When getting involved in the marine world for the first time, there are a ton of new words and concepts one must become familiar with. Certain key systems, such as the ballast water treatment system are vital elements of large boats worldwide.
What is Ballast Water?
Ballast water is sea or river water that is pumped into the bottom portion of the boat. This adds the weight needed to keep the boat sunk to the appropriate depth in the water. This simple concept has saved thousands of lives and ships as it helps to reduce the tendency to run aground or capsize. A vital part of large shipping vessels, ballast water collection can also pose a serious threat to the environment.
The water taken on for ballast water is taken from the body of water the ship is in. With old fashioned ballast systems, water and everything in it, was pumped into the ballast of the boat. This means that many unknowing and unwitting plants and animals get sucked into the system. Newer treatment technologies are helping to reduce the negative impacts of ballast water.
How is it Treated?
A ballast water treatment system helps to reduce the negative impacts of the taking on of ballast water. Many new systems have incredibly good filtration systems that safely keep marine life out of the ballast water. Some use irradiation or chemicals as a means of sterilizing the ballast water so as to keep marine life out of the ballast.
Not only does much of the marine life trapped in ballast water die, it is also what is responsible for invasive species being introduced to other lands. Marine life, not indigenous to ports of call, are carried in the ballast water and released into these new areas. They can quickly become a major ecological problem. Without predators, they can quickly tap out food resources and throw the whole environment into a tailspin. Invasive species have resulted in the loss of many native, useful and prized marine species, making the avoidance of species contamination an important element of modern day shipping.
Many of these newer treatment options that seek to reduce the negative environmental impact of taking on ballast water can be retrofitted onto an existing ballast pump, making it an economical choice as well. These systems allow for large ships to take on the ballast water they need, without taking in the surrounding marine life as well. Ballast water treatment systems are also now often designed to be used without chemicals and other noxious materials that can make their way into the waters and potentially contaminate them.