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Chapter_20 - Chapter20 Environment Water Introduction Water...

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Chapter 20 Environment &  Water Introduction Water is the single most essential substance needed to support life on this planet and possibly in the entire physical universe. It would undoubtedly be easier for life to evolve to use an energy molecule other than ATP than it would be for life to evolve to not need water. Because of this it is essential that we
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manage our water supply in such a way that we always have access to plenty of clean potable (drinkable) water.
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Water Supply About 4.35 trillion gallons fresh water (rain & snow) fall to earth every day in continental US. A little over 70% of this water evaporates back into air, and additionally, a bit under 20% of this water drains into Gulf of Mexico (via Mississippi River) each day. This leaves about 10% of daily rainfall (450 billion gallons) available to us as drinking water. PROBLEM 5. Where does most of the water go? @ Evaporation. When rainwater hits the ground and adds to rivers & lakes, forms puddles, floods streets, etc. it is called surface water . When surface water soaks into (under) ground it called groundwater . PROBLEM 6.
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How's rainwater become groundwater? @ Soaks into ground.
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Water Consumption In 1950 we were consuming about 45% of the available water in continental US. By 1980 we were consuming almost 96% of the available daily water supply in the continental US. Obviously some (drier) parts of US (ie. California) were consuming water much faster than it could be recharged while other parts of US (ie. Louisiana) were still in good shape. This situation led to depletion of many underground aquifers, resulting in some bizarre consequences (sinkholes, brackish water, people putting water table markers on utility poles, loss of rapids in Colorado River, etc.). Due to emerging imbalance in supply/demand for fresh water in 1980's many state legislatures started passing tough water-conservation laws, and by 1994 US was
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only using about 21% of available water.
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Water Pollution Water pollution sometimes hard to define. Best definition probably involves any human- caused or unusual natural change made to body of water making it unfit for some particular purpose. We don't consider ocean water polluted even though it's unfit to drink because it's normally unfit to drink. If someone spills oil on ocean making it unfit for birds and fish to live in/on we call the result pollution.
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