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It s on the Internet These phrases have quickly become a part of the vernacular. The quintessential book of data relating to water, The Water Encyclopedia: Hydrologic Data and Internet Resources, Third Edition arose from the premise that most of the information provided within this publication could be easily found on the Internet. As the editors and their team of contributors soon discovered, using the Internet for research can be problematic. Too much, too little, and questionable data sets can influence the caliber of your results.

The new edition contains more than tables and figures providing data related to weather, surface water, ground water, water use, water quality, waste water, pollution, and water resource management. The first two chapters are completely new and discuss data management and international data collection. The hydrogen bonds are also the reason why the melting and boiling points of water are much higher than those of other analogous compounds like hydrogen sulfide H 2 S.

They also explain its exceptionally high specific heat capacity about 4. These properties make water more effective at moderating Earth's climate , by storing heat and transporting it between the oceans and the atmosphere. Pure water has a low electrical conductivity , which increases with the dissolution of a small amount of ionic material such as common salt. Liquid water can be split into the elements hydrogen and oxygen by passing an electric current through it—a process called electrolysis.


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The decomposition requires more energy input than the heat released by the inverse process Liquid water can be assumed to be incompressible for most purposes: its compressibility ranges from 4. Sound travels long distances in water with little attenuation, especially at low frequencies roughly 0. Metallic elements which are more electropositive than hydrogen such as lithium , sodium , calcium , potassium and caesium displace hydrogen from water, forming hydroxides and releasing hydrogen. At high temperatures, carbon reacts with steam to form carbon monoxide.

Hydrology is the study of the movement, distribution, and quality of water throughout the Earth. The study of the distribution of water is hydrography. The study of the distribution and movement of groundwater is hydrogeology , of glaciers is glaciology , of inland waters is limnology and distribution of oceans is oceanography. Ecological processes with hydrology are in focus of ecohydrology. The collective mass of water found on, under, and over the surface of a planet is called the hydrosphere. Earth's approximate water volume the total water supply of the world is 1.

Liquid water is found in bodies of water , such as an ocean, sea, lake, river, stream, canal , pond, or puddle. The majority of water on Earth is sea water. Water is also present in the atmosphere in solid, liquid, and vapor states. It also exists as groundwater in aquifers.

The Water Encyclopedia: Hydrologic Data and Internet Resources | NHBS Academic & Professional Books

Water is important in many geological processes. Groundwater is present in most rocks , and the pressure of this groundwater affects patterns of faulting. Water in the mantle is responsible for the melt that produces volcanoes at subduction zones. On the surface of the Earth, water is important in both chemical and physical weathering processes. Water, and to a lesser but still significant extent, ice, are also responsible for a large amount of sediment transport that occurs on the surface of the earth.

Deposition of transported sediment forms many types of sedimentary rocks , which make up the geologic record of Earth history. The water cycle known scientifically as the hydrologic cycle refers to the continuous exchange of water within the hydrosphere , between the atmosphere , soil water, surface water , groundwater , and plants.

Water moves perpetually through each of these regions in the water cycle consisting of the following transfer processes:. Precipitation, at a rate of Tt per year over land, has several forms: most commonly rain, snow, and hail , with some contribution from fog and dew. Dew usually forms in the morning when the temperature is the lowest, just before sunrise and when the temperature of the earth's surface starts to increase.

Water runoff often collects over watersheds flowing into rivers. A mathematical model used to simulate river or stream flow and calculate water quality parameters is a hydrological transport model. Some water is diverted to irrigation for agriculture. Rivers and seas offer opportunity for travel and commerce. Through erosion , runoff shapes the environment creating river valleys and deltas which provide rich soil and level ground for the establishment of population centers.

A flood occurs when an area of land, usually low-lying, is covered with water. It is when a river overflows its banks or flood comes from the sea. A drought is an extended period of months or years when a region notes a deficiency in its water supply. This occurs when a region receives consistently below average precipitation. Water occurs as both "stocks" and "flows. Of the total volume of global freshwater, an estimated 69 percent is stored in glaciers and permanent snow cover; 30 percent is in groundwater; and the remaining 1 percent in lakes, rivers, the atmosphere, and biota.

