What are water resources?

A water tower.

Water resources are usually sources of water that can be beneficial to people. Distinguishing between water and water resources is important because not all water that humans have access to is adequate for their needs. Humans generally need fresh water, and most of Earth’s water doesn’t fall into this category. Freshwater sources include lakes, rivers and ice caps.

A map of the polar ice caps, which contain much of Earth’s fresh water.

Potential water resources for humans are limited when compared to the total amount of water on Earth. Only 3% of Earth’s water is fresh. Although fresh water is distributed across the globe, most of it is frozen in the form of glaciers and ice caps. This makes most people on Earth dependent on rivers, lakes, and groundwater. These water resources are becoming objects of increasing problems.

Scientists have speculated about frozen water on other planets being able to support life.

At the same time, not much attention was paid to water resources for humans. In modern times, however, people are beginning to realize that the issue cannot be ignored. Emphasis on conserving and protecting these resources has grown in international efforts. This happened because some places are already facing water shortages. Experts predict problems for much larger portions of the population in the future if preventive measures are not taken.

As desalination techniques improve and become more cost-effective, saltwater could become a critical water resource.

There are several things that are responsible for present and impending water problems. Pollution, climate change and urbanization are some of the common examples. Climate change is taking a toll on resources, causing rivers and lakes to dry up. Many of these water resources have been used for centuries to support domestic and agricultural uses. Often, sustainable alternatives are not readily available.

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Tap water is a type of water resource.

Urbanization affects water resources because many cities are growing but their water supplies are not. More people living in a place means that the water needs of that place are greater. Unfortunately, it is not an option to make unlimited supplies of water available to them.

Pollution involves people fouling their water resources. Sometimes this is done by individuals and sometimes it is done by industrial entities. Dealing with pollution is often not simple. In some cases, even when it is technically possible, resources are lacking.

Salt water sources can, in some cases, be used as water resources. This is done through a process known as desalination, which involves removing salt from the water. This is an expensive process and not widely used. It is generally not promoted as a solution to water problems.

Many efforts are being invested by governments and civil society organizations to make people aware of issues involving water resources for humans. Often, tips and solutions are offered to educate people on how to change their habits. In general, it is believed that sustainable solutions must include efforts from all levels of society.

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