Water pollution facts and figures

1. Every year, approximately 75,000 litres of detergents and 12,000 kilograms of dirt and other pollutants flow into North Shore City’s streams, lakes and beaches from people washing their cars on the road.

2. In one week, a typical cruise ship generates: (a) 795,900 litres of sewage (b) 3.8 million litres of ‘grey water’ from showers, sinks, dishwashers and washing machines (c) 149,230 litres of oily bilge water (d) More than 8,128 kgs of solid waste and (e) Toxic wastes from onboard operations like dry cleaners and photo-processing bottles.

3. Rio’s de Janeiro’s stunning Guanabara Bay was a stunning view some time back, but now, the area is heavily polluted and sailors here have to add evading obstacles – everything from TVs, floating bed frames and dead animals – to their skulls. According to Rio’s Deputy State Secretary of Environment Gelson Serva, only 34% of Rio’s sewage is treated – the rest is spilt raw into the waters.

4. Accidents involving oil tankers or offshore platforms or oil pipelines have caused many and sometimes very large oil spills. Such spills are the most obvious, visible and dramatic causes of acute oil pollution of the marine environment. However, the largest oil spill ever was caused by Iraq deliberately releasing about 240 million gallons (about 800,000 tonnes) of crude oil into the Persian Gulf during the 1991 Gulf War and burnt oil wells in Kuwait.

5. In the USA alone, an estimated 200 million gallons of used motor oil are improperly disposed of by dumping on the ground, tossed in the trash (ending up in landfills) and poured down storey sewers and drains. EPA, Collecting Used Oil for Recycling/Reuse


1. Natural Resources Defense Council, Water. www.nrdc.org/water/
2. Watercare, Au. Water Pollution Fact, Sheet 1 PDF
3. Rio's Olympic waters blighted by heavy pollution. By Julia Carneiro, BBC Brasil, Rio de Janeiro
4. UK Rivers Network, www.ukrivers.net/pollution.html
5. Accidental discharges of oil. www.oils.gpa.unep.org/facts/oilspills.htm
6. EPA, Collecting Used Oil for Recycling/Reuse. www.epa.gov/osw/wycd/downloads/recy-oil.pdf
7. Managing Water under Uncertainty and Risk. The UN World Water Development Report 4 VOL1
8. Lesson 4, Water Pollution www.water.me.vccs.edu/courses/env227/lesson4_print.htm
9. BBC News, www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-latin-america-25686805
10. Accidental discharges of oil; www.oils.gpa.unep.org/facts/oilspills.htm