A substantial fraction of the water supply for some regions consists of water extracted from water stored in stocks, and when withdrawals exceed recharge, stocks decrease. By some estimates, as much as 30 percent of total water used for irrigation comes from unsustainable withdrawals of groundwater, causing groundwater depletion.

Sea water contains about 3. The physical properties of sea water differ from fresh water in some important respects. The salinity of water in major seas varies from about 0. Tides are the cyclic rising and falling of local sea levels caused by the tidal forces of the Moon and the Sun acting on the oceans. Tides cause changes in the depth of the marine and estuarine water bodies and produce oscillating currents known as tidal streams.

The changing tide produced at a given location is the result of the changing positions of the Moon and Sun relative to the Earth coupled with the effects of Earth rotation and the local bathymetry. The strip of seashore that is submerged at high tide and exposed at low tide, the intertidal zone , is an important ecological product of ocean tides.

From a biological standpoint, water has many distinct properties that are critical for the proliferation of life. It carries out this role by allowing organic compounds to react in ways that ultimately allow replication. All known forms of life depend on water. Water is vital both as a solvent in which many of the body's solutes dissolve and as an essential part of many metabolic processes within the body. Metabolism is the sum total of anabolism and catabolism. In anabolism, water is removed from molecules through energy requiring enzymatic chemical reactions in order to grow larger molecules e.

In catabolism, water is used to break bonds in order to generate smaller molecules e. Without water, these particular metabolic processes could not exist. Water is fundamental to photosynthesis and respiration. Photosynthetic cells use the sun's energy to split off water's hydrogen from oxygen [ citation needed ]. Hydrogen is combined with CO 2 absorbed from air or water to form glucose and release oxygen [ citation needed ]. All living cells use such fuels and oxidize the hydrogen and carbon to capture the sun's energy and reform water and CO 2 in the process cellular respiration.

Water is also central to acid-base neutrality and enzyme function. Water is considered to be neutral, with a pH the negative log of the hydrogen ion concentration of 7. Acids have pH values less than 7 while bases have values greater than 7. Earth surface waters are filled with life. The earliest life forms appeared in water; nearly all fish live exclusively in water, and there are many types of marine mammals, such as dolphins and whales.

Some kinds of animals, such as amphibians , spend portions of their lives in water and portions on land. Plants such as kelp and algae grow in the water and are the basis for some underwater ecosystems.

Plankton is generally the foundation of the ocean food chain. Aquatic vertebrates must obtain oxygen to survive, and they do so in various ways. Fish have gills instead of lungs , although some species of fish, such as the lungfish , have both. Marine mammals , such as dolphins, whales, otters , and seals need to surface periodically to breathe air.

Some amphibians are able to absorb oxygen through their skin. Invertebrates exhibit a wide range of modifications to survive in poorly oxygenated waters including breathing tubes see insect and mollusc siphons and gills Carcinus. However as invertebrate life evolved in an aquatic habitat most have little or no specialisation for respiration in water. Civilization has historically flourished around rivers and major waterways; Mesopotamia , the so-called cradle of civilization, was situated between the major rivers Tigris and Euphrates ; the ancient society of the Egyptians depended entirely upon the Nile.

Rome was also founded on the banks of the Italian river Tiber. Islands with safe water ports, like Singapore, have flourished for the same reason. In places such as North Africa and the Middle East, where water is more scarce, access to clean drinking water was and is a major factor in human development. Water fit for human consumption is called drinking water or potable water. Water that is not potable may be made potable by filtration or distillation , or by a range of other methods.

Water that is not fit for drinking but is not harmful for humans when used for swimming or bathing is called by various names other than potable or drinking water, and is sometimes called safe water , or "safe for bathing". Chlorine is a skin and mucous membrane irritant that is used to make water safe for bathing or drinking. Its use is highly technical and is usually monitored by government regulations typically 1 part per million ppm for drinking water, and 1—2 ppm of chlorine not yet reacted with impurities for bathing water.

Water for bathing may be maintained in satisfactory microbiological condition using chemical disinfectants such as chlorine or ozone or by the use of ultraviolet light. In the US, non-potable forms of wastewater generated by humans may be referred to as greywater , which is treatable and thus easily able to be made potable again, and blackwater , which generally contains sewage and other forms of waste which require further treatment in order to be made reusable.

