Freshwater-- What is the Issue?

by abriz1 on April 16, 2015 - 8:46pm

Freshwater is an incredibly important part of the ecosystem because of the goods and services it provides, as well as accommodating a unique and diverse biota (Heathwaite 2010).  Ecosystem goods that are given by freshwater include fish, electricity, and drinking water.  The ecosystem services consist of detoxification and purification of water, nutrient cycling, recreation, and flood mitigation.  There are many stressors that many say will have increasing impacts in the future, such as changing climate, changing land use, changing demands on water resources, and changing nutrient cycles.  Other global forces that have an impact on freshwater systems are growing populations, growing economies, and growing environmental insecurity.  The availability of freshwater is a large problem in many areas of the world, and these growing issues will only worsen it.  Only three percent of water on the earth is freshwater and only one percent of that is from lakes and rivers that is available for use.  Desalination is a solution for providing quality freshwater to places that do not have it and is a practical answer for the problem (Androwski  This method is when salts are removed from seawater (National Research Council 2008).  The most common process of desalination is reverse osmosis where hydraulic pressure forces seawater through a semi-permeable membrane and removes most of the dissolved salts and other impurities.



Androwski, J., A. Springer, T. Acker, and M. Manone.  2011. Wind-powered desalination: An estimate of saline groundwater in the United States.  Journal of the American Water Resources Association, 47.1: 93-102

Heathwaite, A.L. 2010.  Multiple stressors on water availability at global to catchment scales: understanding human impact on nutrient cycles to protect water quality and water availability in the long term. Freshwater Biology, 55: 241-257

National Research Council.  2008.  Desalination: A national perspective.  The National Academy of Sciences, Washington D.C., USA

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