The water cycle describes the continuous movement of all the water on Earth. Although the amount of water on Earth remains fairly constant over time, it gets around!
How much of the total amount of water is in oceans, rivers, lakes, reservoirs, ground water, clouds, and icebergs varies constantly, depending on a vast range of climactic variables. Through processes such as evaporation, condensation, precipitation, infiltration, and run off, the water goes through different phases.
In spite of those big oceans, water supply is finite
Although the mass water level is fairly constant on earth, the amount of fresh water available to us is a minor part of the whole. Only 3% of all the water on earth is fresh water and not even all that is considered clean water that is safe for humans. Only 1% of all the water on Earth is acceptable drinking water.
A small shift in the amount of fresh water on Earth can have a profound effect on what is available for human consumption. Climate change, drought, degraded groundwater, other pollution, and overuse are a constant threat to the water supply.
What a lower water supply means
Recent droughts through the United States, most notably in California, have shed light on the importance of water to every living thing on earth. A healthy water supply is essential to sustain life, not just for humans but throughout nature. Everything from oceans, rivers, and lakes to plants, fish and wildlife are dependent on a healthy water supply. A water supply degraded by pollution touches everything on Earth through the process of the water cycle. Drought can lead to sinkholes and massive rains on dried out earth can cause mudslides.
Additionally, a lower and more degraded water supply will mean higher water bills in the future.
Besides not polluting, what can we do?
Water conservation is the single most important thing we can do to preserve the water supply.
Remember, we all can be water conservationists
Conservation is the easiest way to address water shortages now and in the future. The job of being a water conservationist doesn’t belong to scientists and activists – it belongs to all of us! Make it a habit to use a little less every time you use water. A little bit of water saved by everybody leads to a lot. Visit Water Use it Wisely for 100+ tips on how everyone in your family can save water.
Public domain image of water cycle