Water Is Precious Essay Wikipedia

This article is about general aspects of water. For a detailed discussion of its physical and chemical properties, see Properties of water. For other uses, see Water (disambiguation).

Water is a transparent and nearly colorless chemical substance that is the main constituent of Earth's streams, lakes, and oceans, and the fluids of most living organisms. Its chemical formula is H2O, meaning that each of its molecules contains one oxygen and two hydrogenatoms that are connected by covalent bonds. Strictly speaking, water refers to the liquid state of a substance that prevails at standard ambient temperature and pressure; but it often refers also to its solid state (ice) or its gaseous state (steam or water vapor). It also occurs in nature as snow, glaciers, ice packs and icebergs, clouds, fog, dew, aquifers, and atmospheric humidity.

Water covers 71% of the Earth's surface.[1] It is vital for all known forms of life. On Earth, 96.5% of the planet's crust water is found in seas and oceans, 1.7% in groundwater, 1.7% in glaciers and the ice caps of Antarctica and Greenland, a small fraction in other large water bodies, 0.001% in the air as vapor, clouds (formed of ice and liquid water suspended in air), and precipitation.[2][3] Only 2.5% of this water is freshwater, and 98.8% of that water is in ice (excepting ice in clouds) and groundwater. Less than 0.3% of all freshwater is in rivers, lakes, and the atmosphere, and an even smaller amount of the Earth's freshwater (0.003%) is contained within biological bodies and manufactured products.[2] A greater quantity of water is found in the earth's interior.[4]

Water on Earth moves continually through the water cycle of evaporation and transpiration (evapotranspiration), condensation, precipitation, and runoff, usually reaching the sea. Evaporation and transpiration contribute to the precipitation over land. Large amounts of water are also chemically combined or adsorbed in hydrated minerals.

Safe drinking water is essential to humans and other lifeforms even though it provides no calories or organicnutrients. Access to safe drinking water has improved over the last decades in almost every part of the world, but approximately one billion people still lack access to safe water and over 2.5 billion lack access to adequate sanitation.[5] However, some observers have estimated that by 2025 more than half of the world population will be facing water-based vulnerability.[6] A report, issued in November 2009, suggests that by 2030, in some developing regions of the world, water demand will exceed supply by 50%.[7]

Water plays an important role in the world economy. Approximately 70% of the freshwater used by humans goes to agriculture.[8] Fishing in salt and fresh water bodies is a major source of food for many parts of the world. Much of long-distance trade of commodities (such as oil and natural gas) and manufactured products is transported by boats through seas, rivers, lakes, and canals. Large quantities of water, ice, and steam are used for cooling and heating, in industry and homes. Water is an excellent solvent for a wide variety of chemical substances; as such it is widely used in industrial processes, and in cooking and washing. Water is also central to many sports and other forms of entertainment, such as swimming, pleasure boating, boat racing, surfing, sport fishing, and diving.

Etymology

The word "water" comes from "Old English wæter, from Proto-Germanic *watar (source also of Old Saxon watar, Old Frisian wetir, Dutch water, Old High German wazzar, German Wasser, Old Norse vatn, Gothic wato "water"), from PIE *wod-or, suffixed form of root *wed-... "water; wet."[9]

Chemical and physical properties

Main article: Properties of water

See also: Water (data page) and Water model

Water (H
2O) is a polarinorganic compound that is at room temperature a tasteless and odorless liquid, nearly colorless with a hint of blue. This simplest hydrogen chalcogenide is by far the most studied chemical compound and is described as the "universal solvent" for its ability to dissolve many substances.[10][11] This allows it to be the "solvent of life".[12] It is the only common substance to exist as a solid, liquid, and gas in normal terrestrial conditions.[13]

States

Water is a liquid at the temperatures and pressures that are most adequate for life. Specifically, at a standard pressure of 1 atm, water is a liquid between 0 °C (32 °F) and 100 °C (212 °F). Increasing the pressure slightly lowers the melting point, which is about −5 °C at 600 atm and −22 °C at 2100 atm. This effect is relevant, for example, to ice skating, to the buried lakes of Antarctica, and to the movement of glaciers. (At pressures higher than 2100 atm the melting point rapidly increases again, and ice takes several exotic forms that do not exist at lower pressures.)

Increasing the pressure has a more dramatic effect on the boiling point, that is about 374 °C at 220 atm. This effect is important in, among other things, deep-sea hydrothermal vents and geysers, pressure cooking, and steam engine design. At the top of Mount Everest, where the atmospheric pressure is about 0.34 atm, water boils at 68 °C (154 °F).

At very low pressures (below about 0.006 atm), water cannot exist in the liquid state and passes directly from solid to gas by sublimation—a phenomenon exploited in the freeze drying of food. At very high pressures (above 221 atm), the liquid and gas states are no longer distinguishable, a state called supercritical steam.

Water also differs from most liquids in that it becomes less dense as it freezes. The maximum density of water in its liquid form (at 1 atm) is 1,000 kg/m3 (62.43 lb/cu ft); that occurs at 3.98 °C (39.16 °F).[14] The density of ice is 917 kg/m3 (57.25 lb/cu ft).[15][16] Thus, water expands 9% in volume as it freezes, which accounts for the fact that ice floats on liquid water.

The details of the exact chemical nature of liquid water are not well understood; some theories suggest that water's unusual behaviour is as a result of it having 2 liquid states.[14][17][18][19]

Taste and odor

Pure water is usually described as tasteless and odorless, although humans have specific sensors that can feel the presence of water in their mouths,[20] and frogs are known to be able to smell it.[21] However, water from ordinary sources (including bottled mineral water) usually has many dissolved substances, that may give it varying tastes and odors. Humans and other animals have developed senses that enable them to evaluate the potability of water by avoiding water that is too salty or putrid.[22]

Color and appearance

The apparent color of natural bodies of water (and swimming pools) is often determined more by dissolved and suspended solids, or by reflection of the sky, than by water itself.

Light in the visible electromagnetic spectrum can traverse a couple meters of pure water (or ice) without significant absorption, so that it looks transparent and colorless.[23] Thus aquatic plants, algae, and other photosynthetic organisms can live in water up to hundreds of meters deep, because sunlight can reach them. Water vapour is essentially invisible as a gas.

Through a thickness of 10 meters or more, however, the intrinsic color of water (or ice) is visibly turquoise (greenish blue), as its absorption spectrum has a sharp minimum at the corresponding color of light (1/227 m−1 at 418 nm). The color becomes increasingly stronger and darker with increasing thickness. (Practically no sunlight reaches the parts of the oceans below 1000 meters of depth.) Infrared and ultraviolet light, on the other hand, is strongly absorbed by water.

The refraction index of liquid water (1.333 at 20 °C) is much higher than that of air (1.0), similar to those of alkanes and ethanol, but lower than those of glycerol (1.473), benzene (1.501), carbon disulfide (1.627), and common types of glass (1.4 to 1.6). The refraction index of ice (1.31) is lower than that of liquid water.

Polarity and hydrogen bonding

See also: Chemical bonding of H2O

Since the water molecule is not linear and the oxygen atom has a higher electronegativity than hydrogen atoms, it is a polar molecule, with an electrical dipole moment: the oxygen atom carries a slight negative charge, whereas the hydrogen atoms are slightly positive. Water is a good polar solvent, that dissolves many salts and hydrophilic organic molecules such as sugars and simple alcohols such as ethanol. Most acids dissolve in water to yield the corresponding anions. Many substances in living organisms, such as proteins, DNA and polysaccharides, are dissolved in water. Water also dissolves many gases, such as oxygen and carbon dioxide—the latter giving the fizz of carbonated beverages, sparkling wines and beers.

