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A Drop in the Bucket

Water, water everywhere, but not a drop to drink...

We live in a place where water is everywhere. We have lakes, ponds, streams, and ocean. We don't have to travel far to find a place to cool down in. But how much of this water is safe to drink?

Let's start by considering how much of the Earth is covered with water - about 75%.

Where is that water located? In oceans, lakes, ponds, rivers, wetlands, ice caps, glaciers, in the atmosphere, in plants and animals, in the soil (aquifers).

The majority of the water on earth is in the oceans - around 97%. It is much too salty to drink. There are ways of desalinating it, but they are expensive and time consuming.

That leaves 3% as fresh water. If all the water on earth was represented by 1000mL (the size of a typical nalgene bottle), then 970mL would be salt water and 30mL would be fresh water.

Out of that 30mL, how much is locked up as ice or in the atmosphere? About 25mL.

That means that only 5mL or less than 1% of the water on earth is fresh and accessible for use by all living things.

And how much of that is clean enough to grow food with and drink? Only about one drop out of 1000mL!

Water is a precious resource, especially clean, drinking water. And although it is abundant where we live, water is scarce in many places. It is not distributed evenly over the earth. And every living things needs water to survive. It must be shared, conserved, and kept clean for life to continue.

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