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Stagnant water can be dangerous for drinking because it provides a better incubator than running water for many kinds of bacteria and parasites. Stagnant water is often contaminated with human and animal feces, particularly in deserts or other areas of low rain.
Stagnant water may be classified into the following basic, although overlapping, types:
- Water body stagnation (stagnation in swamp, lake, lagoon, river, etc.)
- Surface and ground waters stagnation
- Trapped water stagnation. The water may be trapped in human artifacts (discarded cans, plant pots, tires, dug-outs, roofs, etc.), as well as in natural containers, such as hollow tree trunks, leaf sheath etc.
To avoid ground and surface water stagnation, drainage of surface and subsoil is advised. Areas with a shallow water table are more susceptible to ground water stagnation due to the lower availability of natural soil drainage.
Life that may thrive in stagnant water
Some plants prefer flowing water, while others, such as lotuses, prefer stagnant water.
Various anaerobic bacteria are commonly found in stagnant water. For this reason, pools of stagnant water have historically been used in processing hemp and some other fiber crops, as well as linden bark used for making bast shoes. Several weeks of soaking makes bast fibers easily separable due to bacterial and fermentative processes known as retting.
- Lepisosteidae (gar)
- Northern snakehead fish
- Pygmy gourami
- Spotted barb
- Walking catfish
- Asian swamp eel
Stagnant water is the favorite breeding ground for a number of insects.
- "General Article: Yellow Fever and Malaria in the Canal". Panama Canal (film). American Experience. Boston, MA: WGBH Educational Foundation. 2010.
- Health Risks Associated with Stagnant Water (PDF) (Report). Recommendations for Occupational Health and Safety Following Disasters. World Health Organization. 2013.