Water: An Important Natural Resource Used Every Day
Even though water is the most vital resource on Earth, a number of factors, both as a result of environmental and human impacts, have diminished its availability. In recent years, policies have been put in place to help manage, save and protect water. However, the lack of and contamination of water still stand as pertinent issues today.
- Overpopulation in water depleted areas.
- Urbanization of rural or suburban areas to cities.
- Higher standards of living.
- Pollutant run-off in bodies of water.
- Global warming is contributing towards irregular water distribution.
- Precipitation, which is when water vapor condenses in the air and falls due to gravity.
- Evaporation, when water is vaporized at the surface and the molecules rise up into the atmosphere.
Understanding the hydrologic cycle can play an integral role in determining water availability. Another important aspect of the water cycle is transpiration, where water is vaporized from parts of plants. More than half of the water used by humans comes from groundwater found in soil and vegetation.
- Frozen Water: Depending on the average temperature each season, varying amounts of ice melt into streams from glaciers. Unfortunately, many are beginning to shrink, an indication of unprecedented global warming. Most of the fresh water available on Earth is contained in these frozen regions, however, nearly all of this water is not accessible since it is confined to the polar regions.
- Lakes: Surface water refers to lakes, but more broadly, reservoirs, streams and rivers as well. Lakes accumulate water from rainfall as well as melted snow and ice from higher elevations. Lakes hold less than 1% of the Earth's fresh water supply, however they are accountable for more than 3/4 of all annually renewed water.
- Rivers: The Earth is covered by rivers and streams, with nearly half of all the land surface serving as drainage areas for river basins. The flow of water in rivers varies, depending on the season as well as geographical and climatic region. Tropical areas receive more consistent, ample flows, whereas dry lands experience long periods of drought and only minimal flow following storms.
- Wetlands and Marshes: Only about 6% of land surface consists of swamps, marshes and lagoons. However, they play an integral role in maintaining ecosystems as well as water resources. Unfortunately, a number of them have been damaged or destroyed due to deforestation, pollution and urbanization.
- Underground Water Resources: As much as 96% of all liquid-state (unfrozen) freshwater lies below the Earth's surface. The water at this level serves a multitude of purposes, from supplying streams and wetlands, to maintaining stable Earth's surface, to serving most human water needs. If you look at groundwater as a resource, two things need to be considered: how much water there is in terms of volume, and whether or not it is renewable.
The chemical formula for water is H2O, which means that one water molecule contains two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom. Hydrogen atoms are linked to one side of the oxygen atom. The side of the hydrogen atoms has a positive charge and the side of the oxygen atom has a negative charge. These opposite electrical charges attract each other giving water a kind of sticky property. These negative charges may also attract the positive charges of other water molecules. This attraction results in water molecules combine to make drops and and eventually bodies of water.
- Water Chemistry: An overview of water chemistry.
- The Chemistry of Water: Comprehensive explanation of the chemistry of water.
- Properties of Water: Find out about the properties of water in this document.
- States of Water: Clear description of the three states of water.
- Understanding H²O: Learn about the chemical structure, electrolysis, and properties of water.
- Water Structure and Science: Extensive information about the chemical structure and science of water.
- Water Cycle Diagram: An illustrated explanation of the water cycle.
- The Water Cycle: Description of the multi-phased journey of water on Earth.
- Story of Water Cycle: Interactive presentation of the water cycle.
- Water Cycle Processes: This document describes the different processes of the water cycle.
- Hydrologic Cycle: Detailed discussion on the hydrologic cycle.
- Water Use: A web page that describes the various ways that water is used in the United States.
- Uses of Water: Learn about the many uses of water in this web page.
- Industrial Water Use: Article that reveals how water is used in industrial activities.
- Agricultural Water Use: Frequently asked questions about agricultural use of water in the United States.
- Benefits of Water: A list of beneficial uses of water.
Natural water in certain places may not be clean enough for human consumption, because it contains bacteria that can cause health problems such as diarrhea and even death. As such, it has to be purified and treated before it is distributed to the masses for consumption. In the past, most people boiled water from tap or other sources before they drank it. Nowadays, drinking water is available in several forms, including filtered water and bottled water.
- Drinking Water: Lots of information on drinking water.
- Safe Drinking Water: Find out what kind of water is safe for drinking.
- Quality of Drinking Water: Drinking water quality guidelines from the World Health Organization.
- Bottled Water: Web page that provides useful information about bottled water.
- Tap, Bottled, or Filtered Water: Learn how to choose the safest drinking water.
- Water Pollution: Document that discusses the causes and effects of water pollution.
- Water Pollution Statistics: Statistics on water pollution from the United Nations
- Water Pollution and Society: An excellent article that shows the effects of water pollution on the society.
- Type of Water Pollution: Description of different types of water pollution.
- Acid Rain: Web page with lots of articles about acid rain.
- Water Usage: Find out how much water is used for different activities.
- Water Conservation Facts: Fact sheet that contains interesting information about water conservation.
- Water Conservation: Web page that promotes the practice of water conservation.
- Water Saving Tips: A long list of water conservation tips.