Hey kids! Where does water come from? If asked, could you explain where the water from your faucet, hose, shower, etc. comes from? Well you are in luck because we are going to share this amazing secret with you!
Let’s start with the water cycle. Water leaves the ocean, streams, rivers, lakes, etc. when the sun warms the surface of the water. The warmth of the sun causes the water to evaporate and become a gas as water vapor. The water vapor then rises into the atmosphere and forms clouds as it cools and condenses. The clouds can only handle so much condensation, so when the clouds become so full of water vapor that they cannot hold any more, they must release all that water. The water falls as liquid or solid precipitation as rain, ice, snow or other forms. The water will then do one of the following things: fall onto or runs into surface water such as rivers, streams, lakes, ponds, or oceans; infiltrate into groundwater; be absorbed by plants; or evaporate. Plants not only absorb water, but they also release water vapor into the atmosphere through transpiration, the process of water vapor evaporating from the leaves.
Have you ever thought about where YOUR drinking water comes from? We often just turn the faucet and don’t even give it a second thought as the water pours out. All living things need freshwater to survive and that is one of our most important non-renewable resources we have here on this planet. Let’s look at all the water we have in our world and see how much freshwater we have to use as drinking water.
Now let’s separate the salt water in the oceans from the freshwater on the Earth.
Now that we have separated those two, let’s talk about where we have freshwater on this planet. It is found in surface water like ponds, lakes, rivers and streams, as well as in the atmosphere, underground, and in animals and plants. There is also freshwater that is inaccessible to us because it is frozen in glaciers and ice caps.
The freshwater represented in the container on the right in the above picture represents our drinking water source. However, not all of that water is available to us for human consumption. If we separate groundwater and atmospheric water (0.76%) from what is the Earth’s surface, we are only left with a teaspoon (0.72%).
We can tap into some of the water represented in the container on the left for our drinking water such as the fresh groundwater, but the rest of it is inaccessible. The water in the teaspoon represents the available surface water we have at our disposal to use as drinking water.
Even though there may seem to be a lot of water on Earth, only a little of that is freshwater that can be used for drinking water. It’s really important that we take care of that water! But how? Here are a few things YOU can do to help protect this precious resource:
– Take shorter showers. The average shower uses 7 gallons per minute. Have a competition with your family to see who can take the shortest shower. The winner gets to choose dinner one night that week!
– Don’t let the faucet run continuously when you brush your teeth. Only turn it on when needed to get your toothbrush wet before and to rinse if off afterwards. Or, fill up a cup before you brush your teeth and only use that water. Wonder how much water you use when you let the faucet run continuously? Find out in the quiz at the end of this post!
– Use a reusable water bottle like a stainless steel or a Nalgene instead of drinking bottled water. Tap water composition is more closely regulated by the government than bottled water and it costs less to drink your tap water. Also, the bottles are made from plastic that contain unhealthy chemicals and have been linked to various health problems.
– Get involved! Volunteering in your community is a great way to give back to the environment. This past weekend at the Red Clay Valley Clean Up, over 700 volunteers (myself included!) dedicated their Saturday morning to picking up trash along approximately 44 miles of roadways and streams in the Red Clay Creek Watershed. Interested in getting involved? The Christina River Watershed Clean Up is coming up on April 6th from 8am-12pm. Delaware Nature Society sites Cooch-Dayett Mill and the Dupont Environmental Education Center are located in close proximity to the Christina River and will be participating in the clean up. If you’d like more information or are interested in volunteering check out this link: http://www.delawareestuary.org/cleanup. Also, the Young Friends of the Brandywine Conservancy will be hosting the Annual Brandywine River Clean Up later this month on April 20th from 9am-1pm. If you’d like more information or are interested in volunteering to clean up the banks of the Brandywine, please contact Kathy Freney Smith at 610-388-8315 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Now I have a challenge for you: find out where your drinking water comes from! Ask your parents and do some investigating to find out where your water comes from. In Delaware, many public utility or private companies draw their water from groundwater or surface water. Groundwater is extracted from aquifers, areas underground that hold water. For example, Artesian Water Company provide Delawareans with groundwater as their drinking water supply. Other companies such as United Water draws drinking water for their customers from the White Clay and Red Clay Creeks. These companies treat the water from the time it is extracted from the creeks to the time that it flows out of your faucet, but it’s important that we take care of the streams and minimize water pollution. You may ask “If the companies treat the water, why should I care about keeping it clean?” Even though the water is treated before it comes out of your faucet, the dirtier the water is the harder it is to clean. It is a lot more work and much more expensive to make the water drinkable if the water is polluted.
We can do something now to save and protect our water resources. Share these tips with your family and friends! Together, we can make a big difference by making small changes in our lives. One of my favorite quotes from Dr. Suess’ The Lorax sums it all up quite nicely: “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”
FUN FACTS: DID YOU KNOW…?
-You will save money drinking your tap water because it only costs $0.0015 per gallon whereas bottled water costs $1.27 per gallon.
– 1.5 million tons of plastic go into manufacturing plastic water bottles.
– Less than 1% of the Earth’s water is potable.
See if you can guess some more fun facts about water, take the quiz below!