We have all of the water we will ever have on the planet but it is expected that by 2025 one half of the world population will face water vulnerability and shortage. Drought in the western United States and Australia has crippled the lives of farmers and ranchers, plants and animals are dying. For city dwellers the drought has been little more than a page 3 news article. They turn on the tap, the water comes out to shower and bathe, cook and clean, wash the car, water the lawn, flush the sewage and all the water is gone, down the drain with nary a thought.
You don’t miss your water till the well runs dry.
It is time for every municipality, community and household to learn water management and conserve this precious resource.
Water covers 71 percent of the Earth’s surface, why should we worry? Water is vital for all forms of life. The distribution of potable and irrigation water is scarce and an increasing population will further stress water resources. The percentage of fresh water reduced by pollution and contamination will affect the fundamental ingredient for life on Earth.
In a previous post we reviewed the basics of the hydrologic cycle, how lakes, rivers and streams are replenished, how water is stored on and below the earth’s surface, in the oceans and in the atmosphere.
Did you know that only 2 to 3 percent of the Earth’s water is fresh? Let’s look at a NOAA graph of all the water on the planet.
A drop in the bucket. All of the fresh water in the world is just a drop in the bucket. Utah State University has adapted an activity lesson from ProjectWET that helps visualize the percent of fresh water on the planet. This demonstration is educational for children as well as adults. For supplies you will need to gather a 5 gallon bucket, a clear 1 quart jar, a measuring cup, a teaspoon and an eye dropper. For the demonstration first fill the 5 gallon bucket with water. Following the chart below remove the appropriate amount of water from the bucket and pour into the jar. The quantity in the jar represents the total amount of fresh water on Earth. Are you surprised?
Barbara Boyer a teacher at the American Indian Magnet School in St. Paul, MI designed a different teaching exercise for students based on the ProjectWET Drop in a Bucket activity. For this demonstration you will need a 10″ X 10″ piece of paper with a grid of 1″ squares drawn on it. There will be 100 squares on the paper. With a pair of scissors remove 97 percent of the squares – this represents the oceans. The remaining three squares represent all of the fresh water – but – 80 percent of that is frozen at the poles. With the scissors cut off that 80 percent. Of the “water” that is left 99.5 percent is polluted, too far underground or is trapped in soil moisture. Cut a sliver of .5 percent from your paper. Domestic animals, human consumption, agriculture and manufacturing must all share the small sliver of freshwater.
ProjectWET (Water Education for Teachers) publishes water resource materials; provides training workshops on topics of water sheds, water quality, water conservation; organizes community water events; is building a network of educators, water resource professionals and scientists. The mission of ProjectWET is to reach children, parents, educators and communities of the world with water education.
Water covers 71 percent of the surface of the Earth. Only 2 to 3 percent of Earth’s water is fresh and 80 percent of that is in the ice caps. Water is vital for ALL forms of life. Think about it, then talk about it.
A Hui Hou, Dohn