Urban areas contaminate water with pollutants from people (e.g., human waste), runoff from impervious surfaces, and discharges from various industries located in urban areas. Pollution from other industries not located in urban areas (e.g., mining and processing, etc.) can also pose a significant threat to freshwater biodiversity.

In “developed” countries, regulations and enforcement have resulted in a marked reduction of water quality impacts from these sources. However, water quality impacts from these sources in many “developing” countries are still quite high due to a lack of adequate sanitation and regulation or enforcement.

For example, 70 percent of industrial waste water in developing countries is not treated before being discharged into the environment, thus degrading ecological health, endangering species and making the water unfit for other human uses. Regulation and wastewater treatment, coupled with adequate enforcement, offer tremendous potential for reducing these point sources.