Water is constantly travelling around our planet. It′s powerful and carves out landscapes. Water is a vital part of our lives and we often take it for granted and forget that water – a gift of nature – is life.
Water is amazing and is one of the few substances on earth that can be found naturally in three states:
|SOLID - as ice and snow
||LIQUID - as rivers, streams and oceans
||GAS - in the air all around us
Water covers 70% of the earth’s surface but most of it is salty and in the oceans and seas. Only 3% of all the water on the planet is fresh with 2% of it being locked in the polar ice caps and not available for us to use, this makes drinkable water a very precious resource.
The water cycle
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, consequently 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.
Clean safe water
There is a limited amount of fresh usable water on earth. Fortunately the 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 we can safely return it to the environment to rejoin the water cycle.