Water is one of the most vital sources for all living organisms. Although water is a renewable resource, scarcity of quality water is still a big issue in many parts of the world. We need water for various purposes such as to grow food, keep clean, generate electricity, control fire, and most importantly to stay alive.
Types of Water Resources
The planet's atmosphere is covered in saltwater. However, when it relates to potable water sources, saltwater is actually ineffective. Desalination plants, though they do operate, are in short supply due to the high energy costs associated with the operation.
Apart from spectacular ocean views, there have been saltwater opportunities through which humans gain profit. Saltwater fish is indeed a staple of many people's diets around the world. In addition, tidal waters have been used to generate hydroelectric power.
Of all the freshwater resources, groundwater in the water natural resources is perhaps the most abundant. Part of the water that filters down into the soil via layers of dirt, clay, and rock stacks to the uppermost layers, providing water to the plants.
This water is in the vadose region, which means it is unsaturated. Instead of water, almost all of the pores in the vadose zone are filled with air.
Inputs, outputs, and storage are the same for groundwater as they are for surface water. The crucial distinction is that, due to the slow turnover rate, groundwater storage is typically much greater (in volume) than surface water storage in comparison to inputs.
Because of this distinction, humans may use groundwater in an unsustainable manner over an extended period of time without suffering serious repercussions. Nonetheless, the average rate of drainage above a groundwater source is the upper limit for average groundwater use during the longer run.
Surface Water Resources:
The water in lakes and rivers is known as surface water. Potable water, recreation, industry, agriculture, transportation, livestock, and hydroelectric energy are all uses for this water.
Groundwater natural resources provide over 63 percent of the municipal water supply. Irrigation relies on surface water for 58 percent of all its water supply. Irrigation relies on groundwater for 58 percent of its water system.
Surface water systems have nearly 98 percent of the water used by industry. As a result, maintaining and improving the surface water quality is critical. Watershed entities track streamflow and groundwater management on a regular basis.
Flooding and drought conditions are predicted by monitoring streamflow. Since surface water provides most of the water used within the United States, water resources information and management are important. It is a chemical, biological, and physical test that determines how acceptable the water is.
Electrical conductivity, temperature, pH, dissolved oxygen levels, phosphorus levels, bacteria levels, and nitrogen levels are evaluated as indicators of water quality.
Though earth is called the water planet as it is occupied by 75 percent of water, this water cannot be used for domestic purposes. Ocean water is saline in nature and is not fit for human consumption. Freshwater is just around 2.7 percent of the total water on the earth. Issues such as global warming and perpetuating water pollution have made a considerable amount of impact on making freshwater unfit for human consumption.
Uses of Freshwater
Water resources are used in various fields such as agricultural, industrial, domestic, recreational, and environmental activities. Most of the uses require fresh water.
However, around 97 percent of the water on the earth is saltwater and only three percent is freshwater. About two-thirds of the available freshwater is frozen in glaciers and polar ice caps. The remaining freshwater is found underground and a negligible portion of it is present on the ground or in the air.
The following are detailed views on how water is used in different sectors.
Agriculture accounts for about 69 per cent of all water consumption especially in agricultural economies like India. Agriculture thereby becomes the largest consumer of the Earth’s available freshwater.
By 2050, the global water demand for agriculture is estimated to increase by an additional 19% due to irrigation needs. Increasing irrigation needs are likely to put immense pressure on water storage. It is still not concluded whether further expansion of irrigation and additional water withdrawals from rivers and groundwater is possible in the future.
Water is the lifesaver of the industry. It is used for various purposes such as a raw material coolant, a solvent, a transport agent, and as a source of energy. Manufacturing industries are considered to have a considerable share of the total industrial water consumption. Besides, paper and allied products, chemicals, and primary metals are major industrial users of water. Worldwide, the industry consumes around 19 percent of total water consumption. In industrialized countries, the industries use more than half of the water available for human use.
It includes usages like drinking, cleaning, personal hygiene, garden care, cooking, washing of clothes, dishes, vehicles, etc. Since the end of World War II, there has been a trend of people migrating out of the country to the ever-expanding cities. This trend has an important role in our water resources.
The government and communities are in a need to provide large water-supply systems to deliver water to new growing populations and industries. Comparing all water consumption in the world, domestic uses about 12 percent of the total water consumed.
Electricity generated from water is called hydropower. Hydropower is one of the highly renewable sources of electricity in the world. It accounts for around 16 percent of the total electricity generated globally. There are numerous opportunities for hydropower development around the world.
At present, the leading hydropower generating countries are China, the US, Brazil, Canada, India, and Russia.
Navigable waterways are defined as watercourses that can be used to transport interstate or foreign commerce. Moving of agricultural and commercial goods on the water is done on a large scale around various parts of the world.
Water is also used for recreational purposes like boating, swimming, and sporting activities. These usages affect the quality of water and pollute it. The highest priority should be given to public health and drinking water quality while permitting such activities in reservoirs, lakes, and rivers.
Overutilization of Surface and Groundwater
Water scarcity has become a big global issue. The UN has held several conventions on the water in recent decades. Continuous overutilization of surface and groundwater has led to increased water scarcity in the world today.
The depleting sources for high growth in the human population over the centuries and increased man-made water pollution across the world have created unforeseen water scarcity around the globe. As a result, there has been continuous overutilization of the existing water sources due to unconditional growth in the world population.
Groundwater is the major source of water in various parts of the world. However, there has been continuous depletion of this source due to its overexploitation by the rising human population and the rapid rise in industrialization and urbanization in modern times.
Consequences of Overutilization
Water scarcity has now become a very important topic in international diplomacy. From a small village to the United Nations, water scarcity is a widely-discussed topic in decision-making.
Nearly three billion people around the world suffer from water scarcity. International, intrastate and regional rivalries on the water are not new to the world.
According to World Health Organization (WHO) sources, a combination of the rising global population, economic growth, and climate change means that by the year 2050, more than five billion (52%) of the world’s projected 9.7 billion people will live in areas with freshwater scarcity. Researchers estimated that about 1 billion more people will be living in areas where water demand will exceed surface-water supply.
Scientists, environmentalists, and biologists worldwide are now warning that climate change will have a major impact on the drainage pattern and hydrological cycle of the earth thereby affecting the surface and groundwater availability to a new extent.
Climate change is believed to raise the global temperature at an increasing pace. The increase in temperature affects the hydrological cycle by directly increasing the evaporation of available surface water and vegetation transpiration.
As a result, precipitation amount, timing, and intensity rates are largely affected. It impacts the storage of water in surface and subsurface reservoirs.
Water crisis is ever emerging in India and needs to be properly addressed. The onus of conservation lies with us, the people. Understanding the concept and use of water use, we can think of sustainable use.