On the other hand, many organic substances (such as fats and oils and alkanes) are hydrophobic, that is, insoluble in water. Many inorganic substances are insoluble too, including most metal oxides, sulfides, and silicates.

Because of its polarity, a molecule of water in the liquid or solid state can form up to four hydrogen bonds with neighboring molecules. These bonds are the cause of water's high surface tension[24] and capillary forces. The capillary action refers to the tendency of water to move up a narrow tube against the force of gravity. This property is relied upon by all vascular plants, such as trees.[25]

The hydrogen bonds are also the reason why the melting and boiling points of water are much higher than those of other analogous compounds like hydrogen sulfide (H
2S). They also explain its exceptionally high specific heat capacity (about 4.2 J/g/K), heat of fusion (about 333 J/g), heat of vaporization (2257 J/g), and thermal conductivity (between 0.561 and 0.679 W/m/K). These properties make water more effective at moderating Earth's climate, by storing heat and transporting it between the oceans and the atmosphere. The hydrogen bonds of water are of moderate strength, around 23 kJ/mol (compared to a covalent O-H bond at 492 kJ/mol). Of this, it is estimated that 90% of the hydrogen bond is attributable to electrostatics, while the remaining 10% reflects partial covalent character.[26]

Electrical conductivity and electrolysis

Pure water has a low electrical conductivity, which increases with the dissolution of a small amount of ionic material such as common salt.

Liquid water can be split into the elements hydrogen and oxygen by passing an electric current through it—a process called electrolysis. The decomposition requires more energy input than the heat released by the inverse process (285.8 kJ/mol, or 15.9 MJ/kg).[27]

Mechanical properties

Liquid water can be assumed to be incompressible for most purposes: its compressibility ranges from 4.4 to 6990510000000000000♠5.1×10−10 Pa−1 in ordinary conditions.[28] Even in oceans at 4 km depth, where the pressure is 400 atm, water suffers only a 1.8% decrease in volume.[29]

The viscosity of water is about 10−3 Pa·s or 0.01 poise at 20 °C, and the speed of sound in liquid water ranges between 1400 and 1540 m/s depending on temperature. Sound travels long distances in water with little attenuation, especially at low frequencies (roughly 0.03 dB/km for 1 kHz), a property that is exploited by cetaceans and humans for communication and environment sensing (sonar).[30]

Reactivity

Elements which are more electropositive than hydrogen such as lithium, sodium, calcium, potassium and caesium displace hydrogen from water, forming hydroxides and releasing hydrogen.

On Earth

Main articles: Hydrology and Water distribution on Earth

Hydrology is the study of the movement, distribution, and quality of water throughout the Earth. The study of the distribution of water is hydrography. The study of the distribution and movement of groundwater is hydrogeology, of glaciers is glaciology, of inland waters is limnology and distribution of oceans is oceanography. Ecological processes with hydrology are in focus of ecohydrology.

The collective mass of water found on, under, and over the surface of a planet is called the hydrosphere. Earth's approximate water volume (the total water supply of the world) is 1,338,000,000 km3 (321,000,000 mi3).[2]

Liquid water is found in bodies of water, such as an ocean, sea, lake, river, stream, canal, pond, or puddle. The majority of water on Earth is sea water. Water is also present in the atmosphere in solid, liquid, and vapor states. It also exists as groundwater in aquifers.

Water is important in many geological processes. Groundwater is present in most rocks, and the pressure of this groundwater affects patterns of faulting. Water in the mantle is responsible for the melt that produces volcanoes at subduction zones. On the surface of the Earth, water is important in both chemical and physical weathering processes. Water, and to a lesser but still significant extent, ice, are also responsible for a large amount of sediment transport that occurs on the surface of the earth. Deposition of transported sediment forms many types of sedimentary rocks, which make up the geologic record of Earth history.

Water cycle

Main article: Water cycle

The water cycle (known scientifically as the hydrologic cycle) refers to the continuous exchange of water within the hydrosphere, between the atmosphere, soil water, surface water, groundwater, and plants.

Water moves perpetually through each of these regions in the water cycle consisting of following transfer processes:

  • evaporation from oceans and other water bodies into the air and transpiration from land plants and animals into air.
  • precipitation, from water vapor condensing from the air and falling to earth or ocean.
  • runoff from the land usually reaching the sea.

Most water vapor over the oceans returns to the oceans, but winds carry water vapor over land at the same rate as runoff into the sea, about 47 Tt per year. Over land, evaporation and transpiration contribute another 72 Tt per year. Precipitation, at a rate of 119 Tt per year over land, has several forms: most commonly rain, snow, and hail, with some contribution from fog and dew.[31] Dew is small drops of water that are condensed when a high density of water vapor meets a cool surface. Dew usually forms in the morning when the temperature is the lowest, just before sunrise and when the temperature of the earth's surface starts to increase.[32] Condensed water in the air may also refractsunlight to produce rainbows.

Water runoff often collects over watersheds flowing into rivers. A mathematical model used to simulate river or stream flow and calculate water quality parameters is a hydrological transport model. Some water is diverted to irrigation for agriculture. Rivers and seas offer opportunity for travel and commerce. Through erosion, runoff shapes the environment creating river valleys and deltas which provide rich soil and level ground for the establishment of population centers. A flood occurs when an area of land, usually low-lying, is covered with water. It is when a river overflows its banks or flood comes from the sea. A drought is an extended period of months or years when a region notes a deficiency in its water supply. This occurs when a region receives consistently below average precipitation.

Fresh water storage

Main article: Water resources

Some runoff water is trapped for periods of time, for example in lakes. At high altitude, during winter, and in the far north and south, snow collects in ice caps, snow pack and glaciers. Water also infiltrates the ground and goes into aquifers. This groundwater later flows back to the surface in springs, or more spectacularly in hot springs and geysers. Groundwater is also extracted artificially in wells. This water storage is important, since clean, fresh water is essential to human and other land-based life. In many parts of the world, it is in short supply.

Sea water and tides

Main articles: Seawater and Tides

Sea water contains about 3.5% sodium chloride on average, plus smaller amounts of other substances. The physical properties of sea water differ from fresh water in some important respects. It freezes at a lower temperature (about −1.9 °C) and its density increases with decreasing temperature to the freezing point, instead of reaching maximum density at a temperature above freezing. The salinity of water in major seas varies from about 0.7% in the Baltic Sea to 4.0% in the Red Sea. (The Dead Sea, known for its ultra-high salinity levels of between 30–40%, is really a salt lake.)

Tides are the cyclic rising and falling of local sea levels caused by the tidal forces of the Moon and the Sun acting on the oceans. Tides cause changes in the depth of the marine and estuarine water bodies and produce oscillating currents known as tidal streams. The changing tide produced at a given location is the result of the changing positions of the Moon and Sun relative to the Earth coupled with the effects of Earth rotation and the local bathymetry. The strip of seashore that is submerged at high tide and exposed at low tide, the intertidal zone, is an important ecological product of ocean tides.

