Health Review: Fresh Water
Fresh water is necessary to drink, but it is also a requirement for our food production, including the watering of crops. Without it, our quality of life would significantly diminish and would become increasingly unsustainable.
- World Health Organization: How does safe water impact global health?
- Conservation International: The fresh water health index
Your Health and Water
Drinking enough water is vital for our health. Water helps to regulate our body temperature. It cushions and lubricates joints, gets rid of waste, and helps to protect sensitive tissues including the spinal cord.
In addition to regulating and maintaining your health, choosing water instead of soda or other high-calorie beverages can help you to lose pounds and maintain a healthy weight. It is also more affordable than other beverages.
- Centers for Disease Control: Water & Nutrition
- Harvard Medical School: The big benefits of plain water
Facts About Water
Do you know everything there is to know about water? Test your knowledge and check out the facts below.
- Water covers approximately 70 percent of the planet’s surface
- Water is a compound of hydrogen and oxygen
- Many foods have a high water content
- Water expands when it freezes
- Water can cause land erosion
- Water is necessary for us to live
- Over 90% of the water we consume goes to agriculture
- We use water for more than just food and drinking water
- Leaks make up eight percent of home water usage
- Filling the bathtub takes approximately 50 gallons of water
- Sweet Briar College: What do you know about water?
- Columbia University: Water and food facts for World Water Day
- University of California, San Diego: Water conservation facts
Where Freshwater Comes From
Fresh water comes from mountain ice, ponds, lakes, streams, rivers, and wetlands. The plants and animals that live and flourish in these areas, called freshwater biomes, are usually adapted to the conditions and would not survive in areas with water containing a higher salt content, such as ocean water.
Water Erosion and Pollution (types, effects, etc.)
Water erosion is a natural phenomenon that can sometimes have destructive results. It can cause soil degradation and may reduce that soil’s productivity.
There are four primary types of water erosion: inter-rill erosion, rill erosion, gully erosion, and streambank erosion. The first, inter-rill erosion, is caused by rainfall, while rill erosion is often a secondary type of erosion that occurs due to rain. Gully erosion is caused by large streams of water, and streambank erosion occurs when rivers and streams cut into riverbanks.
Water pollution is the contamination of bodies of water, usually caused by industrial or human intervention. It is a serious problem as the world population continues to grow while limited freshwater sources become polluted.
- University of Nebraska-Lincoln: Water erosion of agricultural land
- World Wide Fund for Nature: Water pollution
Fresh Water and Climate Change
Climate change is predicted to bring increasing temperatures, which may impact freshwater sources. Studies have already shown an increase in the temperature of many lakes. There is an increased risk for algal blooms when water temperatures increase. These blooms can prove to be deadly for local wildlife and plants.
Climate change may also alter how we farm and use land, which may also have an effect on limited resources such as available fresh water.
- Northeast Climate Science Center: Climate impact on freshwater resources and ecosystems
- NASA: Study: Climate change rapidly warming world’s lakes
Fresh Water Crisis
The amount of fresh water on the planet has not changed over time, but our growing population has. The water amount that we have remains fairly constant because of the natural water cycle that brings water into the atmosphere and then back down to the ground. Unfortunately, most of the earth’s fresh water is trapped in glaciers, and while it exists, it is not currently in a useable or accessible form. This can become a problem when there are more people who need to rely on it.
- National Geographic: Freshwater crisis
- org: The water crisis
- World Resources Institute: 7 reasons we’re facing a global water crisis
There are things that we can do to keep our fresh water safe and available for when we need it. Reducing the amount of water that we waste is one of those things.
Here are some things that you can do at home to help conserve water:
- Fix any leaks when they occur
- Install water-saving shower heads and faucets
- Get low-flow toilets installed
- Create a yard and garden that require less watering, either by using native plants that require less water, or by replacing grassy areas with stones, concrete, or other materials
- Collect rainwater to water plants and wash the car
- Take shorter showers
- Only use the dishwasher and washing machine when there is enough for a complete load
- Don’t leave the water running when you are washing or rinsing dishes
- Cover your swimming pool to reduce evaporation
- Clean driveways and sidewalks with a broom rather than water from a hose
- United Nations: Water
- Mono Lake Committee: Water conservation
- University of Nebraska, National Drought Mitigation Center: Water conservation
Fresh Water Experiments for Kids
Learn the differences between how freshwater and saltwater freeze with this fun experiment from Arizona State University: When water gets icy.
See if an ice cube will met faster in saltwater or freshwater, and find out why, with this experiment by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology: Will an ice cube melt faster in freshwater or saltwater?
See if hot water and cold water mix with this fun experiment from the Exploratorium: The amazing water trick: Do hot water and cold water mix?
Simulate the amount of freshwater on the planet with this experiment by the University of Michigan: Activity: Can you spare a drop? Measuring freshwater.
Do you have an egg? Then you can do this experiment to determine the density of water. Check it out at Randolph College’s website: Egg and saltwater experiment: Density of water.