Where would Earth be without water? It’s simple, life wouldn’t exist. This extraordinary and versatile element nourishes all life – from flora to fauna. The liquid also helps fight the spread of everything from the common cold to Covid-19. What besides water could you drink to stay hydrated, thus boosting your immune system; and use in combination with soap to wash away harmful viruses and bacteria? There are many amazing facts about water – like how it’s a universal solvent. Or how it’s the only natural substance in liquid, solid, and gas form on Earth. Or how it’s neutral on the pH scale.
The industrial world runs on water. Water helps produce electricity. The bulk of water withdrawals in the U.S. – about 50 percent – are for thermoelectric power plants. These plants generate much of the country’s electricity. Water is also a vital component in agriculture – about 33 percent of water withdrawals irrigate farmlands. Another roughly 12 percent of water withdrawals are for public supply, which covers domestic, commercial, or industrial purposes.
Surprisingly, according to the U.S. Geological Survey, the United States water usage peaked at 430 billion gallons per day in 1980 despite the country’s population continuing to increase. Household appliances and fixtures such as dishwashers, washing machines, water heaters, and toilets have undergone designs to make them more water-efficient. Even with design and technology advancements, Americans still use a lot of water. On an average day, Americans will use about 88 gallons, according to the EPA. Almost half of that amount – 40 gallons – would be used for an eight-minute shower, according to the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. Washing a load of clothes uses up about 20-30 gallons of water.
Humans are water. Newborns are about 78 percent water. Adult men are about 60 to 65 percent water, while women, who have more fat on their bodies than men, are about 50 to 55 percent water. Since men’s bodies contain more water, they need to consume more water than women. The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine recommends men drink 15.5 cups daily, and women consume 11.5 cups. These intake amounts include beverages and food that contain water.
Water moves continuously throughout the Earth via the hydrologic cycle, with precipitation being a key factor. Precipitation affects how much water is available for drinking, irrigation, and industrial use. How much rain and snow the U.S. receives varies from year to year. In 2019, the contiguous United States received 34.78 inches, which is four inches above average, according to NOAA’s National Center for Environmental Information. It was also the second wettest year on record, behind only 1973. Despite that, 11 percent of the country experienced drought in 2019. NOAA has been keeping records on average temperatures since 1880. The top 10 warmest years on record all occurred within the last 15 years. Warmer temperatures increase evaporation, which increases overall precipitation. So, if the Earth continues to heat up, expect more rain in some areas while others, like the Southwest, will receive less.
Did you know that one inch of rain equals roughly 10 inches of average snow? Snowfall that accumulates year-round transforms into ice and eventually becomes a glacier. About 10 percent of the planet is covered by glacier ice, according to the National Snow & Ice Data Center. Glaciers make up roughly 69 percent of the freshwater on Earth. Global warming has caused glaciers to melt and sea levels to rise. If all the ice on Earth melted, sea levels would rise 230 feet worldwide.
While the Earth has one global ocean, there are five ocean basins: the Atlantic, the Pacific, the Indian, the Arctic, and the Southern or Antarctic Ocean. More than 97 percent of all water on Earth is from the ocean, according to the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. Saltwater is not drinkable unless its desalinated. Scientists around the world are working to make the desalination process less time consuming and more viable. Freshwater makes up about 2 percent of Earth’s water, and more than two-thirds of that is ice. Plus, if that water melts, it mixes with saltwater. The rest of Earth’s water is in rivers, groundwater, lakes, and in the atmosphere.
Since the dawn of humanity, people have settled along rivers and other freshwater sources for accessible drinking and bathing water. Rivers are also a way to transport goods and people. Many of the biggest cities in the world are along rivers. Calcutta, India, which lies along the Hugli River, is home to 14.85 million people. The Yangtze River basin in China is home to a whopping 1.4 billion people.
The Nile River runs from Egypt to Sudan at a length of 4,132 miles – making it the longest in the world. The Missouri River is 2,341 miles, stretching from the Rocky Mountains in Montana to St. Louis. The “Big Muddy,” AKA the Missouri River, not the Mighty Mississippi River, is the longest river in the U.S, despite what you may have learned in elementary school. The Mississippi River does have the greatest volume of water in the states.
Rivers are easier to measure than lakes and ponds, which are bodies of freshwater surrounded by land. Lakes are larger than ponds but there’s no set size definition for declaring what makes a lake or pond. The Great Lakes are the most well-known North American lakes. Bordering both the U.S. and Canada, Erie, Huron, Michigan, Ontario, and Superior, account for about 84 percent of the continent’s freshwater supply, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. The Great Lakes comprise about 1/5 of the world’s total surface freshwater.
Since water is such a vital resource, it makes sense that humans have perfected ways to store water beyond what nature provides. The Jawa Dam, the world’s oldest known dam, was built in about 3,000 BC in what’s now known as Jordan. Some dams constructed in the B.C. era are still in use. The Romans built their first aqueduct in 312 B.C. Elevated water tanks were first developed in the mid-19th Century. Early elevated water storage tanks were wooden. Steel tanks have been in fashion for more than one hundred years. Elevated water storage tanks can also be concrete and a mixture of concrete and steel.
Founded in 1919, Pittsburg Tank & Tower Group has built its reputation on being a steel tank fabricator. As a tank builder company, we can fulfill the customers’ tank specification needs for both ground storage tanks and elevated storage tanks. These tanks can store a variety of substances, including Earth’s most valuable resource – water.