Effects on life

From a biological standpoint, water has many distinct properties that are critical for the proliferation of life. It carries out this role by allowing organic compounds to react in ways that ultimately allow replication. All known forms of life depend on water. Water is vital both as a solvent in which many of the body's solutes dissolve and as an essential part of many metabolic processes within the body. Metabolism is the sum total of anabolism and catabolism. In anabolism, water is removed from molecules (through energy requiring enzymatic chemical reactions) in order to grow larger molecules (e.g. starches, triglycerides and proteins for storage of fuels and information). In catabolism, water is used to break bonds in order to generate smaller molecules (e.g. glucose, fatty acids and amino acids to be used for fuels for energy use or other purposes). Without water, these particular metabolic processes could not exist.

Water is fundamental to photosynthesis and respiration. Photosynthetic cells use the sun's energy to split off water's hydrogen from oxygen. Hydrogen is combined with CO2 (absorbed from air or water) to form glucose and release oxygen. All living cells use such fuels and oxidize the hydrogen and carbon to capture the sun's energy and reform water and CO2 in the process (cellular respiration).

Water is also central to acid-base neutrality and enzyme function. An acid, a hydrogen ion (H+, that is, a proton) donor, can be neutralized by a base, a proton acceptor such as a hydroxide ion (OH) to form water. Water is considered to be neutral, with a pH (the negative log of the hydrogen ion concentration) of 7. Acids have pH values less than 7 while bases have values greater than 7.

Aquatic life forms

Further information: Hydrobiology, Marine life, and Aquatic plant

Earth surface waters are filled with life. The earliest life forms appeared in water; nearly all fish live exclusively in water, and there are many types of marine mammals, such as dolphins and whales. Some kinds of animals, such as amphibians, spend portions of their lives in water and portions on land. Plants such as kelp and algae grow in the water and are the basis for some underwater ecosystems. Plankton is generally the foundation of the ocean food chain.

Aquatic vertebrates must obtain oxygen to survive, and they do so in various ways. Fish have gills instead of lungs, although some species of fish, such as the lungfish, have both. Marine mammals, such as dolphins, whales, otters, and seals need to surface periodically to breathe air. Some amphibians are able to absorb oxygen through their skin. Invertebrates exhibit a wide range of modifications to survive in poorly oxygenated waters including breathing tubes (see insect and mollusc siphons) and gills (Carcinus). However as invertebrate life evolved in an aquatic habitat most have little or no specialisation for respiration in water.

Effects on human civilization

Civilization has historically flourished around rivers and major waterways; Mesopotamia, the so-called cradle of civilization, was situated between the major rivers Tigris and Euphrates; the ancient society of the Egyptians depended entirely upon the Nile. Rome was also founded on the banks of the Italian river Tiber. Large metropolises like Rotterdam, London, Montreal, Paris, New York City, Buenos Aires, Shanghai, Tokyo, Chicago, and Hong Kong owe their success in part to their easy accessibility via water and the resultant expansion of trade. Islands with safe water ports, like Singapore, have flourished for the same reason. In places such as North Africa and the Middle East, where water is more scarce, access to clean drinking water was and is a major factor in human development.

Health and pollution

Water fit for human consumption is called drinking water or potable water. Water that is not potable may be made potable by filtration or distillation, or by a range of other methods.

Water that is not fit for drinking but is not harmful for humans when used for swimming or bathing is called by various names other than potable or drinking water, and is sometimes called safe water, or "safe for bathing". Chlorine is a skin and mucous membrane irritant that is used to make water safe for bathing or drinking. Its use is highly technical and is usually monitored by government regulations (typically 1 part per million (ppm) for drinking water, and 1–2 ppm of chlorine not yet reacted with impurities for bathing water). Water for bathing may be maintained in satisfactory microbiological condition using chemical disinfectants such as chlorine or ozone or by the use of ultraviolet light.

In the US, non-potable forms of wastewater generated by humans may be referred to as greywater, which is treatable and thus easily able to be made potable again, and blackwater, which generally contains sewage and other forms of waste which require further treatment in order to be made reusable. Greywater composes 50–80% of residential wastewater generated by a household's sanitation equipment (sinks, showers and kitchen runoff, but not toilets, which generate blackwater.) These terms may have different meanings in other countries and cultures.

This natural resource is becoming scarcer in certain places, and its availability is a major social and economic concern. Currently, about a billion people around the world routinely drink unhealthy water. Most countries accepted the goal of halving by 2015 the number of people worldwide who do not have access to safe water and sanitation during the 2003 G8 Evian summit.[33] Even if this difficult goal is met, it will still leave more than an estimated half a billion people without access to safe drinking water and over a billion without access to adequate sanitation. Poor water quality and bad sanitation are deadly; some five million deaths a year are caused by polluted drinking water. The World Health Organization estimates that safe water could prevent 1.4 million child deaths from diarrhea each year.[34]

Water, however, is not a finite resource (meaning the availability of water is limited), but rather re-circulated as potable water in precipitation[35] in quantities many orders of magnitude higher than human consumption. Therefore, it is the relatively small quantity of water in reserve in the earth (about 1% of our drinking water supply,[citation needed] which is replenished in aquifers around every 1 to 10 years),[citation needed] that is a non-renewable resource, and it is, rather, the distribution of potable and irrigation water which is scarce,[clarification needed] rather than the actual amount of it that exists on the earth. Water-poor countries use importation of goods as the primary method of importing water (to leave enough for local human consumption),[further explanation needed] since the manufacturing process[clarification needed] uses around 10 to 100 times products' masses in water.[clarification needed]

In the developing world, 90% of all wastewater still goes untreated into local rivers and streams.[36] Some 50 countries, with roughly a third of the world's population, also suffer from medium or high water stress, and 17 of these extract more water annually than is recharged through their natural water cycles.[37] The strain not only affects surface freshwater bodies like rivers and lakes, but it also degrades groundwater resources.

Human uses

Further information: Water supply

Agriculture

The most important use of water in agriculture is for irrigation, which is a key component to produce enough food. Irrigation takes up to 90% of water withdrawn in some developing countries[38] and significant proportions in more economically developed countries (in the United States, 30% of freshwater usage is for irrigation).[39]

Fifty years ago, the common perception was that water was an infinite resource. At the time, there were fewer than half the current number of people on the planet. People were not as wealthy as today, consumed fewer calories and ate less meat, so less water was needed to produce their food. They required a third of the volume of water we presently take from rivers. Today, the competition for the fixed amount of water resources is much more intense, giving rise to the concept of peak water.[40] This is because there are now nearly seven billion people on the planet, their consumption of water-thirsty meat and vegetables is rising, and there is increasing competition for water from industry, urbanisation and biofuel crops. In future, even more water will be needed to produce food because the Earth's population is forecast to rise to 9 billion by 2050.[41]

An assessment of water management in agriculture was conducted in 2007 by the International Water Management Institute in Sri Lanka to see if the world had sufficient water to provide food for its growing population.[42] It assessed the current availability of water for agriculture on a global scale and mapped out locations suffering from water scarcity. It found that a fifth of the world's people, more than 1.2 billion, live in areas of physical water scarcity, where there is not enough water to meet all demands. A further 1.6 billion people live in areas experiencing economic water scarcity, where the lack of investment in water or insufficient human capacity make it impossible for authorities to satisfy the demand for water. The report found that it would be possible to produce the food required in future, but that continuation of today's food production and environmental trends would lead to crises in many parts of the world. To avoid a global water crisis, farmers will have to strive to increase productivity to meet growing demands for food, while industry and cities find ways to use water more efficiently.[43]

Water scarcity is also caused by production of cotton: 1 kg of cotton—equivalent of a pair of jeans—requires 10.9 m3 water to produce. While cotton accounts for 2.4% of world water use, the water is consumed in regions which are already at a risk of water shortage. Significant environmental damage has been caused, such as disappearance of the Aral Sea.[44]

As a scientific standard

On 7 April 1795, the gram was defined in France to be equal to "the absolute weight of a volume of pure water equal to a cube of one hundredth of a meter, and at the temperature of melting ice".[45] For practical purposes though, a metallic reference standard was required, one thousand times more massive, the kilogram. Work was therefore commissioned to determine precisely the mass of one liter of water. In spite of the fact that the decreed definition of the gram specified water at 0 °C—a highly reproducible temperature—the scientists chose to redefine the standard and to perform their measurements at the temperature of highest water density, which was measured at the time as 4 °C (39 °F).[46]

The Kelvin temperature scale of the SI system is based on the triple point of water, defined as exactly 273.16 K or 0.01 °C. The scale is an absolute temperature scale with the same increment as the Celsius temperature scale, which was originally defined according to the boiling point (set to 100 °C) and melting point (set to 0 °C) of water.

