Unit 8 Water

What is water used for where you live?
Water (from the Anglo-Saxon and Low German word, wæter) is a colourless, tasteless, and odourless substance that is essential to all forms of life that we know of.
There is a lot of water on our planet, and it exists in many places and forms: mostly in oceans and polar ice caps, but also as clouds, rain water, rivers or freshwaters. Water is continuously moving through the cycle of evaporation, precipitation, and runoff, back to the sea.
All known forms of life need water. Humans consume “drinking water” – water which has qualities compatible with the human body. Ordinary rain water in many countries is polluted and therefore not safe to drink. This natural resource has become scarce with the growing world population, and its availability is a major social and economic concern.
Water takes many different shapes on the earth: water vapor and clouds in the sky, waves and icebergs in the sea, glaciers in the mountain, and aquifers in the ground, to name but a few. Through evaporation, precipitation and runoff, water is continuously flowing from one form to another, in what is called the water cycle.
Because of the importance of precipitation to agriculture, and to mankind in general, we give different names to its various forms: while rain is common in most countries, other phenomena are quite surprising when seen for the first time: hail, snow, fog or dew for example. In many African countries, snow is, for example, a very rare phenomenon. When appropriately lit, water drops in the air can refract the beautiful colours of a rainbow.
Similarly, water runoffs have played major roles in our history: rivers and irrigation supplied the water needed for agriculture. Rivers and the seas offered opportunity for travel and commerce. Through erosion, runoffs played a major part in shaping our environment providing river valleys and deltas which provide rich soil and level ground for the establishment of population centers.
Water also infiltrates the ground and goes into aquifers. This groundwater later flows back to the surface via springs, or more spectacularly via hot springs and geysers. Groundwater is also extracted artificially from wells.
Because water can contain many different substances, it can taste or smell very differently. In fact, we have developed a way to evaluate the drinkability of water: we avoid the salty seas and the putrid swamps, and we like the fresh pure water of a mountain spring.
Is water an issue where you live?
What are some ways communities can re-use water and use water efficiently in parks, landscaping, and public buildings?
Uses for Recycled Water
  • agriculture
  • landscape
  • public parks
  • golf course irrigation
  • cooling water for power plants and oil refineries
  • processing water for mills, plants
  • toilet flushing
  • dust control,
  • construction activities
  • concrete mixing
  • artificial lakes
What are specific ways people can reduce water use at home?
1. Use a Shower Bucket
The shower bucket is probably the simplest way to recycle water at home. When you turn on the tap for your shower, the water that comes out takes some time to heat up to a comfortable temperature. Next time you’re warming up the shower, stick a bucket under the running tap until you’re ready to get in. You’ll be surprised at how much water you collect!

2. Install a Rain Barrel
Skip that whole municipal water system for watering your garden and collect rainwater instead. Rain barrel setups can be super simple or more complicated, depending on how much time you can invest and how handy you are. The best collection method that I’ve found is setting up the barrel underneath your gutter’s downspout, so it collects the most water when it rains.

3. Create a Rain Garden
Rain gardens take advantage of land’s natural water runoff to nourish the plants that live there. Unlike a regular garden that needs watering, a rain garden is constructed so that it reuses water that would otherwise run off into the sewage systems. The bonus is that by diverting that water from the storm drain, you’re giving your city’s overtaxes sewage system a break.

4. Save that Pasta Wate
Next time you’re making a pot of pasta, don’t dump all of that precious water down the drain! Instead, set your colander over another large pot to collect all of that precious H2O. Once the water has cooled, you can use it on your garden or to water your house plants.

 5. Save Water from Washing Veggies
Just like when you’re boiling pasta, washing veggies uses water that’s totally re-usable. Place your colander over a large pot to collect the water while you’re washing. You can use your collected water on the garden or for flushing the toilet.

6. Install a Gray Water System
Gray water is waste water that doesn’t contain sewage. Think the water that goes down the drain when you wash your hands or do laundry. A gray water system diverts that water, so it doesn’t go to waste. A good example might be diverting water from your shower drain for flushing the toilet. Grey water systems can get pretty complicated, and just like any plumbing setup, they do require maintenance.

7. Collect the Overflow from Watering Plants
When you water your potted plants, have you noticed that extra water usually runs out of those drainage holes at the bottom of the pot? Don’t let that water go to waste! Place your plants in deep trays to collect that water. You can use the runoff from your larger plants to water the smaller ones.

8. Reuse Excess Drinking Water
Got an almost-empty water glass that’s been sitting out too long to drink? Feed it to a thirsty house plant instead! You can also use unsweet tea on your plants. If the drink that’s been sitting is sweetened, you can pour it on plants in the garden, but don’t use it on house plants unless you like ants!

What are other ways of possibly getting access to water besides desalinization (removing salt form sea water), or taking advantage of melting ice caps?