It’s so powerful it can carve landscapes in its path. Water is a vital part of our lives, we often forget that it’s a gift of nature and a requirement for life.
Water is one of the few substances on earth that can naturally be found in three different states:
Solid – as ice and snow
Liquid – as rivers, streams and oceans
Gas – in the air all around us
70% of the earth’s surface is covered by water, but most of it is salty and in the ocean. Only 3% of all water on the planet is fresh, with 2% of that locked in the polar ice caps. So drinkable water is a very precious resource.
The pull of gravity, electromagnetic forces and the sun’s energy keeps water moving continuously around the world. We call this the water cycle. This is an ancient process as the water that we are using today is the same water that has always been here.
The sun’s energy heats water in oceans, streams, lakes, soil and vegetation and it evaporates into the atmosphere as water vapour. The sun also causes snow and ice to melt and evaporate. As the water vapour rises into the air its temperature falls and the water vapour condenses into tiny droplets that form clouds. When these get too heavy the water droplets fall as snow, rain, and hail (this is known as precipitation).
In Britain we have many hills and these help push the clouds upwards, so we have plenty of rain - in some areas! Some rain filters into the ground to form ground water and some collects as run-off, which enters into streams and rivers that flow back to the sea.
Did you know there is a limited amount of fresh usable water on earth? Fortunately, this water is naturally recycled through the water cycle. At Northumbrian Water, we tap into this natural water cycle and clean the water so that it’s safe enough for you to drink and after you have used it, we clean it again so that it can rejoin the water cycle.