Natural water consists mainly of the isotopes hydrogen-1 and oxygen-16, but there is also a small quantity of heavier isotopes such as hydrogen-2 (deuterium). The amount of deuterium oxides or heavy water is very small, but it still affects the properties of water. Water from rivers and lakes tends to contain less deuterium than seawater. Therefore, standard water is defined in the Vienna Standard Mean Ocean Water specification.

For drinking

Main article: Drinking water

The human body contains from 55% to 78% water, depending on body size.[47] To function properly, the body requires between one and seven liters of water per day to avoid dehydration; the precise amount depends on the level of activity, temperature, humidity, and other factors. Most of this is ingested through foods or beverages other than drinking straight water. It is not clear how much water intake is needed by healthy people, though most specialists agree that approximately 2 liters (6 to 7 glasses) of water daily is the minimum to maintain proper hydration.[48] Medical literature favors a lower consumption, typically 1 liter of water for an average male, excluding extra requirements due to fluid loss from exercise or warm weather.[49]

For those who have healthy kidneys, it is rather difficult to drink too much water, but (especially in warm humid weather and while exercising) it is dangerous to drink too little. People can drink far more water than necessary while exercising, however, putting them at risk of water intoxication (hyperhydration), which can be fatal.[50][51] The popular claim that "a person should consume eight glasses of water per day" seems to have no real basis in science.[52] Studies have shown that extra water intake, especially up to 500 ml at mealtime was conducive to weight loss.[53][54][55][56][57][58] Adequate fluid intake is helpful in preventing constipation.[59]

An original recommendation for water intake in 1945 by the Food and Nutrition Board of the United States National Research Council read: "An ordinary standard for diverse persons is 1 milliliter for each calorie of food. Most of this quantity is contained in prepared foods."[60] The latest dietary reference intake report by the United States National Research Council in general recommended, based on the median total water intake from US survey data (including food sources): 3.7 liters for men and 2.7 liters of water total for women, noting that water contained in food provided approximately 19% of total water intake in the survey.[61]

Specifically, pregnant and breastfeeding women need additional fluids to stay hydrated. The Institute of Medicine (US) recommends that, on average, men consume 3.0 liters and women 2.2 liters; pregnant women should increase intake to 2.4 liters (10 cups) and breastfeeding women should get 3 liters (12 cups), since an especially large amount of fluid is lost during nursing.[62] Also noted is that normally, about 20% of water intake comes from food, while the rest comes from drinking water and beverages (caffeinated included). Water is excreted from the body in multiple forms; through urine and feces, through sweating, and by exhalation of water vapor in the breath. With physical exertion and heat exposure, water loss will increase and daily fluid needs may increase as well.

Humans require water with few impurities. Common impurities include metal salts and oxides, including copper, iron, calcium and lead,[63] and/or harmful bacteria, such as Vibrio. Some solutes are acceptable and even desirable for taste enhancement and to provide needed electrolytes.[64]

The single largest (by volume) freshwater resource suitable for drinking is Lake Baikal in Siberia.[65]

Washing

The propensity of water to form solutions and emulsions is useful in various washing processes. Washing is also an important component of several aspects of personal body hygiene. Most of personal water use is due to showering, doing the laundry and dishwashing, reaching hundreds of liters per day in developed countries.

Transportation

Main article: Ship transport

The use of water for transportation of materials through rivers and canals as well as the international shipping lanes is an important part of the world economy.

Chemical uses

Water is widely used in chemical reactions as a solvent or reactant and less commonly as a solute or catalyst. In inorganic reactions, water is a common solvent, dissolving many ionic compounds, as well as other polar compounds such as ammonia and compounds closely related to water. In organic reactions, it is not usually used as a reaction solvent, because it does not dissolve the reactants well and is amphoteric (acidic and basic) and nucleophilic. Nevertheless, these properties are sometimes desirable. Also, acceleration of Diels-Alder reactions by water has been observed. Supercritical water has recently been a topic of research. Oxygen-saturated supercritical water combusts organic pollutants efficiently. Water vapor is used for some processes in the chemical industry. An example is the production of acrylic acid from acrolein, propylene and propane[66][67][68][69]. The possible effect of water in these reactions includes the physical-, chemical interaction of water with the catalyst and the chemical reaction of water with the reaction intermediates.

Heat exchange

Water and steam are a common fluid used for heat exchange, due to its availability and high heat capacity, both for cooling and heating. Cool water may even be naturally available from a lake or the sea. It's especially effective to transport heat through vaporization and condensation of water because of its large latent heat of vaporization. A disadvantage is that metals commonly found in industries such as steel and copper are oxidized faster by untreated water and steam. In almost all thermal power stations, water is used as the working fluid (used in a closed loop between boiler, steam turbine and condenser), and the coolant (used to exchange the waste heat to a water body or carry it away by evaporation in a cooling tower). In the United States, cooling power plants is the largest use of water.[39]

In the nuclear power industry, water can also be used as a neutron moderator. In most nuclear reactors, water is both a coolant and a moderator. This provides something of a passive safety measure, as removing the water from the reactor also slows the nuclear reaction down. However other methods are favored for stopping a reaction and it is preferred to keep the nuclear core covered with water so as to ensure adequate cooling.

Fire extinction

Water has a high heat of vaporization and is relatively inert, which makes it a good fire extinguishing fluid. The evaporation of water carries heat away from the fire. It is dangerous to use water on fires involving oils and organic solvents, because many organic materials float on water and the water tends to spread the burning liquid.

Use of water in fire fighting should also take into account the hazards of a steam explosion, which may occur when water is used on very hot fires in confined spaces, and of a hydrogen explosion, when substances which react with water, such as certain metals or hot carbon such as coal, charcoal, or coke graphite, decompose the water, producing water gas.

The power of such explosions was seen in the Chernobyl disaster, although the water involved did not come from fire-fighting at that time but the reactor's own water cooling system. A steam explosion occurred when the extreme overheating of the core caused water to flash into steam. A hydrogen explosion may have occurred as a result of reaction between steam and hot zirconium.

Recreation

Main article: Water sport (recreation)

Humans use water for many recreational purposes, as well as for exercising and for sports. Some of these include swimming, waterskiing, boating, surfing and diving. In addition, some sports, like ice hockey and ice skating, are played on ice. Lakesides, beaches and water parks are popular places for people to go to relax and enjoy recreation. Many find the sound and appearance of flowing water to be calming, and fountains and other water features are popular decorations. Some keep fish and other life in aquariums or ponds for show, fun, and companionship. Humans also use water for snow sports i.e. skiing, sledding, snowmobiling or snowboarding, which require the water to be frozen.

