Category: General

Types of Water Resources

Around 71 percent of the earth’s surface is covered in water. This massive quantity of water is hard to visualize: the total water resources of the earth equal roughly 326 million cubic miles, with each cubic mile equal to around 1 trillion gallons of water. To imagine just one trillion gallons of water, try to picture 40 million swimming pools, or 24 billion baths. Now, multiply those numbers by 326 million!

Of all of this water, only about 2.5 percent is freshwater: the other 97.5 percent is saltwater. Almost 69 percent of freshwater resources are tied up in glaciers and ice caps, about 30 percent is groundwater, and a mere 0.27 percent is surface water. While all kinds of water resources are important for the survival of the planet, accessible freshwater is especially important for humans.

Saltwater Resources

Saltwater Intrusion Into Groundwater | Fluence

As mentioned, saltwater is abundant in the surface of the planet. However, saltwater is currently not particularly useful when it comes to potable water supplies. Desalination plants, while they do exist, are scarce because the energy required for desalination makes the process extremely expensive.

That said, there are saltwater resources from which humans benefit, aside from beautiful ocean views. Saltwater fish are a staple in much of the world’s diet (although overfishing and pollution has put much of the marine life population at risk). Furthermore, tidal waters are being used as a source of hydroelectric energy. So, while saltwater is not helpful in dealing with scarce water supplies, it does provide resources that humans rely on.

Groundwater Resources

Tropical groundwater resources resilient to climate change

Groundwater is the most plentiful of all freshwater resources. As water percolates into the ground through layers of soil, clay, and rock, some of it adheres to the topmost layers to provide water to plants. This water is in what is called the unsaturated, or vadose, zone. Most of the pores in the vadose zone are filled with air, rather than water.

Gravity continues to move the water down through the ground. Eventually, the water reaches the saturated zone, where all the pores are filled with water. The separation between the saturated and unsaturated zone is called the water table.

Aquifers are areas of permeable rock that hold water. Typically, aquifers are made of bedrock that has many fractures and connected pores, such as limestone, sandstone and gravel. Shale and clay layers are impermeable, and therefore make poor aquifers. An aquifer is “recharged” through precipitation from above percolating through the layers of soil and rock. Therefore, there is significant interaction between surface water and ground water.

In turn, groundwater feeds surface water through springs, and surface water can also recharge groundwater supply.

Most often, groundwater is accessed by humans via wells. To build a well, one must drill down past the water table. In most cases, a pump is placed in the bottom of the well, and it is pumped into homes, businesses and water treatment plants, where it is then dispersed. As water is pumped from the ground, a cone of depression forms around the well. The groundwater from the surrounding area moves towards the well. Wells can run dry during times of drought, or if surrounding wells are pumping too much water, causing the cone of depression to be large.

Water pumped from wells is generally very clean. The layers of soil, clay and rock acts as a natural filter. However, contaminants from nearby contaminated soils, leaky underground tanks, and septic systems can pollute a well, rendering it unusable. Furthermore, salt water intrusion can occur when the rate of pumping near a shoreline exceeds the rate of recharge. Saltwater gets pulled from the ocean into the cone of depression, and enters the well.

Subsidence, the gradual settling of the land due to continuous pumping and development, has also become an issue as groundwater is mined. This occurs when groundwater is pumped out faster than it can be replenished, and the sediment beneath becomes compacted. Subsidence is a permanent phenomenon. It can cause structural problems to foundations, an increased incidence of sinkholes and flooding problems. To top it off, subsidence is extremely costly. In some areas, such as the San Joaquin Valley in California, the land has subsided over 30 feet due to groundwater withdraw.

Surface Water Resources

What is surface water and what affects its availability? | American  Geosciences Institute

Surface water is the water that exists in streams and lakes. This water is primarily used for potable water supply, recreation, irrigation, industry, livestock, transportation and hydroelectric energy. Over 63 percent of the public water supply is withdrawn from surface water. Irrigation gets 58 percent of its water supply from surface water. Industry gets almost 98 percent of its water from surface water systems. Therefore, surface water conservation and quality is of the utmost importance.