These terms may have different meanings in other countries and cultures. This natural resource is becoming scarcer in certain places, and its availability is a major social and economic concern. Currently, about a billion people around the world routinely drink unhealthy water. In , the United Nations established the Millennium Development Goals for water to halve by the proportion of people worldwide without access to safe water and sanitation. Progress toward that goal was uneven, and in the UN committed to the following targets set by the Sustainable Development Goals of achieving universal access to safe and affordable water and sanitation by Poor water quality and bad sanitation are deadly; some five million deaths a year are caused by water-related diseases.

The World Health Organization estimates that safe water could prevent 1. Water, however, is not an infinite resource meaning the availability of water is limited , but rather re-circulated as potable water in precipitation [32] in quantities many orders of magnitude higher than human consumption. Water-poor countries use importation of goods as the primary method of importing water to leave enough for local human consumption , [ further explanation needed ] since the manufacturing process [ clarification needed ] uses around 10 to times products' masses in water.

The most important use of water in agriculture is for irrigation , which is a key component to produce enough food.

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Fifty years ago, the common perception was that water was an infinite resource. At the time, there were fewer than half the current number of people on the planet. People were not as wealthy as today, consumed fewer calories and ate less meat, so less water was needed to produce their food. They required a third of the volume of water we presently take from rivers. Today, the competition for the fixed amount of water resources is much more intense, giving rise to the concept of peak water.

In future, even more water will be needed to produce food because the Earth's population is forecast to rise to 9 billion by An assessment of water management in agriculture was conducted in by the International Water Management Institute in Sri Lanka to see if the world had sufficient water to provide food for its growing population. It found that a fifth of the world's people, more than 1. A further 1.

The report found that it would be possible to produce the food required in future, but that continuation of today's food production and environmental trends would lead to crises in many parts of the world. To avoid a global water crisis, farmers will have to strive to increase productivity to meet growing demands for food, while industry and cities find ways to use water more efficiently.

While cotton accounts for 2. Significant environmental damage has been caused, such as disappearance of the Aral Sea. On 7 April , the gram was defined in France to be equal to "the absolute weight of a volume of pure water equal to a cube of one hundredth of a meter, and at the temperature of melting ice". Work was therefore commissioned to determine precisely the mass of one liter of water.

The Kelvin temperature scale of the SI system was based on the triple point of water, defined as exactly Natural water consists mainly of the isotopes hydrogen-1 and oxygen, but there is also a small quantity of heavier isotopes oxygen, oxygen, and hydrogen-2 deuterium. The percentage of the heavier isotopes is very small, but it still affects the properties of water.


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  7. Water from rivers and lakes tends to contain less heavy isotopes than seawater. Most of this is ingested through foods or beverages other than drinking straight water. It is not clear how much water intake is needed by healthy people, though the British Dietetic Association advises that 2. Healthy kidneys can excrete 0.

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    People can drink far more water than necessary while exercising, putting them at risk of water intoxication hyperhydration , which can be fatal. An original recommendation for water intake in by the Food and Nutrition Board of the United States National Research Council read: "An ordinary standard for diverse persons is 1 milliliter for each calorie of food. Most of this quantity is contained in prepared foods. Specifically, pregnant and breastfeeding women need additional fluids to stay hydrated. The Institute of Medicine US recommends that, on average, men consume 3 liters 0.

    Water is excreted from the body in multiple forms; through urine and feces , through sweating , and by exhalation of water vapor in the breath. With physical exertion and heat exposure, water loss will increase and daily fluid needs may increase as well. Humans require water with few impurities. Some solutes are acceptable and even desirable for taste enhancement and to provide needed electrolytes.

    The single largest by volume freshwater resource suitable for drinking is Lake Baikal in Siberia. The propensity of water to form solutions and emulsions is useful in various washing processes. Washing is also an important component of several aspects of personal body hygiene. Most of personal water use is due to showering , doing the laundry and dishwashing , reaching hundreds of liters per day per person in developed countries. The use of water for transportation of materials through rivers and canals as well as the international shipping lanes is an important part of the world economy.

