It is true that over 70% of our planet’s surface is covered with water. We all learned about the Water Cycle in elementary school… Did you know there is the same amount of water that courses through Earth’s hydrologic cycle today that did when Earth first existed? Do you know how much of that is obtainable for human drinking and living use?
→Take a look at this bar graph that shows a breakdown of Earth’s water and where it can be found! (USGS, 2019)
For now, this leaves the 7.8 billion humans to use the less than 0.5% of the Earth’s fresh water supply that can be easily accessed for purification. Most freshwater is found in underground water reservoirs (about 60% more than surface water) called aquifers. These aquifers supply water to many wells and springs and are an important source of our fresh drinking water supply.
[ ak-wuh-fer ]noun:
any geological formation containing or conducting ground water, especially one that supplies the water for wells, springs, etc.
← Here we have the Earth in comparison to different sources of water. (USGS, 2019)
→The largest blue sphere represents all of Earth’s water including all ground and surface water, the water inside you and I, the atmosphere and the plants outside.
→ The second largest blue sphere is all of Earth’s Liquid Freshwater like groundwater, lakes and rivers.
→ The tiniest sphere represents only the water in lakes and rivers which supply most of the water life on Earth uses every day.
The scarcity of water comes not from how MUCH water is on Earth that is usable, but from how MANY people inhabit the Earth now and how MUCH we are using for daily use (drinking, cooking, cleaning, bathing) and other things like manufacturing. For example, on average, the American Family uses over 500 gallons of water per day, whereas the average in Africa is about 5 gallons per day per family (AFW, 2013).
What can you do to help?
Cutting down on water in simple ways in your house can add up and make an impact on your water saving. Here are a couple tips to help conserve water in your household:
1. Turn off the faucet while brushing your teeth
2. Make sure you fill your dishwasher instead of running partial loads
3. Use brooms to sweep off patios and walkways instead of water.
4. When necessary, water your plants and grass in the evening time when the sun is not beating down.
5. Wash your cars in the evening as well.
6. Turn the water off in between dish washing and rinsing.
7. Make showers short and sweet.
8. Fix any leaks as soon as possible.
9. Run full loads of laundry
10. Invest in water-saving appliances.
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Sources and Further Readings:
Castelo, 2018, What is the Percentage of Drinkable Water on Earth?
USGS, 2019, Where is Earth’s Water?
USGS, 2019, How Much Water is There on Earth?
African Wildlife Foundation (AWF), 2013, How Does Water Use in the United States Compare to That in Africa?