Water in two states: liquid (including the clouds, which are examples of aerosols), and solid (ice).
Liquid water, showing droplets and air bubbles caused by the drops
Impact from a water drop causes an upward "rebound" jet surrounded by circular capillary waves.
Water covers 71% of the Earth's surface; the oceans contain 96.5% of the Earth's water. The Antarctic ice sheet, which contains 61% of all fresh water on Earth, is visible at the bottom. Condensed atmospheric water can be seen as clouds, contributing to the Earth's albedo.
Overview of photosynthesis and respiration. Water (at right), together with carbon dioxide (CO2), form oxygen and organic compounds (at left), which can be respired to water and (CO2).
Water availability: fraction of population using improved water sources by country

Water resources are sources of water that are potentially useful. Uses of water include agricultural, industrial, household, recreational and environmental activities. All living things require water to grow and reproduce.

97% of the water on the Earth is salt water and only three percent is fresh water; slightly over two thirds of this is frozen in glaciers and polarice caps.[1] The remaining unfrozen freshwater is found mainly as groundwater, with only a small fraction present above ground or in the air.[2]

Fresh water is a renewable resource, yet the world's supply of groundwater is steadily decreasing, with depletion occurring most prominently in Asia, South America and North America, although it is still unclear how much natural renewal balances this usage, and whether ecosystems are threatened.[3] The framework for allocating water resources to water users (where such a framework exists) is known as water rights.

Sources of fresh water[edit]

Surface water[edit]

Main article: Surface water

Surface water is water in a river, lake or fresh water wetland. Surface water is naturally replenished by precipitation and naturally lost through discharge to the oceans, evaporation, evapotranspiration and groundwater recharge.

Although the only natural input to any surface water system is precipitation within its watershed, the total quantity of water in that system at any given time is also dependent on many other factors. These factors include storage capacity in lakes, wetlands and artificial reservoirs, the permeability of the soil beneath these storage bodies, the runoff characteristics of the land in the watershed, the timing of the precipitation and local evaporation rates. All of these factors also affect the proportions of water loss.

Human activities can have a large and sometimes devastating impact on these factors. Humans often increase storage capacity by constructing reservoirs and decrease it by draining wetlands. Humans often increase runoff quantities and velocities by paving areas and channelizing the stream flow.

The total quantity of water available at any given time is an important consideration. Some human water users have an intermittent need for water. For example, many farms require large quantities of water in the spring, and no water at all in the winter. To supply such a farm with water, a surface water system may require a large storage capacity to collect water throughout the year and release it in a short period of time. Other users have a continuous need for water, such as a power plant that requires water for cooling. To supply such a power plant with water, a surface water system only needs enough storage capacity to fill in when average stream flow is below the power plant's need.

Nevertheless, over the long term the average rate of precipitation within a watershed is the upper bound for average consumption of natural surface water from that watershed.

Natural surface water can be augmented by importing surface water from another watershed through a canal or pipeline. It can also be artificially augmented from any of the other sources listed here, however in practice the quantities are negligible. Humans can also cause surface water to be "lost" (i.e. become unusable) through pollution.

Brazil is the country estimated to have the largest supply of fresh water in the world, followed by Russia and Canada.[4]

Under river flow[edit]

Throughout the course of a river, the total volume of water transported downstream will often be a combination of the visible free water flow together with a substantial contribution flowing through rocks and sediments that underlie the river and its floodplain called the hyporheic zone. For many rivers in large valleys, this unseen component of flow may greatly exceed the visible flow. The hyporheic zone often forms a dynamic interface between surface water and groundwater from aquifers, exchanging flow between rivers and aquifers that may be fully charged or depleted. This is especially significant in karst areas where pot-holes and underground rivers are common.

Groundwater[edit]

Main article: Groundwater

Groundwater is fresh water located in the subsurface pore space of soil and rocks. It is also water that is flowing within aquifers below the water table. Sometimes it is useful to make a distinction between groundwater that is closely associated with surface water and deep groundwater in an aquifer (sometimes called "fossil water").

Groundwater can be thought of in the same terms as surface water: inputs, outputs and storage. The critical difference is that due to its slow rate of turnover, groundwater storage is generally much larger (in volume) compared to inputs than it is for surface water. This difference makes it easy for humans to use groundwater unsustainably for a long time without severe consequences. Nevertheless, over the long term the average rate of seepage above a groundwater source is the upper bound for average consumption of water from that source.

The natural input to groundwater is seepage from surface water. The natural outputs from groundwater are springs and seepage to the oceans.

If the surface water source is also subject to substantial evaporation, a groundwater source may become saline. This situation can occur naturally under endorheic bodies of water, or artificially under irrigated farmland. In coastal areas, human use of a groundwater source may cause the direction of seepage to ocean to reverse which can also cause soil salinization. Humans can also cause groundwater to be "lost" (i.e. become unusable) through pollution. Humans can increase the input to a groundwater source by building reservoirs or detention ponds.

Frozen water[edit]

Several schemes have been proposed to make use of icebergs as a water source, however to date this has only been done for research purposes. Glacier runoff is considered to be surface water.

The Himalayas, which are often called "The Roof of the World", contain some of the most extensive and rough high altitude areas on Earth as well as the greatest area of glaciers and permafrost outside of the poles. Ten of Asia’s largest rivers flow from there, and more than a billion people’s livelihoods depend on them. To complicate matters, temperatures there are rising more rapidly than the global average. In Nepal, the temperature has risen by 0.6 degrees Celsius over the last decade, whereas globally, the Earth has warmed approximately 0.7 degrees Celsius over the last hundred years.[5]

Desalination[edit]

Main article: Desalination

Desalination is an artificial process by which saline water (generally sea water) is converted to fresh water. The most common desalination processes are distillation and reverse osmosis. Desalination is currently expensive compared to most alternative sources of water, and only a very small fraction of total human use is satisfied by desalination. It is usually only economically practical for high-valued uses (such as household and industrial uses) in arid areas. However, there is growth in desalination for agricultural use, and highly populated areas such as Singapore or California.[citation needed] The most extensive use is in the Persian Gulf.

Water uses[edit]

Agricultural[edit]

It is estimated that 70% of worldwide water is used for irrigation, with 15-35% of irrigation withdrawals being unsustainable.[6] It takes around 2,000 - 3,000 litres of water to produce enough food to satisfy one person's daily dietary need.[7] This is a considerable amount, when compared to that required for drinking, which is between two and five litres. To produce food for the now over 7 billion people who inhabit the planet today requires the water that would fill a canal ten metres deep, 100 metres wide and 2100 kilometres long.

Increasing water scarcity[edit]

Main article: Water scarcity

See also: Water scarcity in Africa

Around fifty years ago, the common perception was that water was an infinite resource. At that time, there were fewer than half the current number of people on the planet. People were not as wealthy as today, consumed fewer calories and ate less meat, so less water was needed to produce their food. They required a third of the volume of water we presently take from rivers. Today, the competition for water resources is much more intense. This is because there are now seven billion people on the planet, their consumption of water-thirsty meat and vegetables is rising, and there is increasing competition for water from industry, urbanisation biofuel crops, and water reliant food items. In the future, even more water will be needed to produce food because the Earth's population is forecast to rise to 9 billion by 2050.[8] An additional 2.5 or 3 billion people, choosing to eat fewer cereals and more meat and vegetables could add an additional five million kilometres to the virtual canal mentioned above.

