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WATER: ITS AVAILABILITY AND UTILITIES
The total volume of hydrosphere, that is, the collective mass of water found on, under and over the surface of the earth is distributed in the oceans (97.2%); in glaciers, ice caps and ice sheets (1.8%), ground water (0.9%), fresh water in lakes, inland seas and rivers (0.02%) and atmospheric water vapor (0.001%).
Ground water and fresh water are useful or potentially useful to humans as water resources. These imply that availability of water for human beings and the flora and fauna is limited.
How ever, most of it is contained in sea and ocean and saline and cannot be put to human use unless treated properly.
Desalination process is very expensive and third world countries would find it difficult. Water, available for human use, is a scarce commodity and we cannot survive with out it.
Hence human beings must judiciously utilize this sweet water.
Besides consumption by humans and other living organism for health and sustenance water has several uses in and as irrigation, industry, pollution con trol, chemical solvent, fire extinguisher, recreation, etc.
Water is considered a purifier of persons and places in most religions in terms of ritual washing/ablution, immer sion, ritual bath of the living and the dead, etc.
Sometimes people talk of the sacred or holy rivers like the Ganges and the Cauvery in India may be because of its multiple use and description in religious scriptures.
Cities and civilizations have also been associated with rivers (e.g. Mesopotamia along Euphrates and Tigris), waterways (Singapore, Suez), and seas as strategic places in trade (London), fertile basins (Nile) and resorts (Lankawi).
Water plays an important role in the world economy as it functions as a solvent for a variety of chemical substances and facilitates industrial cooling and transportation.
Approximately 70% of freshwater is consumed for agriculture, 20% for industry and 10% for domestic use Due to increasing awareness about health and sani tation,
growing population and requirements for industries there is increased demand for water. Water is both an economic good as well as a social good.
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