Little of Earth's water is usable freshwater
Water is vital to every living creature on earth. Even though we are the blue planet, our fresh water supply on earth is fixed. The earth is a closed system, which means that the same water that existed on Earth millions of years ago is still here. Water exists in many forms on earth, and is continually cycling through these different forms: oceans, glaciers, ground water, clouds, lakes and rivers to name a few.
What most people don't realize is how little of this water is actually usable freshwater. Of all the earth's water, 97 percent of it is ocean salt water and less than 3 percent of it is fresh water. Of this small amount of freshwater, 68.7 percent of it is frozen up in ice caps and glaciers, 30.1 percent of it is ground water and only 0.3 percent of it is surface water, which includes lakes and streams. The remaining 0.9 percent is water in other forms.
Water supply and water use can be a contentious subject. It most certainly will only get more contentious in the future. As the earth's population increases our water use increases, and the pristine water reserves get used. About 74 percent of the freshwater used in the United States in 2000 came from surface-water sources. The other 26 percent came from ground water. This is another great reason to protect lake and stream water quality.
We can all learn to use our freshwater resources more wisely, and that starts with our water use at home. Here are a few relatively easy ideas to implement at home to conserve water. You can find many more ideas at http://www.wateruseitwisely.com/.
Run your clothes washer and dishwasher only when they are full, this can save up to 1,000 gallons of water a month. Choose native shrubs and groundcovers, instead of turf, for hard-to-water areas such as steep slopes and isolated strips. Water your lawn and garden in the morning or evening when temperatures are cooler to minimize evaporation. For cold drinks keep a pitcher of water in the refrigerator instead of running the tap. This way, every drop goes down you and not the drain. Monitor your water bill for unusually high use. Your bill and water meter are tools that can help you discover leaks.
To learn more about the earth's water supply and usage, you can visit: http://ga.water.usgs.gov/edu/earthhowmuch.html.
Enjoy the lakes!