An assessment of water management in agriculture sector was conducted in 2007 by the International Water Management Institute in Sri Lanka to see if the world had sufficient water to provide food for its growing population.[9] It assessed the current availability of water for agriculture on a global scale and mapped out locations suffering from water scarcity. It found that a fifth of the world's people, more than 1.2 billion, live in areas of physical water scarcity, where there is not enough water to meet all demands. One third of the world's population does not have access to clean drinking water, which is more than 2.3 billion people. A further 1.6 billion people live in areas experiencing economic water scarcity, where the lack of investment in water or insufficient human capacity make it impossible for authorities to satisfy the demand for water. The report found that it would be possible to produce the food required in future, but that continuation of today's food production and environmental trends would lead to crises in many parts of the world. To avoid a global water crisis, farmers will have to strive to increase productivity to meet growing demands for food, while industry and cities find ways to use water more efficiently.[10]

In some areas of the world, irrigation is necessary to grow any crop at all, in other areas it permits more profitable crops to be grown or enhances crop yield. Various irrigation methods involve different trade-offs between crop yield, water consumption and capital cost of equipment and structures. Irrigation methods such as furrow and overhead sprinkler irrigation are usually less expensive but are also typically less efficient, because much of the water evaporates, runs off or drains below the root zone. Other irrigation methods considered to be more efficient include drip or trickle irrigation, surge irrigation, and some types of sprinkler systems where the sprinklers are operated near ground level. These types of systems, while more expensive, usually offer greater potential to minimize runoff, drainage and evaporation. Any system that is improperly managed can be wasteful, all methods have the potential for high efficiencies under suitable conditions, appropriate irrigation timing and management. Some issues that are often insufficiently considered are salinization of groundwater and contaminant accumulation leading to water quality declines.

As global populations grow, and as demand for food increases in a world with a fixed water supply, there are efforts under way to learn how to produce more food with less water, through improvements in irrigation[11] methods[12] and technologies, agricultural water management, crop types, and water monitoring. Aquaculture is a small but growing agricultural use of water. Freshwater commercial fisheries may also be considered as agricultural uses of water, but have generally been assigned a lower priority than irrigation (see Aral Sea and Pyramid Lake).

Industrial[edit]

It is estimated that 22% of worldwide water is used in industry.[6] Major industrial users include hydroelectric dams, thermoelectric power plants, which use water for cooling, ore and oil refineries, which use water in chemical processes, and manufacturing plants, which use water as a solvent. Water withdrawal can be very high for certain industries, but consumption is generally much lower than that of agriculture.

Water is used in renewable power generation. Hydroelectric power derives energy from the force of water flowing downhill, driving a turbine connected to a generator. This hydroelectricity is a low-cost, non-polluting, renewable energy source. Significantly, hydroelectric power can also be used for load following unlike most renewable energy sources which are intermittent. Ultimately, the energy in a hydroelectric powerplant is supplied by the sun. Heat from the sun evaporates water, which condenses as rain in higher altitudes and flows downhill. Pumped-storage hydroelectric plants also exist, which use grid electricity to pump water uphill when demand is low, and use the stored water to produce electricity when demand is high.

Hydroelectric power plants generally require the creation of a large artificial lake. Evaporation from this lake is higher than evaporation from a river due to the larger surface area exposed to the elements, resulting in much higher water consumption. The process of driving water through the turbine and tunnels or pipes also briefly removes this water from the natural environment, creating water withdrawal. The impact of this withdrawal on wildlife varies greatly depending on the design of the powerplant.

Pressurized water is used in water blasting and water jet cutters. Also, very high pressure water guns are used for precise cutting. It works very well, is relatively safe, and is not harmful to the environment. It is also used in the cooling of machinery to prevent overheating, or prevent saw blades from overheating. This is generally a very small source of water consumption relative to other uses.

Water is also used in many large scale industrial processes, such as thermoelectric power production, oil refining, fertilizer production and other chemical plant use, and natural gas extraction from shale rock. Discharge of untreated water from industrial uses is pollution. Pollution includes discharged solutes (chemical pollution) and increased water temperature (thermal pollution). Industry requires pure water for many applications and utilizes a variety of purification techniques both in water supply and discharge. Most of this pure water is generated on site, either from natural freshwater or from municipal grey water. Industrial consumption of water is generally much lower than withdrawal, due to laws requiring industrial grey water to be treated and returned to the environment. Thermoelectric powerplants using cooling towers have high consumption, nearly equal to their withdrawal, as most of the withdrawn water is evaporated as part of the cooling process. The withdrawal, however, is lower than in once-through cooling systems.

Domestic[edit]

It is estimated that 8% of worldwide water use is for domestic purposes.[6] These include drinking water, bathing, cooking, toilet flushing, cleaning, laundry and gardening. Basic domestic water requirements have been estimated by Peter Gleick at around 50 liters per person per day, excluding water for gardens. Drinking water is water that is of sufficiently high quality so that it can be consumed or used without risk of immediate or long term harm. Such water is commonly called potable water. In most developed countries, the water supplied to domestic, commerce and industry is all of drinking water standard even though only a very small proportion is actually consumed or used in food preparation.

Recreation[edit]

Sustainable management of water resources (including provision of safe and reliable supplies for drinking water and irrigation, adequate sanitation, protection of aquatic ecosystems, and flood protection) poses enormous challenges in many parts of the world.

Recreational water use is usually a very small but growing percentage of total water use. Recreational water use is mostly tied to reservoirs. If a reservoir is kept fuller than it would otherwise be for recreation, then the water retained could be categorized as recreational usage. Release of water from a few reservoirs is also timed to enhance whitewater boating, which also could be considered a recreational usage. Other examples are anglers, water skiers, nature enthusiasts and swimmers.

Recreational usage is usually non-consumptive. Golf courses are often targeted as using excessive amounts of water, especially in drier regions. It is, however, unclear whether recreational irrigation (which would include private gardens) has a noticeable effect on water resources. This is largely due to the unavailability of reliable data. Additionally, many golf courses utilize either primarily or exclusively treated effluent water, which has little impact on potable water availability.

Some governments, including the Californian Government, have labelled golf course usage as agricultural in order to deflect environmentalists' charges of wasting water. However, using the above figures as a basis, the actual statistical effect of this reassignment is close to zero. In Arizona, an organized lobby has been established in the form of the Golf Industry Association, a group focused on educating the public on how golf impacts the environment.

Recreational usage may reduce the availability of water for other users at specific times and places. For example, water retained in a reservoir to allow boating in the late summer is not available to farmers during the spring planting season. Water released for whitewater rafting may not be available for hydroelectric generation during the time of peak electrical demand.

Environmental[edit]

Explicit environment water use is also a very small but growing percentage of total water use. Environmental water may include water stored in impoundments and released for environmental purposes (held environmental water), but more often is water retained in waterways through regulatory limits of abstraction.[13] Environmental water usage includes watering of natural or artificial wetlands, artificial lakes intended to create wildlife habitat, fish ladders, and water releases from reservoirs timed to help fish spawn, or to restore more natural flow regimes[14]

Like recreational usage, environmental usage is non-consumptive but may reduce the availability of water for other users at specific times and places. For example, water release from a reservoir to help fish spawn may not be available to farms upstream, and water retained in a river to maintain waterway health would not be available to water abstractors downstream.

