What are water resources?
Water resources are the deposits and inputs of fresh water that, in different physical states and being available or potentially available, can be used by human beings to satisfy some need.
It is one of the great natural resources of planet Earth. It is essential not only to sustain life, but to preserve the physical-chemical balance of the planet.
The quantity and disposition of water resources varies greatly depending on geographic region. While in some places it is wasted, in others it is a particularly scarce commodity.
In addition, there are different polluting agents and activities that threaten the preservation of water, and that require constant measures to keep them at bay.
It is known that two thirds of the Earth’s surface is submerged, and that of that total water, 97.5% is contained in the seas and oceans, that is, it is salt water, the use of which requires additional activities such as desalination.
Therefore, only 2.5% of the planet’s water is fresh water and, in turn, of this percentage, 68.9% is contained in the planet’s polar caps and glaciers, and another 30.1% in the aquifer deposits found below the surface. Which leaves only 0.4% of surface fresh water available for direct use.
Types of water resources
Water from rivers and lakes is the easiest to access.
The water resources of a nation or a region can be found in different presentations, such as:
- Rivers and lakes. Accumulations of stagnant or flowing fresh water that irrigate the continental shelf. Rivers are born in the ice that melts at the top of mountains, and lakes are stagnations of said waters.
- Groundwater. Freshwater deposits underground, formed over long periods of time and with a greater or lesser degree of purity, depending on the underground environment in which they are found.
- Glaciers and perpetual snow. Water at certain heights or at certain altitudes is exposed to temperature levels that lead it to physically change, thus forming ice, perpetual snow or icebergs.
What are water resources used for?
Water resources, in principle, do not have a specific use, since they are natural resources. But they can be used by humans for a diverse set of activities, such as:
- Agriculture . For irrigation of plantations.
- Livestock. To feed the cattle.
- Chemical industry . To obtain hydrogen and oxygen, or to fuel other types of controlled chemical reactions.
- Urban consumption. That is, to bring fresh water to our homes with which to cook, shower or clean ourselves.
- Mining. To separate valuable components from the rest of the soil.
- Energetic industry. In hydroelectric or electric power plants, in which water vapor is used to generate electricity.