Watershed organizations continuously measure the stream flow and quality of surface water. Stream flow is monitored to warn of flooding and drought conditions. Water quality is very important, as the majority of the water used in the United States comes from surface water. It is the measure of how suitable the water is from a biological, chemical and physical perspective. Water quality can be impacted negatively by both natural and human causes: electrical conductivity, pH, temperature, phosphorus levels, dissolved oxygen levels, nitrogen levels and bacteria are tested as a measure of water quality.

Water that runs off into the stream can naturally carry sediment, debris and pathogens. Turbidity, the measure of suspended sediment in a stream, is also a measure of water quality. The more turbid the water, the lower the water quality.

Manmade contaminants such as gasoline, solvents, pesticides, and nitrogen from livestock can wash over the land and can leach in to waterways, degrading the quality of nearby waters. The Clean Water Act in the United States protects the quality of the stream and issues fines to those contributing to the degradation in water quality. By protecting and conserving the water supply, there is a greater guarantee of future water resources for human use.

Categories: General

Thirsty? Here Are 9 Types of Water You Can Drink

You hear it all the time: You should be drinking more water. How much depends on the person, but generally speaking, staying well hydrated offers a host of health benefits. That includes higher energy levels and better brain function, just to name a few.

But not all water is created equal, with some being cheaper or providing more nutrients than others.

Here are the different types of water and what you should know about them.

Tap water

A piped water supply, tap water is found everywhere from the water that flushes a public toilet to the water that comes out of your kitchen sink or cleans your glassware in your dishwasher.

Pros

Though many people turn their noses up at the idea of drinking tap water over taste or safety concerns, the truth is that tap water is safe to drink across much of the United States.

What’s more, tap water isn’t only good for you, it’s cheaper than buying various types of bottled water.

Cons

While there are industry regulations in placeTrusted Source that are meant to keep lead and other harmful substances from contaminating the water supply, sometimes this doesn’t work. A prime example of this is the ongoing water crisis in Flint, Michigan.

Moreover, the Guardian reported on research showing plastic particles in tap water supplies around the world.

Public water supplies can also contain pesticide residuealuminum, and other undesirable substances. If, however, you’re worried that the treatments performed on your water supply aren’t up to par, you can always purchase a home filtration system for further cleansing

Mineral water

Pulled from a mineral spring, mineral water is, as the name states, full of minerals including sulfur, magnesium, and calcium — all things that are good for you.

Pros

Mineral water does indeed have some health benefitsTrusted Source, since it provides minerals your body can’t create on its own. It can also help aid in digestion, and many people even like the taste of it over tap water, though that’s down to personal preference.

Cons

One of the main downsides to mineral water is cost, especially when compared to tap water. Many of the minerals from this type of water can also be obtained from a healthy, varied diet.

Spring or glacier water

Spring or glacier waters are types of bottled waters that are claimed to be bottled at the source from where the water flows — either from the spring or glacier.

Pros

In theory, spring or glacier waters should be relatively clean and free of toxins. They also contain many of the same helpful minerals found in mineral water.

It also tends to be pretty readily available in stores, think well-known brands like Evian and Arrowhead, in both large and small bottles, which makes it easily accessible.

Cons

Depending on how much you drink, spring water could get pricey, especially in comparison to tap water. Also, some spring water is raw, unfiltered, and untested water, which could pose potential health risks depending on what it contains.

Sparkling water

Sometimes referred to as carbonated water or soda water, sparkling water is infused with carbon dioxide gas while under pressure.

Pros

Sparkling water offers a different mouth feel to flat water, which could be a welcome change if you want something fizzy without sugar or artificial sweeteners.

That said, there are flavored sparkling waters available that do contain one or both types of sweeteners. Plus, because sparkling water tends to be mineralized — think Perrier and San Pellegrino — you’re getting the added bonus of health-promoting minerals with your carbonation.

Cons

While there are some minerals present in sparkling water, there aren’t enough to be truly beneficial to your health in a meaningful way. In addition, it can be expensive compared to both tap and certain types of bottled water

Distilled water

This type of water is boiled and the steam is collected and condensed back into a liquid.

