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Taking care with water

Ask your teacher about the big drought we had from 1997 – 2009. Eight out of ten Australians were on water restrictions. Some of us even stopped watering our driveways. The rains have returned. But they seemed to have washed away our efforts to save water. Most of our drinking water comes from rivers that feed into dams. Some comes from boreholes that drill into underground water supplies. When we take water for irrigation to grow food it cannot be used in rivers and wetlands. It’s a careful balance of nature. How do we get this balance right? What is the best way to use water?

Where does water come from?

Water comes from the sky when it rains. How did it get there to start with? Water comes from water. It’s a part of the water cycle and is always on the move. Our sun evaporates water from our oceans, lakes and rivers. This water vapor joins together in the sky to form clouds. The clouds drop rain and the cycle starts again. In the Amazon Rainforest most water comes from the trees. They send water vapor into the sky to form new clouds and more rain. The more forest you have the more rain you get. All life depends on water.

What forms of water produce least pollution?

In the olden days most houses had water tanks to capture the rain that fell on the roof. This water was used for cooking, cleaning and drinking. Many farms still have windmills that pump water from underground. We now rely water supplies coming from one place – usually a dam. This water flows out of the tap whenever we need it. The most polluting way to collect water is from a desalination plant (De-Sal). They use huge amounts of energy to turn salt water into fresh water. Scientists are working on ways to turn salt water into fresh. They are using wave energy to pump salt water from the ocean to the shore. They filter out the salt and create clean energy at the same time.

How can we tell which products are helpful and use less water?

Explore ways of reducing water waste. You may have trouble working out if the products are any good. Don’t believe everything you read. One way to create less waste is to buy less packaged water. Even try less sweet and fizzy drink bottles. Who would pay $3-$4 dollars for something we can get from the tap just about for free? Do we recycle any water? Is there anyone out there helping people with good advice?

Is Australia doing a good job of saving water?

water-sprinklerWe can be less wasteful with water. The great thing about water is that it can be used over and over again forever. The water you drink today may be part dinosaur wee. There is no real shortage it’s just often in the wrong place at the wrong time (floods and drought). Water needs a lot of energy and is expensive to move around. We have shown what a great job we can do when we want to save water. How we can use these good habits all the time? Why aren’t more people taking this challenge more seriously?

What can we do?

We can’t ignore the greater demands for water. Farmers want water for crops, rivers need water for life. How much water can we take out of a river? How much should we take out? Is it the same if you live upstream or downstream? If we plan for the future will it be easier later? We can take action to be less wasteful with water. How can we get our school to use less water? Is your family interested in getting smarter about water? Do we really need another drought to get our attention?