The rivers, ponds, and lakes in the U.S and other western countries are slowly but surely being polluted. This is probably true for almost all unprotected water sources. However, some are being more polluted than others, such as the Delaware River, which is currently undergoing cleanup as well as repair and restoration.
However, you may be asking a question similar to this; how ARE U.S. rivers being polluted? That’s just the thing. It is not very easy for me to give you a simple answer, as there are many different ways that rivers in the United States are being polluted in this day and age. However, I will certainly try my best to go over some of the ways that are in use the very most today, at least in the U.S., but I am sure that it applies to other countries as well.
1. Pure Laziness
If you have ever seen fisherman down by the pier, then you know exactly what I mean. A lot of these people bring their friends and family with them down to the ocean side for a relaxing night of fishing and drinking. The last part is the kicker; drinking. So many beer cans and beer bottles, as well as caps and other litter, are either left by the water, thrown into the sea, or just left behind right on the dock. The wind then catches these smaller and lighter items and then flings them down into the water as well. Then fish will see something shiny, be attracted to it, and then bite down on the plastic and metal, which are then ingested (via the fish) by seagulls.
Because of this chain reaction, you now have dozens of dead seagulls and hundreds of dead fish filled with plastic and metal. This leads to multiple things. The first of which is pollution that sinks to the bottom of the river, and also a significant amount of fish and birds dying due to poisoning and indigestible things such as wire, fishing line, plastic, and metal.
2. Industrial Waste
A lot of industries have been known to dump their waste and excess chemicals and other materials into bodies of water. This was done for decades and decades, maybe even around two hundred years, until it was prohibited and laws were enacted. A lot of companies still do this, though, but most refrained from this act because of the severe fines and legal penalties that are affiliated with the crime once caught.
These are the two main reasons that rivers are being polluted today. To recap, you have people who are either intentionally or unintentionally (usually the former) littering and leaving behind garbage. The second reason is companies and other industries leaving behind waste which then pollutes the water, either directly or indirectly, legally or illegally, through loopholes in the system. Read more from National Geographic on Industrial Waste.