Pros

Distilled water is a great option if you live somewhere — or are visiting somewhere — where the tap water supply is contaminated or possibly could be.

Cons

As there are no vitamins and minerals in distilled water, there are no health benefits. In fact, it has the potential to be detrimental as non-mineralized water tends to pull minerals from where it can — in this case, your body, or specifically your teeth.

Purified water

Purified water is usually tap or groundwater which has been treated to remove harmful substances like bacteria, fungi, and parasites.

This means that drinking it is pretty much guaranteed to be safe.

Pros

Like distilled water, purified water is a great option if your immediate water source is contaminated. That said, many countries purify tap water, so you’re basically drinking purified water every time you fill a cup from your kitchen sink.

Cons

Because all potentially harmful substances are removed from purified water, you also miss out on some of the potentially beneficial ones that are added to tap water supplies like fluoride, which helps to reduce tooth decay.

In addition, purchasing purified water or even installing a filtration system at home can be pretty costly.

Flavored or infused water

Flavored water is water that’s sweetened with either sugar or artificial sweeteners, and contains natural or artificial flavorings.

Pros

Flavored water, like Hint and Propel, can offer a tasty alternative to plain water, which makes it easier to drink in larger amounts.

It can also add variation to your water intake since there are so many flavors available. Flavor can be added naturally by infusing fruit and vegetables into tap or bottled water, or you could purchase artificially flavored waters in most stores.

Cons

Often, flavored waters contain added sugar or artificial sweeteners. Varieties with sugar can lead to weight gain and have a negative effect on those with diabetes. What’s more, some people may react negatively to artificial sweeteners.

Alkaline water

Alkaline water has a higher pH level than normal tap water and contains alkaline minerals and negative oxidation reduction potential (ORP).

Pros

The fact that this type of water has a higher pH level has led some people to believe that it may help neutralize acid in the body, help slow the aging process, or even prevent cancer.

There’s very little scientific proof, however, of this being true.

Cons

It’s generally safe to drink alkaline water, but it could reduce stomach acidity, thereby lowering its ability to kill off harmful bacteria.

In excess, it could also lead to metabolic alkalosis, which could produce symptoms like nausea and vomiting.

 

Well water

Well water comes straight from the ground, though it’s untreated and carries with it a number of risks.

Pros

If you happen to live in an area where wells are plentiful, or you even have one in your own backyard, the convenient access to what seems like fresh water could be attractive.

While there are many proponents of raw, untreated water, the benefits may not outweigh the potential risks.

That said, there are steps you can take to ensure your well water is suitable for drinking. For example, testing your well water annually for bacteria, nitrates, and pH levels. It’s also possible to install a filtration system.

Cons

Because the water hasn’t been treated, there’s a big chance of contamination — particularly from bacterial and parasitic infections like giardia.

While well water used to be the norm, there’s a reason that city water supplies and the regulations surrounding them were put into place — you simply don’t know what you’re getting unless you test or treat the well water yourself.

The bottom line

While you may have a preference for which type of water is best, generally, there’s no one type that promises greater health benefits than the others.

So long as the water you’re drinking is clean and safe, the main focus is to make sure that you stay hydrated and to ensure you’re drinking enough water on a regular basis.

Categories: General

Different Types of Water Sources

Accessing the water you need might be as simple as turning on the faucet, but this isn’t ultimately where your water comes from. In fact, the Earth’s water supply comes from a series of different places—some you might expect, and others you might not. To fully understand the process of obtaining quality drinking water for your home, it’s crucial that you first know these sources. These are the different types of water sources around the globe and how they each play a role in what comes out of your home’s sink.

Surface Water Resources

Water on Animated GIF Images. 130 Beautiful GIFs for Free

Surface water resources are the most commonly used method of supplying water to various regions in the United States. This classification primarily includes rivers, lakes, streams, reservoirs, and wetlands—all of which contain freshwater rather than saltwater. These sources are easiest to filter, so they produce the highest-quality drinking water for the general public. Plus, another reason we mostly use these resources is their accessibility—many people live near large lakes or streams from which they can easily extract water. Surface water is therefore the most reasonable option for providing homes and businesses with the resources they need to function.

