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 gallons per day of fresh water and 400 galls per day of saline water.The total fresh water consumed increase from 1,600 gallons per day to 100 billion gallons per day, with irrigation in the western states accounting for about 80 percent of total water consumed. This study concluded by the year 2000 that 17 out of 21 water resources regions of the United States will suffer from inadequate surface and underground (groundwater) water supplies, flooding, erosion and sedimentation problems, and pollution of both surface water and groundwater.
As indicated in the study the predicted effects are being felt today. In the third week of August 2007 there was a major flooding event.Eighteen deaths across the central United States were attributed to the resulting flooding.
Twenty-one counties in Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin, and six counties in Illinois were declared Federal Disaster Areas. Floods of this magnitude have cause massive erosion, sedimentation problems and have polluted precious surface and ground water. The availability of surface water for swimming, drinking industrial or other uses sometimes is restricted because of pollution. Pollution can be merely and unsightly and inconvenient nuisance or it can be an invisible, but deadly, threat to the health of people, plants and animals.
Hydrologists assist public health officials in monitoring public water supplies to ensure that health standards are met. Water quality in estuaries, streams, rivers and lakes must be monitored, and the health of fish, plants and wildlife. The Universities Council on Water Resources also noted that the huge Ogallala aquifer, the primary source of water for the agricultural high plains of West Texas and the Great Plain states was depleted by one-fourth. Many cities in these areas use every drop of water available locally.Water levels in wells in these areas have dropped as much as several feet in the past 30 years. A man-made aqueduct is being built to bring water to Tucson from the Colorado River which is more than 200 miles away. Los Angeles and other cities in Southern California draw their fresh water from as far as 340 miles away.
New York, San Francisco and Denver also rely on water imported from large distances. Population growth continues at an extremely fast pace throughout the world which makes it essential to survival of life to find ways to conserve and preserve this precious resource.Now is the time to realize that in order to sustain life on earth there is a need to come up with efficient and effective way to preserve and protect the earth and resources for future generations. Every day use of water and the impact on the supply needs to be examined for areas of improvement. For example, a hamburger for lunch requires water to raise wheat for the bun, to grow hay and corn to fee the cattle and to process the bread and beef. Together with French fries and a soft drink, the all-American meal uses about 1,500 gallons of water which is enough to fill a small swimming pool.
A pair of jeans takes about 1,000 gallons of water to grow the cotton, a shirt around 400 gallons. The steel in a car has in the past required about 32,000 gallons of water, a bicycle 480 gallons. Industries must continue to strive to reduce water use through manufacturing processes that use less water and through recycling of water. Pollution of our lakes and streams are unsightly and no very appealing to swimmers, hikers and campers. Ground water pollution is less visible and more insidious and difficult to clean up than pollution in rivers and lakes.Groundwater pollution most often results from improper disposal of wastes on land fro industrial and household chemicals, garbage in landfills, industrial lagoons, tailings and process wastewater from mines, oil field brine pits, leaking underground oil storage tanks and pipelines, sewage sludge and septic systems. Monitoring wells around waste disposal sites and samples are collected by Hydrologists at regular intervals to determine if contaminated water containing toxic or hazardous chemicals is reach the groundwater. Soil and water samples are collected to identify the type and extent of contamination.
The results are plotted on a map to show the size and direction of waste movement. Computer models of water flow and waste migration provides guidance of clean-up program, which may require excavation of the polluted soil. It has been realized that it is far less expensive to prevent pollution than to clean-up pollution. Dangers of pollution have been minimized by locating wells in areas of deep groundwater and impermeable soils. Lining the bottom of a landfill with watertight materials, collecting any leachate with drains, and keeping the landfill surface covered as much as possible can limit ground water contamination.Scientists, economists and government officials around the world are working in collaboration to develop innovative and creative resolutions to the depleting fresh water supply but we as living being also need to help in this very important cause. Every household can contribute to the cause outside our homes by watering lawns only when it needs it or watering with a hose can save up to 750 to 1,500 gallons of water per month.
A layer of mulch around trees and plants, chunks of bark, peat moss or gravel slows down evaporation and the need to water as often.Cover backyard swimming pools to cut down on evaporation and will also keep your pool cleaner and reduce the need to add chemicals. Fixing leaky faucets and plumbing can save up to 20 gallons per day for every leak stopped. The installation of water-saving shower heads or flow restrictors, running only full loads of laundry, running the dishwasher only when it is full, taking shorter showers, using a broom instead of a hose to clean driveways and sidewalks and not using the toilet as an ashtray or wastebasket are simple ways to conserve but can save up to 3,000 to 4,000 gallons of water per month.
We must also be conscious to use environmental friendly products that are not as harmful to our environment. More and more products that are environmentally friendly are being created and organically grown foods due to the concern with pollution and contamination of our natural resources. Always be aware of the fact that what runs into our storm drains end up in our fresh water supply. The trash that is just tossed ends up in our rivers and streams polluting them and endangering the life that lives in and around them.As we are enjoying water skiing, tubing and boating on the lake, hiking, camping, fishing or just enjoying nature and its beauty we must realize that if care is not taken to preserve the quality and quantity of our natural resources these things will not exist. The survival of every living thing on earth now and in the future depends on our conscious efforts to preserve the things that give us life and enjoyment. REFERENCES: West, L, Your Guide to Environmental Issues “Global Water Supply Drying Up as Population Grows” http://environment.
about. om/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.