    Water is widely used in chemical reactions as a solvent or reactant and less commonly as a solute or catalyst. In inorganic reactions, water is a common solvent, dissolving many ionic compounds, as well as other polar compounds such as ammonia and compounds closely related to water. In organic reactions, it is not usually used as a reaction solvent, because it does not dissolve the reactants well and is amphoteric acidic and basic and nucleophilic.

    Nevertheless, these properties are sometimes desirable. Also, acceleration of Diels-Alder reactions by water has been observed. Supercritical water has recently been a topic of research. Oxygen-saturated supercritical water combusts organic pollutants efficiently. Water vapor is used for some processes in the chemical industry. An example is the production of acrylic acid from acrolein, propylene and propane. Water and steam are a common fluid used for heat exchange , due to its availability and high heat capacity , both for cooling and heating.

    Cool water may even be naturally available from a lake or the sea. It's especially effective to transport heat through vaporization and condensation of water because of its large latent heat of vaporization. A disadvantage is that metals commonly found in industries such as steel and copper are oxidized faster by untreated water and steam.

    In almost all thermal power stations , water is used as the working fluid used in a closed loop between boiler, steam turbine and condenser , and the coolant used to exchange the waste heat to a water body or carry it away by evaporation in a cooling tower. In the United States, cooling power plants is the largest use of water.

    In the nuclear power industry, water can also be used as a neutron moderator. In most nuclear reactors , water is both a coolant and a moderator. This provides something of a passive safety measure, as removing the water from the reactor also slows the nuclear reaction down. However other methods are favored for stopping a reaction and it is preferred to keep the nuclear core covered with water so as to ensure adequate cooling.

    Water has a high heat of vaporization and is relatively inert, which makes it a good fire extinguishing fluid. The evaporation of water carries heat away from the fire. It is dangerous to use water on fires involving oils and organic solvents, because many organic materials float on water and the water tends to spread the burning liquid. Use of water in fire fighting should also take into account the hazards of a steam explosion , which may occur when water is used on very hot fires in confined spaces, and of a hydrogen explosion, when substances which react with water, such as certain metals or hot carbon such as coal, charcoal , or coke graphite, decompose the water, producing water gas.

    The power of such explosions was seen in the Chernobyl disaster , although the water involved did not come from fire-fighting at that time but the reactor's own water cooling system. A steam explosion occurred when the extreme overheating of the core caused water to flash into steam. A hydrogen explosion may have occurred as a result of reaction between steam and hot zirconium. Some metallic oxides, most notably those of alkali metals and alkaline earth metals , produce so much heat on reaction with water that a fire hazard can develop.

    The alkaline earth oxide quicklime is a mass-produced substance which is often transported in paper bags. If these are soaked through, they may ignite as their contents react with water. Humans use water for many recreational purposes, as well as for exercising and for sports. Some of these include swimming, waterskiing , boating , surfing and diving.

    In addition, some sports, like ice hockey and ice skating , are played on ice. Lakesides, beaches and water parks are popular places for people to go to relax and enjoy recreation. Many find the sound and appearance of flowing water to be calming, and fountains and other water features are popular decorations. Some keep fish and other life in aquariums or ponds for show, fun, and companionship. Humans also use water for snow sports i. The water industry provides drinking water and wastewater services including sewage treatment to households and industry. Water supply facilities include water wells , cisterns for rainwater harvesting , water supply networks , and water purification facilities, water tanks , water towers , water pipes including old aqueducts.

    Atmospheric water generators are in development. Drinking water is often collected at springs , extracted from artificial borings wells in the ground, or pumped from lakes and rivers. Building more wells in adequate places is thus a possible way to produce more water, assuming the aquifers can supply an adequate flow. Other water sources include rainwater collection.

    Water may require purification for human consumption. This may involve removal of undissolved substances, dissolved substances and harmful microbes. Popular methods are filtering with sand which only removes undissolved material, while chlorination and boiling kill harmful microbes. Distillation does all three functions. More advanced techniques exist, such as reverse osmosis. Desalination of abundant seawater is a more expensive solution used in coastal arid climates.

