March 1, 2011

Water is essential to life on earth. We need water to grow food, keep clean, provide power, control fire, and last but not least, we need it to stay alive!

Kids often ask me: If water is constantly being cleaned and recycled through the earth’s water cycle, why do we need to conserve it?


So let’s start with understanding how this thing called THE WATER CYCLE works.

1.    Evaporation. The sun heats water in rivers, lakes, and the ocean and turns it into vapor (fog, mist, or steam), and the vapor rises into the air.

2.    Condensation. When the vapor cools down, it turns into tiny drops of water that cling to each other and form clouds.

3.    Precipitation. The water falls from the clouds in the form of rain, snow, sleet or even hail.

4.    Runoff. Some of the precipitation is collected in Earth’s rivers, lakes, streams, and reservoirs. In our country, we clean this water in treatment plants and use it to meet our basic needs.

However, there is not unlimited water for humans to use. While it’s true that our planet Earth looks like a big blue ball because 75% of it is covered by water, a lot of that water is not usable in that form, either because it is salt water (in the oceans) or because it is frozen (in glaciers and the polar icecaps).  For this reason, water is a limited resource that we must conserve and protect.

There are other benefits to saving water. You save energy by using less hot water (reducing your family’s carbon footprint), and when you’re using less energy, you’re also saving money. A win all around!

What can you and your family do to conserve water? Here’s how you can change your daily habits and make a big difference:

·      When it’s time to brush your teeth, fill a glass of water, turn off the faucet, and brush for two minutes. Then, use some of the water in the glass to rinse your mouth, and the rest to rinse off your toothbrush. Voilà! Teeth brushed with just one glass of water.

·      If you use a dishwasher, follow these tips:

a.    Use the RINSE cycle when there are just a few dishes in the dishwasher (some machines call it "Rinse and Hold"). This will soften or remove most of the food waste on the dishes, so that they can sit for a few days until the dishwasher is full. Then, run the full clean cycle.


b.    If you like to rinse your dishes off in the sink before you put them in the dishwasher, don’t keep the water running while you do it. Instead, put the stopper in the drain, run a couple of inches of water, and use your sponge or dishcloth to wipe the dishes before they go in the dishwasher.

·      Apply the same idea to doing laundry. Don’t run the washing machine until you have a full load of wash.

Remember, 1 in every 3 people in the world does not have access to clean, safe water to meet their daily needs.  That is only going to get worse as our population grows.

Water is an essential resource to sustain life. As governments and community organizations make it a priority to deliver adequate supplies of quality water to people, we all can help by learning how to conserve and protect this precious resource in our daily lives.


Water Cycle Diagram courtesy  

Posted by: Seymour Simon

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