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What causes water pollution? That question can be quite difficult to answer, because so many different factors contribute to water supply contamination. The three primary sources of water pollution are: (1) municipal, (2) industrial, and (3) agricultural.
Municipal: Waste water from residential and commercial facilities is sent to municipal wastewater facilities for treatment. The process of treating water for reuse is a very complex and costly undertaking, and the stresses placed on treatment facilities increases as populations grow and industrial waste products become more complex and dangerous.
Industrial: Wastewater resulting from industrial activities contributes directly to both the increased stress placed on municipal wastewater treatment facilities and to direct pollution of the water supply itself. Pollution types vary by industry, based on the types of organic and synthetic substances used during the manufacturing process and the byproducts present in the resulting wastewater.
Agricultural: Both surface and groundwater are subject to pollution from agricultural waste. Agriculturally based water supply contamination can result from animal waste, the use of chemical fertilizers, and sedimentation that occurs due to the erosion of farmland.