    The distribution of drinking water is done through municipal water systems , tanker delivery or as bottled water. Governments in many countries have programs to distribute water to the needy at no charge. Reducing usage by using drinking potable water only for human consumption is another option. In some cities such as Hong Kong, sea water is extensively used for flushing toilets citywide in order to conserve fresh water resources. Polluting water may be the biggest single misuse of water; to the extent that a pollutant limits other uses of the water, it becomes a waste of the resource, regardless of benefits to the polluter.

    Like other types of pollution, this does not enter standard accounting of market costs, being conceived as externalities for which the market cannot account. Thus other people pay the price of water pollution, while the private firms' profits are not redistributed to the local population, victims of this pollution. Pharmaceuticals consumed by humans often end up in the waterways and can have detrimental effects on aquatic life if they bioaccumulate and if they are not biodegradable.

    Municipal and industrial wastewater are typically treated at wastewater treatment plants. Mitigation of polluted surface runoff is addressed through a variety of prevention and treatment techniques. Populations that have overused their water supplies or have allowed their water to become polluted have suffered serious consequences. Many archeologists attribute the mysterious disappearance of the Anasazi people from the American Southwest to inadequate water supply.

    Diseases caused by poor sanitation and poisoning from lead pipes were ironically, two factors that contributed to the fall of the Roman Empire. Improper waste management has also played a major role in the spread of diseases such as the bubonic plague that killed millions of Europeans during the Middle Ages.

    Waterborne diseases such as cholera, typhoid, typhus, and dysentery thrive where sewers bearing waste from infected persons empty into a public water supply. Scientists only began to understand the dangers of microscopic bacteria in sewage-polluted water after an epidemic of cholera killed thousands of people in Europe and the United States in the s. History of the American conservation movement. The idea of conservation only began to gain popularity in the United States at the end of the s.


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    Until then the North American frontier had provided seemingly inexhaustible natural resources, including abundant fresh water. By the s however, European settlement had reached across the entire continent, and the census of declared the American frontier closed. Unrestricted sport hunting had slaughtered the bison herds of the Great Plains and killed off the flocks of passenger pigeons that once migrated traveled periodically down the Atlantic coast.

    Logging, grazing, mining, and hydropower power from water energy development threatened America's most dramatic national landmarks. Niagara Falls , for example, nearly lost its untamed water flow. The Gilded Age at the end of the nineteenth century was also a time of unregulated resource exploitation and social inequality that made conservation an appealing idea to the general American public and to government leaders. Powerful businessmen of the mining, timber, railroad, and ranching industries became immensely wealthy as they laid waste to America's pristine forests, prairies, wetlands and waterways.

    At the same time, most Americans saw their living standards decline. Without government oversight, laborers, owners of small businesses, and independent settlers were at the mercy of the economically and politically powerful industrialists. While the powerful of the gilded age enjoyed luxurious estates and the diversions of high society, average Americans received low wages, worked in poor conditions, and lived in crowded cities and towns. Gifford Pinchot — founded the conservation movement in the United States in the late s.

    Pinchot argued that the best use of nature was to improve the life of common citizens. Pinchot's ideas were inspired by his observations of environmental destruction and social inequality that resulted from unregulated wilderness exploitation during the s. He was also influenced by the writings of other nineteenth century explorers and naturalists including George Perkins Marsh and John Wesley Powell. Pinchot had great influence during the presidency of Theodore Roosevelt —9 , and he helped to steer conservation policies from the turn of the century until the s.

    Roosevelt was an avid hunter and an ardent conservationist in his own right. Pinchot became the first head of the U. National Forest Service when it was established in Conservation efforts have continued in the United States since the era of Roosevelt and Pinchot. Government agencies, groups of private citizens, and even business leaders have developed strategies to protect America's natural resources. The U.

    Water Conservation

    Universities and professional schools offer courses in resource management and natural sciences such as biology and geology. The discipline of ecology, the study of communities of plants and animals that live and interact in a specific environment, blossomed as scientists, engineers, and policy makers sought to understand the natural environments they were charged to protect. Some early conservation strategies may seem strange by modern standards, and have had unintended negative consequences.

