Percentage Of Drinkable Water On Earth – Answering the question about the percentage of drinking water on Earth by providing data available on NGOs, scientific research and related government websites. Discuss the hydrological cycle and the various sources of clean water around the earth. Addressing the problems of lack of clean water among poor areas.

326 million cubic miles of endless blue seas occupy the space between our seven continents and make up 70% of the Earth’s surface (Bureau of Reclamation, 2017).

Percentage Of Drinkable Water On Earth

With only 5 percent of the ocean floor discovered and mapped, and with the deepest part reaching 7 miles, water appears to be as plentiful as it is ominous.

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However, if consumed, it does not take much of the mineral-rich ocean to dehydrate the human body. The amount of sodium in seawater is much higher than the body can safely process and requires more water due to salt intake. Ultimately, death occurs as a result of dehydration without ever quenching thirst (Ocean Service).

Of the waters that occupy 70% of the earth’s surface, only 3% is considered fresh water. And much of this fresh water supply is inaccessible to humans — locked in polar ice caps or stored too far below the surface to be mined. In addition, much of the accessible fresh water is heavily polluted.

This leaves approximately 0.4% of the Earth’s potable water to be shared among its 7 billion inhabitants (World Atlas, 2018).

And yet, many of those 0.4% are hard to come by. Most of it flows through underground aquifers that can be accessed by digging wells. The rest is found in rivers and streams that we refer to as surface water. Much of the world’s population has difficulty accessing such a small percentage of fresh water on Earth’s surface (Perlman, 2016).

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The US Geological Survey provides a visual representation (shown as a sphere) of the amount of water available compared to the size of the Earth.

The largest sphere represents all the water on Earth (oceans, ice caps, lakes, rivers, groundwater) and has a volume of 332,500,000 cubic miles.

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The second largest sphere, with a volume of 2,551,100 cubic miles, represents Earth’s source of fresh water in liquid form. 99% of liquid freshwater is groundwater, much of which is too deep to be accessed.

Earth’s remaining freshwater is in lakes and rivers, represented by the smallest sphere with a volume of 22,339 cubic miles (Perlman, 2016).

All Of Earth’s Water In A Single Sphere!

Because surface water is easier to access, it is the most common way for humans to access purified water. Globally, we use about 321 billion gallons of surface water and about 77 billion gallons of groundwater every day. Contamination of these water sources is a problem that further limits access (Groundwater Association, 2012).

Surface water is any volume of water that is on the surface of the earth: lakes, rivers, streams and reservoirs. 80% of daily water consumption in the world comes from surface water, and most of the water used for irrigation and public supply. The oceans are the world’s largest source of surface water, accounting for 97% of it, but due to high salinity, it is unusable for humans (Postel, 2010).

Earth’s surface water moves through a complex network of flowing rivers and streams. Rivers can get their water from two sources: base flow and runoff. Base flow is when a river collects its water from water-saturated areas on the ground and adds to its volume. Runoff is when gravity naturally pulls water downward from higher elevations to lower elevations. They usually begin as small streams in the mountains and then gradually merge with larger streams downstream, eventually forming large rivers that empty into the ocean.

Groundwater is water below the surface of the earth that is 100% saturated. Anything less than 100% soil is considered mixed. 98% of fresh water on earth is actually underground water and it is 60 times more abundant than surface water. Groundwater passes through holes and cracks in the bedrock. The amount of rock space and the ability of water to pass through it is known as porosity and permeability. Groundwaters with high porosity and permeability values ​​can move quickly and are known as aquifers. A high-pressure aquifer can cause the groundwater table to reach the surface after a well is drilled (Groundwater Association, 2012).

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Water is in the form of liquid, gas and solid, and it cycles in them, which is known as the hydrological cycle of the earth. When water evaporates, the liquid molecules turn into gas molecules that rise into the atmosphere. Condensation begins when the humidity of these gas molecules increases so much that they fall back to the ground in the form of precipitation. Because the process of evaporation, condensation, and precipitation has essentially “distilled” the water, it is considered clean before it hits the ground. When precipitation reaches the ground, it collects in aquifers, rivers, or lakes, ready for reuse. Glaciers and ice cover 10% of the world’s mass and are mainly found in Greenland and Antarctica. They are the fresh water reservoirs of the world.

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263 There are countless rivers and aquifers around the world that either cross or define geopolitical boundaries. The Atlas of the International Freshwater Agreement states that 90% of the world’s countries share these water resources with at least one or two other governing bodies. Darfur crimes are an example of conflicts caused by the lack of clean water.

• Violence erupted in 1992 over a dispute between Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan over the disputed Tyvemion reservoir. This water source is highly contested in the region today (factbook).

• In 2010, dozens of people were killed in Pakistan’s tribal region due to a water dispute that lasted more than two weeks. According to a senior government official in Karam district, which borders Afghanistan, the Mangal tribe stopped irrigating the lands belonging to the Turi tribe. A total of 116 people were killed and 165 people were injured (CNN, 2010).

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• Four farmers in northeastern Tanzania were hacked over the disputed Pangani River Basin in 2013 (Factbook).

• In 2016, 18 people were killed and 200 injured as the Indian army clashed with economic protesters around the highly contested Monak Canal, a water source that supplies three-fifths of New Delhi’s fresh water (Factbook).

• Drought conditions in major parts of Somalia often force herders to sell more of their livestock than they can afford. This economic instability fuels recruitment for militia groups such as al-Shabaab, which provide cash incentives and other benefits to their soldiers. Other illegal activities such as piracy and livestock raiding are considered reasonable alternatives to reducing the stability of animal herding (Factbook).

Water is limited. The amount of water circulating in the Earth’s hydrologic cycle is the same amount as it has been since Earth’s creation, not a drop more or less. What has changed is the number of people on earth and thus the amount of drinking water needed for human sustenance. The United Nations reports that in the last century alone, water consumption has increased at more than twice the rate of population growth.

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70% of the Earth is covered by water, but only 3% is fresh. Of this 3%, 2.6% is locked in glaciers and polar ice caps. This makes us have 0.4% of the earth’s water in the form of rivers and underground aquifers to use for our consumption and social development. Not surprisingly, in developing regions where clean water sources cross national borders, it often finds itself in conflict between those trying to obtain the means to live a healthy life.

Since humans are 60% water, our natural instinct may be to fight for it. But by working together to find ways to access the pristine groundwater beneath us, help sustain clean water use, and prevent further pollution of clean water sources, it is possible for all people to have access to clean water.

Thank you for taking the time to read our article in response to this question: What is the percentage of drinking water on Earth? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below. If you found this article useful and are interested in learning more, be sure to sign up for our newsletter.

I am Jeremiah, owner of World Water Reserve. I am a writer and researcher with a special interest in sustainability and rural life, water scarcity and innovative water purification methods. I use my multimedia and communication experiences in NGO and humanitarian fields to shed light on important issues. My passion is to educate others about the reality of the global water crisis and ways to protect themselves and their families in the midst of it.

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