“Water, water everywhere, nor any drop to drink.”
This is a line from a poem called The Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, written in 1834. This particular line is said by a sailor on a ship as he looks out onto the sea, which is full of water, but water that he can’t drink.
The sentiment may strike as interesting within the poem, but it may become a reality for us soon.
Water covers 97% of our planet and yet only 3% of it is potable or drinkable. You may have seen people fighting a shortage of water in your locality or even in your own homes. It’s mind-boggling to think that the thing we need the most, apart from oxygen, is actually only available in such little quantities. So, the question, “Will we ever run out of water?” is a very good one to consider, particularly today. March 22 is honoured as World Water Day every year, an observance established by the United Nations. It is a day to spread awareness about the world’s freshwater resources. Let’s try to answer that question today.
The short answer to the question is, no, we won’t run out of water any time soon. The Earth has always had a set amount of water and it will continue to have that amount of water. The majority of all water (65%) is frozen in the form of glaciers, which are concentrated in the Arctic Circle. The rest is made up of the oceans, seas, and rivers. Only 1% of the water from freshwater bodies like rivers and streams are drinkable, while only 0.3% of groundwater is consumable.
All of these water bodies contribute to the water cycle, which in turn brings rain and replenishes all these water bodies and the Earth. Our planet also conserves water in the atmosphere and doesn’t let it escape into space.
As long as this cycle continues, we will not run out of water. However, we may come very close.
While the amount of clean water is limited, the population of the Earth is not. The population of the world increases at an average of 1.05% per year, which is approximately 81 million new people every year. The demand for clean water increases while the supply remains the same, which leads to a severe scarcity of water.
Additionally, half the world’s freshwater can only be found in six countries. This creates a challenge for accessibility as billions of people struggle to get clean water even today.
Accessibility is one major problem but the other is pollution and wastage. Freshwater rivers and streams are often polluted by man-made trash — be it the plastic water bottle that someone threw into a river or the toxic waste that factories dump into water bodies. This not only kills aquatic life such as plants and fish but also makes the water undrinkable.
Pollution also contributes to climate change and global warming. This in turn affects the seasons. Many countries like India depend on the monsoon season to get their supply of freshwater. With the change in seasons, droughts have increased and the amount of rainwater has drastically reduced due to which the amount of water getting replenished also reduces.
Not all is lost, however. There are many conservation measures that are being undertaken by governments and individuals. You can, too, do your bit to conserve more water. Shutting off taps whenever you can, regulating when the plants are being watered, practising rainwater harvesting, are just some of the things we can do to contribute towards a future with fresh water.
What do you think is the most effective way to conserve water? Let us know in the comments.
Read more about water and what we can do to conserve it on Knowledge Vine:
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