However, people commonly use rivers and lakes for recreational activities such as swimming and fishing; these places also play a part in the industrial manufacturing processes. As such, water from these sources requires extensive sterilization before it’s ready for consumption and use.

Groundwater Resources

Urban India Needs Zero Waste Approach To Mitigate Water Crisis – Odisha Bytes

Believe it or not, there’s actually a larger source of water underneath your feet than there is in all the rivers and lakes combined. However, we rarely get to tap into these sources due to how difficult they are to reach. Groundwater fills the cracks in bedrock and sand beneath the surface, making contaminants tedious to filter out in large quantities. These sources also saturate the soil and contain so much sediment that the water must undergo a thorough filtration process to even become drinkable. So, while groundwater is the main source of plant hydration, it’s not often a sustainable option for people. Fortunately, we aren’t completely cut off from groundwater sources—many of them feed some of our surface water supplies through underground springs.

Stormwater Resources

How Stormwater Affects Your Rivers | American Rivers

Otherwise known as runoff or rainwater, stormwater is water that comes from heavy weather such as rain, snow, and hail. This water flows over the land and, in the process, collects a variety of pollutants such as engine oil, fertilizer, and pesticides. As it picks up these contaminants, it eventually gathers in different areas, potentially combining with some of our other water sources. For this reason, stormwater—and water from any other type of source—must undergo a series of tests that properly identify and filter out dangerous toxins. In addition, since the majority of this water flows back into the oceans, capturing it beforehand is a great way to increase our overall water supply on land. For this reason, many sustainability experts have researched different ways to collect this water and filter it before it washes away.

Wastewater Resources

Water Pollution Facts, Types, Causes and Effects of Water Pollution | NRDC

You might not initially think of it as an option, but wastewater is another type of water source in the world. This is the water we use for our household, manufacturing, and agricultural activities; it’s then disposed of through our drains and local sewage systems. Because this water has already been used, it may contain several potentially toxic elements that must be filtered out and disposed of before the water can be used again. Unfortunately, while recycling water is a common practice in various communities, most wastewater still gets dumped in local surface water resources. This contaminates them and makes it even more difficult to filter out all the contaminants. For this reason, conservation efforts to stop businesses from dumping wastewater into lakes and rivers are on the rise. Preventing this practice better maintains the amount of water for us to live off of.

Saltwater Resources

Understanding saltwater intrusion through remote sensing

It’s common knowledge that our oceans make up over 70 percent of the planet. However, the salty, abrasive nature of this water makes using it for any of our current processes extremely difficult. In fact, the amount of salt present in ocean water makes it impossible for us to safely drink it in large enough quantities to survive. This is why we dominantly rely on freshwater sources to supply us with the water we need to drink. Fortunately, recent advances in filtration technology have yielded more effective ways to dilute saltwater and remove the acidity that prevents us from using it. Still, desalination plants are low in number due to the amount of energy this filtration process requires. Further evolution of these tools will make the process more sustainable and easier to repeat.

Ice Cap Water Resources

What causes the polar ice caps to melt? | Polar ice cap, Polar ice caps  melting, Nature

Shockingly, it’s theoretically possible for us to retrieve some water from the polar ice caps and glaciers. These large bodies of ice float through the oceans, but they actually consist of freshwater. This makes them some of our most ideal resources—if we can develop reliable ways to tap into them. Unfortunately, the glaciers are too far away for us to regularly utilize, and we have yet to come up with an effective way to meet them. The process of even reaching these territories is too much of an economical burden to be sustainable for long periods. In addition to this, the polar ice caps are crucial to regulating the Earth’s surface temperature. Going through the effort of melting them would ultimately throw our global temperatures out of balance and do more harm than good.

By appreciating these water sources, you can gain a further understanding of what it means to have clean, refreshing water to drink each day. The process water goes through to reach your faucet is a long one, and we at H2O Coolers want to better hone this process in your own home or office. Our bottle-less hot and cold water dispenser services in NYC not only purify any existing toxins from your water supply but also turn your water into meta-water. With our advanced filtration process, you can greatly increase the benefits you receive just from drinking your own tap water.

Categories: General