    For example, extreme flood control measures along the Mississippi river system exposed a large human population to catastrophic mega-floods. However early environmental policies were based on the science of the time, and were unquestionably fairer and less destructive than the unchecked industrial development they replaced. Water conservation programs and projects played a major role in President Franklin D. Roosevelt's — " New Deal " plan to revive the United States economy during and after the Great Depression of the s.

    Government-sponsored hydroelectric projects such as the Tennessee Valley Authority TVA , which dammed the Tennessee River for flood control and electricity generation, provided work for thousands of unemployed engineers and laborers. The Bureau of Reclamation, a government agency that manages the surface water west of the Rocky Mountains , constructed more than dams during s and s, including Hoover Dam on the Colorado River, and Grand Coulee Dam on the Columbia River. East of the Rockies, the Army Corps of Engineers helped put the American public back to work by building dams and other water control structures in the Mississippi River system.

    The Soil Conservation Service was established to advise farmers in maintaining and developing their farmland. Conservation or preservation? Pinchot and other early conservationists fundamentally disagreed with early preservationists who thought that some wilderness should be protected solely to preserve its beauty or its natural ecosystem.

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    John Muir , an eloquent writer who worked to protect Yosemite Valley in California, led the early preservationist movement. He bitterly opposed Pinchot's vision of the nation's wilderness and waterways as warehouses of useful materials. Because of its more moderate stance, Pinchot's conservation became the more popular position and it has since guided U. The preservationists did however, strike a chord with the American public and some of their ideas were incorporated into a mainstream conservation movement. In the s, environmentalists echoed Muir's arguments when they raised objections to conservation's anthropocentric human-centered emphasis.

    Late twentieth century naturalists such as Rachel Carson — , Edward Abbey — , Aldo Leopold — , as well as more radical environmental groups, including Greenpeace and Earth First! Water is by far the most carefully managed natural resource in the United States today. The average American uses about gallons Per person water use is even greater when including indirect uses such as irrigation for a person's food and water used to manufacture consumer products.

    A complex system of local, state, and national water boards and agencies manages the U. It is only a slight exaggeration to say that every drop of river water in the United States encounters a human water control structure or system of some sort before eventually reaching the ocean or evaporating into the atmosphere. All of the nation's. Forest Service, stood on one side of the bargaining table. Muir, founder of the Sierra Club , stood on the other. In , Mayor Phelan proposed damming the Tuolumne River to create a reservoir in the Hetch-Hetchy valley that would supply San Francisco with much-needed fresh water.

    To Pinchot and other early conservationists, the project was an example of the wise use of natural resources to improve the lives of common citizens. Most of the common citizens of San Francisco had never heard of Hetch-Hetchy, let alone made the mile kilometer trip by carriage to enjoy its natural beauty. They were however, very interested in ending the perpetual water shortages and outbreaks of water-borne illness that plagued their booming city. To Muir, the Hetch-Hetchy dam was heresy. He wrote, in a Sierra Club bulletin, "Hetch-Hetchy valley, far from being a plain, common, rock-bound meadow Dam Hetch-Hetchy!

    As well dam for water-tanks the people's cathedrals and churches, for no holier temple has ever been consecrated by the heart of man. He wrote passionately in defense of Yosemite's natural beauty and spiritual worth. He took his appeal to lawmakers in Sacramento and Washington, D. To Mayor Phelan, John Muir was insensitive to the needs of people, and a thorn in the side of reasonable progress. Phelan's Hetch-Hetchy proposal was turned down, and Muir's campaign stalled the plan again in , , and Phelan wrote of Muir, "He [John Muir] is a poetical gentleman.

    I am sure he would sacrifice his own family for the sake of beauty. He considers human life very cheap. The quake ruptured gas lines and fuel tanks and fires raged throughout the city. Residents assumed that city firefighters' inadequate water supply was one of the reasons for the total destruction. Hetch-Hetchy reservoir was filled in Muir died, disappointed, a year later. Muir's legacy, however, remained. His book and essays continue to inspire new generations of nature lovers and environmental activists. John Muir was America's first environmentalists.

    Engineers and water managers control river flows in the United States to such an extent that many floods and shortages are today an act of man as well as nature. Water is one of the most economically valuable resources. Central California receives only a few inches centimeters of rain each year, but with irrigation water imported from the Sierra Mountains and the Colorado River, it has become "America's salad bowl.

