and Plants > Socioeconomic Values > Human Impacts and Pollution > Where does Your water come from? > Management Issues > Protecting YOUR Watershed
K-12 Students Site
Management Issues > Human Impacts > Pollution > Disease

We often take for granted the benefits of modern life. We have energy to fuel our homes and cars, and electricity to run appliances and television. Although we use these things everyday, we neglect to think about a real problem caused by them everyday: pollution. Pollution is the introduction of materials, such as chemicals and waste, into the environment that cause damage to the environment.

An estuary is impacted more heavily by pollution than most other parts of a watershed. Pollution from throughout the entire watershed may pass through an estuary. Water flows downstream, and the estuary of a river is the section farthest downstream. For example, chemicals released into the Ocmulgee River in Atlanta may flow all the way to the Altamaha River estuary (and finally end up in the Atlantic ocean; see map of Altamaha River watershed). Also, pollution may remain in an estuary for a long time because of the tides that affect it. Tidal currents may hold water and pollution in the same area, moving it back and forth, upstream and downstream.

Chemicals and waste, sediment, and disease organisms are among the most common watershed pollutants (materials which cause damage to the environment). Major sources of pollution include industry, agriculture, construction, garbage, and waste disposal.

Chemical and Waste Pollution
Sediment Pollution
Disease Organism Pollution