Water, Life Cannot Exist Without It
Water is the world’s most natural resource and without it there would be no life on earth. Nature limits our available supply of water. Virtually all of human uses require fresh water. 97% of the Earth’s water is salt water and only 2.5% is fresh water of which over two thirds is frozen in glaciers and polar ice caps. The unfrozen freshwater is mainly ground water with only a fraction on the surface. Fresh water is a renewable resource but the world usage of clean water is resulting in a steadily decreasing supply. There is a process know as Desalination which is an artificial process by which saline water (sea water) is converted into fresh water. This process is known as reverse osmosis. This process is very expensive and very little human use is satisfied by desalination.
As the world population rises at an unprecedented rate, areas that are experiencing imbalances in supply and demand increases. Water scarcity contributes to instability of regions by depleting the health of a population and obstructing economic development. This effect on regions has been termed “Water Stress”. Water stress, according to the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, applies to situations where there is not enough water for all uses, whether agriculture, industrial or domestic. Defining thresholds for water stress is determined by a complex, entailing assumption about water and its efficiency. The factors used to determine the level of water stress that hampers economic development and human health are population growth, increased affluence, and expansion of business activity, rapid urbanization, and climate change, depletion of aquifers, pollution and water protection.
The water cycle itself is important in understanding how this precious natural resource renews itself, but as mentioned earlier fresh surface water (or ground water) is what keeps life going. Usable freshwater is relatively scarce and only represents about 3% of all water on Earth. Ground water begins as precipitation that infiltrates into the surface soil and rock. Some water that infiltrates will remain in the shallow soil layer. Eventually it might enter a stream or lake on the surface and some may infiltrate deeper, recharging ground-water aquifers. If aquifers are shallow or porous enough for water to move freely through a well can be drilled for use of the water.
The health and economic effects of a shortage of clean water is of great concern and has resulted in the evolution of the science “Hydrology” to understand the complex water system of the earth and help find solutions to problems we are facing. Hydrologists study the fundamental transport process to describe the quantity and quality of water as it moves through the cycle (evaporation, precipitation, stream flow, infiltration, groundwater flow, and other components. Engineering hydrologists or water resources engineer is involved in the planning, analysis, design, construction and operation of projects for the control, utilization and management of water resources. Meteorologists, oceanographers, geologists, chemists, physicists, biologists, economists, political scientists, specialists in applied mathematics and computer science, and engineers in several fields are also concerned and involved in a solution to water resources problems. The scientific community has taken a closer look at the “Water Cycle” which is the existence and movement of water on, in, ad above the Earth. Water is always in movement and changing states from liquid to vapor to ice and back again. The water cycle has no starting point, it just continually cycles.
The Universities Council on Water Resources conducted a study of estimated water use in the United States and determined that in 1980 water use in the United States was estimated to be an average of 450 million gallons per day, a 22% increase from 1970 estimate. Average per capital use was 1,600...
References: West, L, Your Guide to Environmental Issues “Global Water Supply Drying Up as Population Grows” http://environment.about.com/od/biodiversityconservation/a/watersupply.htm.
Water Conservation Tips, Household Hints to Conserve Water and Money, http://www.monolake.org/waterconservation/
Climate Change – Health and Environmental Effects, Water Resources/Climate Change- Health and Environmental Effects/U.S. EPA http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/effecrts/water/index.html
Hydrology, The Universities Council on Water Resources (UCOWR) Organization. http://www.uncowr.siu.edu/about.html
U.S. Geological Survey: The Water Cycle http://ga.water.usgs.gov.edu/watercyclesummary.html
Please join StudyMode to read the full document