Water for life

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By John Davisprimary school teacher and educational writer

Clean water is essential for everyone yet there are many people around the globe who only have access to contaminated water supplies

Water is the most common and most vital substance in the world. It is required for drinking, cooking, cleaning and growing crops. Although approximately 70 per cent of the Earth’s surface is covered in water, most of this is saltwater in seas and oceans, which is too salty to consume. Only 2.5 per cent of the Earth’s water supply is freshwater and only 1 per cent of this can be utilised because the rest is trapped in ice caps and glaciers.

Life’s essential source

Without water, life would not be possible. It is a necessity for the growth and survival of all living things. Yet, while developed countries such as the UK and USA have a continual supply of clean water, developing countries have very little clean water or – in some cases – contaminated supplies.

Clean water supplies

One of water’s most useful properties is its ability to dissolve other substances, but this can also have disadvantages. Natural sources of pure water are rare because water dissolves so many elements from the Earth’s atmosphere and surface. Drinking water must be made free from salt and bacteria. Too much salt can be harmful, and diseases such as typhoid and dysentery are caused by bacteria, so public water supplies are usually treated with chlorine to keep them safe.

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