Posts Tagged 'fresh water'

Saving Water = Saving Money

In an article by Canwest News Service, Canadians are slowly (yet surely) taking up the mentality to save water and energy. According to a study by Statistics Canada pointed out by the article, the percentage of Canadians who have installed low-flow toilets increased from 15 percent in 1996 to 27 percent in 2004. Low flow shower-head use increased from 44 percent to 57 percent as well.

Save a drop, save a cent

Canadians consume on average 329 litres of water per day, second to only the United States. Flushing toilets and showering accounts for slightly more than half the daily water use.

Canada also happens to have the highest per capita supply of freshwater of industrial countries, accounting for 0.5 per cent of the world’s population but seven per cent of the globe’s total renewable water flow.

More and more Canadians are also making efforts to lessen their energy consumption. For example, by turning down the thermostat while people in the household are asleep. Canada still have a long way to go before it can truly be called a water sustainable nation, but its citizens are making active steps as illustrated by the statistics.

With so much renewable water flow, Canada is (or will be) the envy of the world. With that much fresh water, we have the responsibility to use it wisely and invest for the future. Not only for our sake, but for the sake of other nations and future generations.

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Water – Nature’s Abundant Gift?

Water is a mysterious but crucial substance.  Its origins and properties still evoke debate, despite its existence by some accounts dating back 3.8 Billion years.  Its forms alone are worthy of investigation. Water is the only substance whose solid form is less dense than its liquid, carrying tremendous implications for aquatic life.  In any of its forms, it can not be created, destroyed, nor leave the earth.  As such, it exists in a closed cycle known as the hydrosphere.  In the hydrological cycle, water circles through the earths system of reservoirs.  These reservoirs are numerous and well known, including: atmosphere (clouds and rain), oceans, lakes, rivers, ground water, icecaps, saturated soil and subterranean aquifers.  The water moves between these various reservoirs through the process of evapotranspiration, a name used to encompass the processes of evaporation (from oceans), sublimation (from lakes/rivers) and transpiration (from vegetation).

Figure 1. The hydrological cycle. (Trenberth et al. 2006a).

Between the numerous reservoirs, just how much water exists on the earth is a difficult number to determine.  It is impossible to know exactly.  Water trapped below the surface and that locked in ice caps and perma frost can never be measured exactly.  One of the best known estimates comes from Igor Shikloanov from the State Hydrological Institute in St. Petersburg.  His self admittedly crude estimate hits the 1.4 billion cubic km mark.  However, this huge number is misleading if not understood.  To represent that amount that is available for human consumption, more than 97% must be removed because ocean water is too salty to drink or use for irrigation.  A remaining 2.5% , or about 35 million cubic km is found in a freshwater state.  Unfortunately, this figure too requires further reduction.  At any one time, a small percent of the total is in the form of rain, clouds, fog or tied up in the biosphere.  An even more noteworthy chunk occupies 75% of the small freshwater total, locked and unusable in polar ice caps and tundra snow cover. Freshwater lakes and rivers, the renewable source we are concerned about preserving is a mere 90 000 cubic kilometers (a mere .26% of an already small 2.5% source).

A mere 0.26 percent of the water on Earth is drinkable.

Marg De Villers, author of award winning Water, creates a vivid image to make the numbers more manageable.  If all the worlds water was to be held in a 5L container, the usable freshwater source would occupy only a teaspoon.

When we know what we are working with, the need for conservation and proper management becomes overwhelmingly apparent.


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