Sources and Uses of Water - Orchids The International School
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Concept: Sources and Uses of Water

Water is an essential natural resource. Along with air and soil, it plays a vital role in the existence of life on earth. Water is made up of hydrogen and oxygen in a ratio of 2:1. 71% of the earth’s surface is covered with water in the form of seas and oceans.


Important sources of water:

  1. Oceans:
    • Oceans cover a significant portion of the earth.
    • Water found in oceans contains salts and minerals.
    • For this reason, ocean water is not suitable for drinking and domestic purpose.
  2. Snow and glaciers:
    • They comprise 2% of the total water available on earth.
    • However, water from snow and glaciers is fresh and does not contain excessive salts and minerals.
    • Hence, glaciers and snow fulfil 98% demand for freshwater.
    • Glaciers and snow melt to form water that reaches us in the form of rivers.

Importance of water in human body

  • 70% of our body comprises water.
  • Water participates in vital bodily processes like digestion, circulation and excretion.
  • Water is important for the overall functioning of our bodies.
  • Humans can survive without food for some days but not without water.

Types of water:

  1. Surface water:
    • The water that flows on the earth’s surface is called surface water.
    • Surface water is available in the form of water in rivers, oceans, seas and lakes.
  2. Underground water:
    • The rainwater that gets infiltrated through the soil reaches the deeper layers of soil and accumulates to form a water reserve called an aquifer.
    • It is generally found in the bedrock where the hard stones do not allow passage of water. Thus, the water gets collected in the cracks and holes.
    • Underground water is pumped using tubewells and handpumps.
    • In some places, the underground water is available in the form of springs.

Uses of water:

Water is used for various purposes. Some of them are described below—

  1. Irrigation:
    • Out of the total freshwater available on the earth’s surface, 84% of the water is used for irrigation.
    • Water for irrigation is provided through canals and tubewells.
  2. Domestic use:
    • 4% of water available is used for domestic purposes.
    • It includes washing, cleaning, drinking, cooking, flushing toilets and irrigating small plants and lawns.
  3. Industrial use:
    • 12% of the freshwater available is used for industrial uses.
    • Water is used for fabricating and making dyes.
    • Water also plays the role of a coolant in thermal power plants.
    • It is an important solvent that can dissolve most compounds in it and hence plays a vital role in the chemical industry.

Water Cycle:

  • It is the cyclic process of the movement of water from the atmosphere to the lithosphere and then back to the atmosphere.
  • The water cycle is a continuous process and depends on different environmental factors.
  • It comprises the following steps—
  1. Evaporation:
    • The conversion of water from liquid to gaseous form is called evaporation.
    • Water from seas, oceans, lakes etc., evaporates due to the sun’s heat.
    • Evaporation depends on temperature and wind.
    • The evaporation rate is more on hot and windy days than on cool days or rainy days.
  2. Condensation:
    • The conversion of water vapour back into the liquid state is called condensation.
    • As the water vapour rises upward, they start to cool due to the low temperatures in the upper layers of the atmosphere.
    • It leads to the formation of water droplets which accumulate to form clouds.
    • The water droplets condense to create fog and dew when the temperature becomes too low.
  3. Precipitation:
    • The reaching of evaporated water back to the lithosphere in the form of rain, sleet, drizzle or snowfall is called precipitation.
    • Drizzle, rain, sleet, and snowfall are the different forms of precipitation.
    • When the temperature is low during winters, the water droplets get converted into ice or snow, leading to hailstorms or snowfall, respectively.
    • Once the evaporated water reaches the lithosphere, the cycle repeats itself and starts with evaporation again.
  4. Infiltration:
    • The process of seeping water into the deeper layers of soil is called infiltration.
    • Infiltration replenishes the groundwater level.
    • This process is affected by the building of cemented roads. As cement is not porous, it does not allow the water to percolate into the soil.
    • Hence, we should always keep some parts around our houses bare or covered with grass so that water can reach the deeper layers of soil.

New Words

Atmosphere: The layer of a mixture of gases surrounds the earth

Lithosphere: : The outer solid part of the earth comprising rocks and soil.

Hailstorm: A type of precipitation that is a mixture of rain and hard ice chunks.

Did You Know?

  • Fogbow is a phenomenon similar to that of a rainbow which appears when the sunlight gets refracted by the fog particles.
  • Water is the best solvent on earth which can dissolve many solutes in it.
  • Cucumber has 95% of water in it.
  • Drinking too much water can lead to a fatal phenomenon called water intoxication.
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