Water pollution is the contamination of water bodies (e.g. lakes, rivers, oceans, aquifers and groundwater). Water pollution occurs when pollutants are directly or indirectly discharged into water bodies without adequate treatment to remove harmful compounds.
Water pollution affects plants and organisms living in these bodies of water. In almost all cases the effect is damaging not only to individual species and populations, but also to the natural biological communities.
Control of pollution
Decisions on the type and degree of treatment and control of wastes, and the disposal and use of adequately treated wastewater, must be based considering all the technical factors of each drainage basin, in order to prevent any further contamination or harm to the environment. 
Domestic sewage is typically 99.9 percent water with 0.1 percent pollutants. Although found in low concentrations, these pollutants pose risk on a large scale. In urban areas, domestic sewage is typically treated by centralized sewage treatment plants. Well-designed and operated systems (i.e., secondary treatment or better) can remove 90 percent or more of these pollutants. Some plants have additional systems to remove nutrients and pathogens. Most municipal plants are not specifically designed to treat toxic pollutants found in industrial wastewater.
Cities with sanitary sewer overflows or combined sewer overflows employ one or more engineering approaches to reduce discharges of untreated sewage, including:
- utilizing a green infrastructure approach to improve stormwater management capacity throughout the system, and reduce the hydraulic overloading of the treatment plant
- repair and replacement of leaking and malfunctioning equipment
- increasing overall hydraulic capacity of the sewage collection system (often a very expensive option).
A household or business not served by a municipal treatment plant may have an individual septic tank, which treats the wastewater on site and discharges into the soil. Alternatively, domestic wastewater may be sent to a nearby privately owned treatment system (e.g. in a rural community).
Some industrial facilities generate ordinary domestic sewage that can be treated by municipal facilities. Industries that generate wastewater with high concentrations of conventional pollutants (e.g. oil and grease), toxic pollutants (e.g. heavy metals, volatile organic compounds) or other nonconventional pollutants such as ammonia, need specialized treatment systems. Some of these facilities can install a pre-treatment system to remove the toxic components, and then send the partially treated wastewater to the municipal system. Industries generating large volumes of wastewater typically operate their own complete on-site treatment systems.
Some industries have been successful at redesigning their manufacturing processes to reduce or eliminate pollutants, through a process called pollution prevention. Heated water generated by power plants or manufacturing plants may be controlled with: