Streams, rivers and lakes provide habitat for certain types of aquatic plants, fish, insects and birds. Some of these organisms need very pure freshwater.
Almost all organisms on Earth today contain at least 50% water in their bodies. Living things use water to transport nutrients, hormones and oxygen to their cells, cleanse waste from their systems and cool their bodies.
Humans have many uses for freshwater. The way we use freshwater is usually divided into three groups:
Irrigation is probably the most important use of water. Nearly 70% of all freshwater used in the world is for agricultural purposes, like irrigating crops or managing livestock.
About 20% of freshwater is used for industries that produce things like metals, wood, paper products, chemicals, petrol and oil. For example, it takes about 50,000 litres of water to make a car and about 200 litres to make one newspaper. One of the larger industrial water users is electrical generation.
The remaining 10% of freshwater is used for indoor and outdoor household purposes – all the things we do at home like drinking, cooking, cleaning, and watering the garden.
Wastewater is ‘used’ water from homes, industries, and businesses. It must be treated before it is released back into the environment. Our own health and the health of the environment rely on treating wastewater and sewage before releasing it back into the environment.
It costs money to treat water both before and after household use. The less water we use at home, then the less money councils and taxpayers must spend treating water. It pays to think carefully before using water at home.
It we all use water wisely we can make sure that there is enough clean freshwater to support people as well as native plants and animals.