Water stress[edit]

Main articles: Water crisis and Water stress

The concept of water stress is relatively simple: According to the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, it applies to situations where there is not enough water for all uses, whether agricultural, industrial or domestic. Defining thresholds for stress in terms of available water per capita is more complex, however, entailing assumptions about water use and its efficiency. Nevertheless, it has been proposed that when annual per capita renewable freshwater availability is less than 1,700 cubic meters, countries begin to experience periodic or regular water stress. Below 1,000 cubic meters, water scarcity begins to hamper economic development and human health and well-being.

Population growth[edit]

In 2000, the world population was 6.2 billion. The UN estimates that by 2050 there will be an additional 3.5 billion people with most of the growth in developing countries that already suffer water stress.[15] Thus, water demand will increase unless there are corresponding increases in water conservation and recycling of this vital resource.[16] In building on the data presented here by the UN, the World Bank[17] goes on to explain that access to water for producing food will be one of the main challenges in the decades to come. Access to water will need to be balanced with the importance of managing water itself in a sustainable way while taking into account the impact of climate change, and other environmental and social variables.[18]

Expansion of business activity[edit]

Business activity ranging from industrialization to services such as tourism and entertainment continues to expand rapidly. This expansion requires increased water services including both supply and sanitation, which can lead to more pressure on water resources and natural ecosystem.

Rapid urbanization[edit]

The trend towards urbanization is accelerating. Small private wells and septic tanks that work well in low-density communities are not feasible within high-density urban areas. Urbanization requires significant investment in water infrastructure in order to deliver water to individuals and to process the concentrations of wastewater – both from individuals and from business. These polluted and contaminated waters must be treated or they pose unacceptable public health risks.

In 60% of European cities with more than 100,000 people, groundwater is being used at a faster rate than it can be replenished.[19] Even if some water remains available, it costs increasingly more to capture it.

Climate change[edit]

Climate change could have significant impacts on water resources around the world because of the close connections between the climate and hydrological cycle. Rising temperatures will increase evaporation and lead to increases in precipitation, though there will be regional variations in rainfall. Both droughts and floods may become more frequent in different regions at different times, and dramatic changes in snowfall and snow melt are expected in mountainous areas. Higher temperatures will also affect water quality in ways that are not well understood. Possible impacts include increased eutrophication. Climate change could also mean an increase in demand for farm irrigation, garden sprinklers, and perhaps even swimming pools. There is now ample evidence that increased hydrologic variability and change in climate has and will continue have a profound impact on the water sector through the hydrologic cycle, water availability, water demand, and water allocation at the global, regional, basin, and local levels.[20]

Depletion of aquifers[edit]

Due to the expanding human population, competition for water is growing such that many of the world's major aquifers are becoming depleted. This is due both for direct human consumption as well as agricultural irrigation by groundwater. Millions of pumps of all sizes are currently extracting groundwater throughout the world. Irrigation in dry areas such as northern China, Nepal and India is supplied by groundwater, and is being extracted at an unsustainable rate. Cities that have experienced aquifer drops between 10 and 50 meters include Mexico City, Bangkok, Beijing, Madras and Shanghai.[21]

Pollution and water protection[edit]

Main article: Water pollution

Water pollution is one of the main concerns of the world today. The governments of numerous countries have striven to find solutions to reduce this problem. Many pollutants threaten water supplies, but the most widespread, especially in developing countries, is the discharge of raw sewage into natural waters; this method of sewage disposal is the most common method in underdeveloped countries, but also is prevalent in quasi-developed countries such as China, India, Nepal and Iran. Sewage, sludge, garbage, and even toxic pollutants are all dumped into the water. Even if sewage is treated, problems still arise. Treated sewage forms sludge, which may be placed in landfills, spread out on land, incinerated or dumped at sea.[22] In addition to sewage, nonpoint source pollution such as agricultural runoff is a significant source of pollution in some parts of the world, along with urban stormwater runoff and chemical wastes dumped by industries and governments.

Water and conflicts[edit]

Main article: Water conflict

Competition for water has widely increased, and it has become more difficult to conciliate the necessities for water supply for human consumption, food production, ecosystems and other uses. Water administration is frequently involved in contradictory and complex problems.[23] Approximately 10% of the worldwide annual runoff is used for human necessities. Several areas of the world are flooded, while others have such low precipitations that human life is almost impossible. As population and development increase, raising water demand, the possibility of problems inside a certain country or region increases, as it happens with others outside the region.[24]

Over the past 25 years, politicians, academics and journalists have frequently predicted that disputes over water would be a source of future wars. Commonly cited quotes include: that of former Egyptian Foreign Minister and former Secretary-General of the United Nations Boutrous Ghali, who forecast, “The next war in the Middle East will be fought over water, not politics”; his successor at the UN, Kofi Annan, who in 2001 said, “Fierce competition for fresh water may well become a source of conflict and wars in the future,” and the former Vice President of the World Bank, Ismail Serageldin, who said the wars of the next century will be over water unless significant changes in governance occurred. The water wars hypothesis had its roots in earlier research carried out on a small number of transboundary rivers such as the Indus, Jordan and Nile. These particular rivers became the focus because they had experienced water-related disputes. Specific events cited as evidence include Israel’s bombing of Syria’s attempts to divert the Jordan’s headwaters, and military threats by Egypt against any country building dams in the upstream waters of the Nile. However, while some links made between conflict and water were valid, they did not necessarily represent the norm.

The only known example of an actual inter-state conflict over water took place between 2500 and 2350 BC between the Sumerian states of Lagash and Umma.[25] Water stress has most often led to conflicts at local and regional levels.[26] Tensions arise most often within national borders, in the downstream areas of distressed river basins. Areas such as the lower regions of China's Yellow River or the Chao Phraya River in Thailand, for example, have already been experiencing water stress for several years. Water stress can also exacerbate conflicts and political tensions which are not directly caused by water. Gradual reductions over time in the quality and/or quantity of fresh water can add to the instability of a region by depleting the health of a population, obstructing economic development, and exacerbating larger conflicts.[27]

Shared water resources can promote collaboration[edit]

Water resources that span international boundaries are more likely to be a source of collaboration and cooperation than war. Scientists working at the International Water Management Institute have been investigating the evidence behind water war predictions. Their findings show that, while it is true there has been conflict related to water in a handful of international basins, in the rest of the world’s approximately 300 shared basins the record has been largely positive. This is exemplified by the hundreds of treaties in place guiding equitable water use between nations sharing water resources. The institutions created by these agreements can, in fact, be one of the most important factors in ensuring cooperation rather than conflict.[28]

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) published the book Share: Managing water across boundaries. One chapter covers the functions of trans-boundary institutions and how they can be designed to promote cooperation, overcome initial disputes and find ways of coping with the uncertainty created by climate change. It also covers how the effectiveness of such institutions can be monitored.[29]

Water shortages[edit]

Main articles: Drinking water and Water security

In 2025, water shortages will be more prevalent among poorer countries where resources are limited and population growth is rapid, such as the Middle East, Africa, and parts of Asia.[citation needed] By 2025, large urban and peri-urban areas will require new infrastructure to provide safe water and adequate sanitation. This suggests growing conflicts with agricultural water users, who currently consume the majority of the water used by humans.[citation needed]

