One of the things I do in my work is study water quality, what affects it and how to fix it. Limnologists define water quality in terms of its chemical, physical and biological properties. There's no magic bullet to measure water quality; we use several measurements in a kind of weight-of-evidence approach. Water quality is somewhat subjective, based on perspective. For instance water used for drinking can be used for irrigation but not all water used for irrigation is potable or will meet drinking water standards. A common phenomenon that limnologists study is something called "eutrophication". Eutrophication describes the natural process of aging for a lake or pond, with the gradual input of nutrients and sediment from erosion and precipitation. When the process is sped up through the release of nutrients and industrial and municipal effluent and poor land use practices, then we have a problem. Enhanced eutrophication is characterized by algal blooms (that scummy layer on the surface), excessive weeds, increased pests and fish kills.
Here are a few facts about water that might interest you:
- Some very simple organisms can survive without air, but none can grow without water.
- About 83% of our blood is water. It helps digest our food, take in oxygen, transport body wastes, and control body temperature.
- Freshwater lakes, rivers and underground aquifers hold only 3.5% or the world's water. Saltwater oceans and seas hold most of the rest.
- 30% of the earth's fresh water exists as ice in the form of glaciers and ice caps.
- Canada has more lake area than any other coutnry in the world.
- 10 litres of water is needed to manufacture 1 litre of gasoline.
- 1000 kilograms of water is required to grow 1 kilogram of potatoes.
- One litre of oil can contaminate up to two million litres of water.
- Many homes lose more water from leaky taps than they need for cooking and drinking.
Nina Munteanu is an ecologist and internationally published author of novels, short stories and essays. She coaches writers and teaches writing at George Brown College and the University of Toronto. For more about Nina’s coaching & workshops visit www.ninamunteanu.me. Visit www.ninamunteanu.ca for more about her writing.