Water is a key factor in determining economic and social development, and at the same time, it is a basic element for ecosystem protection. For this reason, it is essential to deal with water in an integrated manner. It is a powerful resource that we need in order to survive, and it is for this reason that everything possible must be done to maintain its quantity and quality. Water is responsible for creating, sustaining and maintaining life. However, we, as humans, have lost respect and care for this basic element of our existence.
The most outstanding characteristics of water resources are the following:
Water resources are used in two ways: for consumptive use and for non-consumptive use. Within consumptive use we can mention the following uses:
Non-consumptive water use includes the following:
There are several types of water resources, for example: oceans, rivers, lakes, streams, groundwater, seas.
The importance lies in the fact that water is a fundamental requirement for life on our planet. All organisms on Earth are composed primarily of water. Without water, biological organisms would not be able to complete the basic physiological processes that sustain life. It is an integral part of the Earth’s biogeochemical process that creates and sustains our environment. Consequently, water is an essential resource for many human activities necessary to sustain our current society; agriculture, industry and transportation are just a few of the countless human activities that require water.
Knowing the availability of water resources helps us to consider and maximize water uses. It is important for aquatic species to survive and for human use. Some ways to improve water availability are: through rainwater harvesting, a technique used mainly in Asia; recharging overexploited aquifers to make better use of water by creating wells and pumping stations. Reservoirs are another method that has been built to achieve water storage and use for irrigation and drinking water supply.
Different human activities are primarily responsible for water resources problems. Pollution damages these resources and mismanagement of activities, mainly agriculture pollutes surface and groundwater. The construction of badly located buildings and roads damages the natural sources of water. Another major problem is the over-exploitation of resources as more water is extracted and wasted than can be recovered. Finally, climate change increases resource problems, mainly in areas where it is already depleted. Global warming and extreme climate changes also cause severe damage to aquifers.
Water resources can be cared for following basic prevention measures, not throwing garbage in rivers, seas and lakes, avoiding unnecessary expenditures of liquid for both industrial and household uses, decreasing the indiscriminate deforestation, helping to combat global warming. There are many resources available to start protecting this vital liquid for life.