Generally speaking the more developed countries of North America, Europe and Russia will not see a serious threat to water supply by the year 2025, not only because of their relative wealth, but more importantly their populations will be better aligned with available water resources.[citation needed] North Africa, the Middle East, South Africa and northern China will face very severe water shortages due to physical scarcity and a condition of overpopulation relative to their carrying capacity with respect to water supply.[citation needed] Most of South America, Sub-Saharan Africa, Southern China and India will face water supply shortages by 2025; for these latter regions the causes of scarcity will be economic constraints to developing safe drinking water, as well as excessive population growth.[citation needed]

[edit]

Water supply and sanitation require a huge amount of capital investment in infrastructure such as pipe networks, pumping stations and water treatment works. It is estimated that Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) nations need to invest at least USD 200 billion per year to replace aging water infrastructure to guarantee supply, reduce leakage rates and protect water quality.[30]

International attention has focused upon the needs of the developing countries. To meet the Millennium Development Goals targets of halving the proportion of the population lacking access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation by 2015, current annual investment on the order of USD 10 to USD 15 billion would need to be roughly doubled. This does not include investments required for the maintenance of existing infrastructure.[31]

Once infrastructure is in place, operating water supply and sanitation systems entails significant ongoing costs to cover personnel, energy, chemicals, maintenance and other expenses. The sources of money to meet these capital and operational costs are essentially either user fees, public funds or some combination of the two.[32] An increasing dimension to consider is the flexibility of the water supply system.[33][34]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^"Earth's water distribution". United States Geological Survey. Retrieved 2009-05-13. 
  2. ^"Scientific Facts on Water: State of the Resource". GreenFacts Website. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  3. ^Gleeson, Tom; Wada, Yoshihide; Bierkens, Marc F. P.; van Beek, Ludovicus P. H. (9 August 2012). "Water balance of global aquifers revealed by groundwater footprint". Nature. 488 (7410): 197–200. doi:10.1038/nature11295. PMID 22874965. Retrieved 2013-05-29. 
  4. ^"The World's Water 2006-2007 Tables, Pacific Institute". Worldwater.org. Retrieved 2009-03-12. 
  5. ^Pulitzer Center on Crisis ReportingArchived July 23, 2009, at the Wayback Machine.
  6. ^ abc"WBCSD Water Facts & Trends". Retrieved 2009-03-12. 
  7. ^UN Water - Coping with Water Scarcity 2007
  8. ^United Nations Press Release POP/952, 13 March 2007. World population will increase by 2.5 billion by 2050
  9. ^Molden, D. (Ed). Water for food, Water for life: A Comprehensive Assessment of Water Management in Agriculture. Earthscan/IWMI, 2007.
  10. ^Chartres, C. and Varma, S. Out of water. From Abundance to Scarcity and How to Solve the World’s Water Problems FT Press (USA), 2010
  11. ^"Water Development and Management Unit - Topics - Irrigation". FAO. Retrieved 2009-03-12. 
  12. ^"FAO Water Unit | Water News: water scarcity". Fao.org. Retrieved 2009-03-12. 
  13. ^National Water Commission (2010). Australian environmental water management report. NWC, Canberra
  14. ^"Aral Sea trickles back to life". Silk Road Intelligencer. Retrieved 2011-12-05. 
  15. ^"World population to reach 9.1 billion in 2050, UN projects". Un.org. 2005-02-24. Retrieved 2009-03-12. 
  16. ^"Groundwater – the processes and global significance of aquifer degradation". Google.com. 2003-12-29. doi:10.1098/rstb.2003.1380. Retrieved 2009-03-12. 
  17. ^http://water.worldbank.org/water/
  18. ^The World Bank, 2010 "Sustaining water for all in a changing climate: World Bank Group Implementation Progress Report". Retrieved 2011-10-24. 
  19. ^"Europe's Environment: The Dobris Assessment". Reports.eea.europa.eu. 1995-05-20. Retrieved 2009-03-12. 
  20. ^The World Bank, 2009 "Water and Climate Change: Understanding the Risks and Making Climate-Smart Investment Decisions". Retrieved 2011-10-24. 
  21. ^"Groundwater in Urban Development". Wds.worldbank.org. Retrieved 2009-03-12. 
  22. ^Ocean dumping of sewage sludge is prohibited in the United States by the Marine Protection, Research, and Sanctuaries Act (MPRSA).
  23. ^Zwarteveen, M. y R. Boelens. 2009. Investigación interdisciplinaria sobre justicia hídrica: unas aproximaciones conceptuales. Primera Conferencia de Justicia Hídrica. Cusco, 22-26 noviembre 2009.
  24. ^Masters, G.M. y W.P. Ela. 2008. Introducción a la ingeniería mediambiental. Tercera Edición. Pearson. Prentice Hall. España. 737 pp.
  25. ^Rasler, Karen A.; Thompson, W. R. (2006). "Contested Territory, Strategic Rivalries, and Conflict Escalation". International Studies Quarterly. 50 (1): 145–168. doi:10.1111/j.1468-2478.2006.00396.x. 
  26. ^Wolf, Aaron T (2001). "Water and Human Security". Journal of Contemporary Water Research and Education. 118: 29. 
  27. ^Postel, S. L.; Wolf, A. T. (2001). "Dehydrating Conflict". Foreign Policy. 126: 60–67. 
  28. ^Promoting cooperation through management of trans-boundary water resources, Success Stories, Issue 8, 2010, IWMI
  29. ^http://data.iucn.org/dbtw-wpd/edocs/2008-016.pdfShare: managing Water across Boundaries. Edited by Sadoff et al, 2008, IUCN
  30. ^"The cost of meeting the Johannesburg targets for drinking water". Water-academy.org. 2004-06-22. Retrieved 2009-03-12. 
  31. ^"Financing Water for All"(PDF). Retrieved 2011-12-05. 
  32. ^. 2002 https://books.google.cl/books?hl=en&lr=&id=mwR49PpJMDUC&oi=fnd&pg=PA91&dq=user+fees,+public+funds+water+supply&ots=SWiW3jXC_-&sig=aK0W-mms-8Jh98227vdAz588yc8#v=onepage&q&f=false. 
  33. ^"Flexible strategies for long-term sustainability under uncertainty". Building Research. 40: 545–557. 2012. doi:10.1080/09613218.2012.702565. 
  34. ^Zhang, S.X.; V. Babovic (2012). "A real options approach to the design and architecture of water supply systems using innovative water technologies under uncertainty"(PDF). Journal of Hydroinformatics. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Pearce, FredWhen the Rivers Run Dry: Water—The Defining Crisis of the Twenty-First Century Beacon Press, 2006, ISBN 0-8070-8572-3ISBN 978-0-8070-8572-1
  • Sustaining Water for All in a Changing Climate The International Bank for Reconstruction and Development-The World Bank, 2010.
  • The World Bank on private water operations in rural communities The World Bank, 2010.
  • The World Bank on public-private water mechanisms for urban utilities The World Bank, 2009, ISBN 978-0-8213-7956-1.
  • Vazken Andréassian and Jean Margat, Rivers and Rivals. Quae publishing, Versailles, 2012, ISBN 978-2-7592-1706-9.

External links[edit]

A graphical distribution of the locations of water on Earth. Only 3% of the Earth's water is fresh water. Most of it is in icecaps and glaciers (69%) and groundwater (30%), while all lakes, rivers and swamps combined only account for a small fraction (0.3%) of the Earth's total freshwater reserves.
Relative groundwater travel times in the subsurface
Estimate of the share of people in developing countries with access to drinking water 1970–2000

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