Concept: Water—An Important Natural Resource
What is a natural resource?
- A natural resource is a material from the earth used to support life and meet people's needs.
- In simpler words, we can say that any natural substance humans use can be called a natural resource.
Examples: Air, water, wind, soil, forests, coal, petroleum, etc.
Water as a natural resource:
Water is an essential renewable natural resource because of the following reasons—
- It helps maintain an ecological balance as all living beings require water to survive.
- It helps in sustaining life.
- It is crucial for respiration in the case of aquatic organisms because oxygen remains dissolved in water.
- Plants require water to perform photosynthesis.
- Water is called the ‘universal solvent’ because many substances dissolve in it.
Sources of water:
- Surface water is any waterbody found on the earth's surface that includes seas, oceans, rivers, streams, and lakes.
- Underground water (also called groundwater) is the water found in soil, sand and rocks.
Sources of surface water:
1. Rivers and lakes:
- In the case of rivers and lakes, the water flows on the surface of the earth.
- Rivers are flowing masses of water that drain into seas or oceans, whereas lakes remain surrounded by land from all sides.
- The water from rivers and lakes is suitable for domestic use after properly purifying.
- Almost 71% of the earth’s surface is covered with oceans.
- The water in oceans is rich in minerals and salts.
- Water in oceans and seas is highly salty and thus not suitable for human consumption or use.
- Glaciers are huge masses of moving ice.
- Glaciers cover almost 10% of the earth’s land surface.
- Glacial water is the largest source of fresh water.
- Accumulated snow gradually converts into glaciers over a long time.
Sources of underground water:
- The primary source of underground water is rainwater.
- Rainwater is collected on the earth’s surface and gradually infiltrates through the soil layers and rock beds.
- This water seeps through the pores of the soil and the cracks of rocks.
- The rainwater accumulates to make a water reserve underneath the soil layer which can be extracted using hand pumps and motor pumps.
- Deep tube wells and wells also help us collect groundwater.
Role of water in the human body:
- 70% of the human body is made with water.
- Humans cannot survive without water for a long period. A person can survive without water hardly for two-three days.
- Water helps to perform several physiological processes like digestion, excretion, and blood circulation.
- Water helps flush out toxins from the body.
- Proper intake of water makes our skin appear hydrated.
- Water plays a vital role in regulating body temperature.
- It is also responsible for the creation of saliva.
Uses of water:
1. Domestic uses of water:
2. Agricultural uses of water:
Water is used in agricultural fields for irrigation. It involves supplying a controlled amount of water to the farming fields by digging canals, pipes, and sprinklers.
There are two methods of irrigation— Drip irrigation and Sprinkler irrigation.
3. Industrial uses of water:
- Water is essential in manufacturing and producing paper, chemicals, automobiles, steel, food, textile production, dying, etc.
- Water is a universal solvent. So, it is used to dissolve several compounds in industrial production.
- Water is used in industries for processing, diluting or fabricating a product.
- Water plays an important role in extracting minerals, oil, and gases.
- Lastly, water is the source of hydroelectricity, a renewable energy source that is popular worldwide.
The water cycle is the path that water follows as it moves around the earth in different states, namely solid, liquid and gas. It is a complex system that involves the following steps—
- The conversion of water from its liquid form to gaseous form is called evaporation.
- Due to the sun’s heat, water from all surface water bodies like lakes, rivers and oceans evaporates, and converts into water vapour.
- The conversion of water vapour from its gaseous state to the liquid state is called condensation.
- As vapour condenses, water droplets accumulate, leading to the formation of clouds in the atmosphere.
- These clouds cause rainfall that comes down on the earth’s surface.
- In this process, the evaporated water returns to the earth in the form of rain.
- In areas of extremely low temperatures, water droplets are converted into snow which comes down as snowfall, hailstorm or sleet.
- Rainwater gets collected in the surface water bodies like rivers, lakes, and ponds.
- This water again gets evaporated, and the whole cycle repeats.
Ecological balance: It is the harmonious co-existence of different living beings in the environment.
Toxins: These are harmful substances produced in our bodies due to different physiological processes.
Fabricating a product: Manufacturing a product from some prepared components.
Hailstorm: A storm involving pellets of frozen rain.
Sleet: Precipitation that involves partially frozen raindrops.
Did You Know?
- 70% of the human brain is nothing but water.
- Water is the only substance on earth found naturally in three states of matter—liquid, solid and gas.
- Despite water covering 71% of the planet’s surface, more than half the world’s population faces extreme water scarcity. Current data predicts that by the year 2040, up to 20 more countries could be experiencing water shortages.