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In order to fully understand the state of the LA River, it's important to talk about the main culprit behind its downfall: water pollution. Water pollution is defined as the contamination of water with different chemicals and waste that is toxic and harmful for people and the environment.


It is the one kind of pollution that has the power to strip away our natural sources of water and to ultimately strip humanity of its source of life. Unfortunately, water pollution isn't limited to the LA River; it also affects the ocean, lakes, and most large bodies of water. But knowing about the different water types and how they're polluted can help us stay informed on how to preserve them as well as the environment.


Groundwater is the water that lies deep within the soil, and it provides a source of water for irrigation as well as drinking. One might think that this type of water is safe from pollution under the ground, but that is far from the truth. The main culprits of groundwater pollution are septic systems, reckless use of hazardous materials, and landfills.

Surface Water

Surface waters are our lakes and rivers. When surface waters are polluted, they can cause life-threatening effects. Pathogens coming from human and industrial waste can transform our best source of water into the world's most dangerous drink. Ultimately, this can cause diseases that go beyond our ability to treat and recover from them.

The Ocean

ince contaminated rivers lead to the ocean, its pollution is inevitable. But a polluted ocean is not just a result of contaminated surface waters. The ocean has become contaminated by offshore oil drilling, trash, our use of fossil fuels, and other types of pollution. Pollution continues to kill organisms that have lived in the ocean longer than America has been a country. Ocean pollution also threatens our health by contaminating the fish that we eat.

What We Can Do

As a society, we have the power to come together and change the way we treat our water and the environment as a whole. Although the hard truth on pollution seems discouraging, it still isn't too late for you to take action. Even the smallest changes in your personal habits can make a difference.

There are plenty of ways to get involved and help prevent further pollution of our precious waters. While the government's enactment of the Clean Water Act has helped, we all still need to play our part.

Here are some additional resources on water pollution, how you can help, and where we can go from here: