71% of the Earth's surface is water. 96.5% of that water is saline and found in seas and oceans generating Earth's moniker 'The Blue Planet.' A further 0.9% of water (from ground water sources for example) is also saline. Of the 2.5% of the Earth's water that is freshwater, 69% of that is frozen in glaciers and ice caps, 30% of that is groundwater, and 1.2% is at the surface. Of the water that is at the surface or elsewhere (bodies of living things 0.26%, atmosphere 3%) 69 % is inaccessible as ground ice and permafrost, 2.6% is contained in swamps and marshes, while 20.9% is available in lakes and 0.49% is available to us in rivers (USGS). After a series of mind boggling calculations the figures show that 0.75% of the world's water is in ground water. Groundwater, replenished by precipitation, extracts naturally into springs, rivers, and lakes. Artificial extraction, through wells, requires more complex means to access and as such, we continue to depend on river and lake sources. As a result of drought and over withdrawal 21/37 of the world's largest aquifers "have past their sustainability tipping points"; more water is being removed than replaced (Frankel 2015).
Surface/other water accounts for 0.03% of the world's water, of which 21.39% is available in lakes and rivers, making 0.000077004% of the world's water available to supply 80% of human water needs; the remaining 20% comes from groundwater sources (Columbia Water Centre).
|This visual iterates these facts around the Earth's water.|
The freshwater we are so dependent on is used for three major purposes: industry, domestic purposes, and irrigation. Worldwide 70% of freshwater withdrawal is used in agriculture irrigation practices (FAO, AQUASTAT). IFAD lead technical specialist in water and rural infrastructure Mawira Chitima notes that there is increased competition locally and globally for water worldwide and that "there is a general shortage of freshwater." We "need better water efficiency, better water conservation methods, better catchment management and the promotion of technologies that improve water use efficiency" (n.a. 2015"'Water is critical to development' says IFAD expert." IFAD.org 21 August 2015).
Increasing populations, increasing urbanization, increasing consumerism, lead to increasing need and use of environmental resources such as water. Growing demands from increased manufacturing, electricity generation, domestic use, agricultural use are taxing water sources (UN World Water Development Report 2015 "Water for a Sustainable World" unesco.org).