    The Colorado River is so heavily used by the states along its path Colorado, Utah, Arizona, Nevada, and California that it contains only a trickle of water where it crosses the Mexican border and it no longer reaches the ocean. In fact, because the Colorado River water distribution plan was agreed upon during a relatively wet period, the river actually contains less water than was promised to its various human users.

    Water use is strictly regulated according to local, state, and national laws. With the exception of small lakes and streams on private property, bodies of surface water are public property. In most states private landowners must allow the general public to use water from rivers or lakes on their property. Furthermore, they must abide by the same water quality and withdrawal guidelines as the rest of their water district.

    Unlike surface water groundwater usually belongs legally to the owner of the overlying land. Most groundwater laws were written before scientists understood groundwater moves in underground reservoirs, and that single users can overuse or pollute shared groundwater resources. Individuals, industries, and communities that abuse groundwater usually face few legal consequences, especially compared to users who pollute or overuse surface water. If for example, a city's water reservoir runs low during a dry spell the regional water district can legally purchase water from other sources, and can require the whole community to take water-saving measures like restricting summertime lawn irrigation and car washing.

    If on the other hand, a farm's well goes dry after the farmer's neighbor lowers the water table level below which rocks and soils are saturated with water by over pumping, no legal action could be taken against the neighbor and the farmers would likely need to drill a deeper well. Although water shortages, floods, pollution, and water-related legal conflicts are relatively common in the United States, water conservation policies generally ensure that Americans can trust their water supply. People in other parts of the world are not so fortunate, particularly in the developing nations of Africa, South America , and Asia.

    In many regions arid climate, rapid population growth, poverty, and political instability are a recipe for water shortages and pollution. Two-thirds of the world's population lives on less than 13 gallons 49 liters of water per day. Remember that an average American uses about eight times that much water.

    When political tension becomes war or an already dry climate gets drier, people who were surviving with limited freshwater are faced with famine food shortages leading to starvation and disease. In recent decades conservation has become a critical issue for the international community.

    Their strategy, called sustainable development, is based on a philosophy that is very similar to Pinchot's original conservation ideal. Earlier international programs viewed environmental protection and economic development as an "either-or" decision between preserving nature and human prosperity. Sustainable development schemes aim to address humans' most pressing social issues like poverty, famine, and disease by solving environmental problems such as water scarcity and pollution. New strategies for coping with environmental issues also involve providing economic incentives that encourage economically powerful nations and industries to act for the common good.

    Bixler, Patricia E. Gifford Pinchot. Historic Pennsylvania Leaflet No. Edited by Harold L. McPhee, John. The Control of Nature. New York : Farrar, Straus and Giroux, Muir, John. The Yosemite. New York : The Century Company, Pipkin, Bernard, W. Daughtry, Hill. United Nations Environment Programme. United States Geological Survey. Cite this article Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography. September 23, Retrieved September 23, from Encyclopedia. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list. Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.

    Water conservation is the use and management of water for the good of all consumers. It is used in agriculture, industry, and the home. Human requirements for agricultural production, flood control, fish and wildlife management, navigation, industrial production, and many other uses have amended natural hydrologic processes. The hydrosphere refers to that portion of Earth that is made of water, including all oceans, lakes, rivers, streams, glaciers, and underground water. However, the amount of freshwater useable by people and other members of the biosphere is less than 0.

    This relatively small amount of available freshwater is recycled and purified by the action of processes within the hydrologic cycle, including evaporation, condensation, precipitation, and percolation through the ground. All life depends on the availability of freshwater. The remainder is used for industrial and domestic purposes. However, these proportions vary widely due to the climatic and economic conditions of the particular locality.

    Within this century, one-third of the countries situated in areas of water scarcity may encounter severe water shortages. The need for more effective conservation of the limited supplies of water that are available for use by people and required by natural ecosystems will intensify as water stress grows.

    Available freshwater resources are either ground-water or surface water rivers and lakes. Water that flows on the surface of the land is surface runoff. The relationship among surface runoff, precipitation, evaporation, and percolation is summarized in the following equation:.