Water pollution is a large set of adverse effects upon water bodies (lakes, rivers, oceans, groundwater) caused by human activities.
Although natural phenomena such as volcanoes, storms, earthquakes etc. also cause major changes in water quality and the ecological status of water, these are not deemed to be pollution.
Water pollution has many causes and characteristics.
Increases in nutrient loading may lead to eutrophication.
Organic wastes such as sewage and farm waste impose high oxygen demands on the receiving water leading to oxygen depletion with potentially severe impacts on the whole eco-system.
Industries discharge a variety of pollutants in their wastewater including heavy metals, organic toxins, oils, nutrients, and solids.
Discharges can also have thermal effects, especially those from power stations, and these too reduce the available oxygen.
Silt-bearing runoff from many activities including construction sites, forestry and farms can inhibit the penetration of sunlight through the water column restricting photosynthesis and causing blanketing of the lake or river bed which in turns damages the ecology.