Water is a precious thing. However, the water crisis the entire world is facing right now is directly indicating that the world war three would happen over the possession of this precious material only. Similar situation is faced by the Brazil’s capital Rio de Janeiro where the water off Rio’s coast, such as in Guanabara Bay, is overrun with pollution and sewage to the point that Olympic rowers, swimmers, and sailors were even told to take extra precautions to ensure that they minimize direct contact with the water.
Geoff Trussell, the chairman of the Department of Marine and Environmental Sciences and director of the Marine Science Center at Northeastern University elaborated on how the pollution affects the aquatic ecosystem in Rio and what can be done to clean up the problem. When asked how would he describe the water ecosystems around Rio and how do they differ from those in New England. His answer was straight-forward. Given its tropical location, Rio receives considerably more rainfall than the New England region. This, coupled with the comparatively higher topographic relief around the city, can exacerbate floods and landslides. Like coastal cities in New England, there is major coupling between the land and sea that can create major environmental challenges under high population density as well as high urbanization and agricultural activity.
These challenges are more acute in Rio compared to a city like Boston because the infrastructure that handles the movement of water through Rio and the treatment of its sewage is comparatively poor. The main culprit appears to be untreated human waste, which has led to high levels of viruses and bacteria. The problem arises when all of this new growth begins to die and decay due to light or nutrition limitations. The decomposition of this organic matter depletes oxygen in the water column, potentially leading to “dead zones.”