The Ultimate Recyclable: Texas Aquatic Science- Chapter 2

When you think of water, maybe you see it
in a glass. You might imagine it in a lake. Or you might think of raindrops. But have
you thought of where all this water comes from? You may be surprised to know that your water
has probably been around the block a few times. That’s right. You might be taking a shower
with the same water you used last year. And how is that possible? Well, for three and a half billion years,
the earth’s water has been moving from streams to lakes to oceans, flowing underground, freezing
on mountaintops and forming the clouds we see in the sky. And all this moving and shifting around of
water is one of the largest recycling efforts by mother nature. It’s called the hydrologic
cycle and it’s the driving force behind the weather we experience everyday. Here’s how
it works. When the sun warms the water on the Earth’s
surface, that water turns into invisible water vapor. This process is called evaporation.
And every time water evaporates, it leaves behind whatever salts, pollutants or other
impurities were in it before becoming pure again. How did all that stuff get in there anyway? Well that may be because water is the universal
taxi cab for pollutants. When water returns to the earth as precipitation, whether as
rain, snow, sleet or hail, it may make several stops to pick up riders like pesticides, chemicals,
trash and yes even bacteria from something dead. Did you know – every year over half
of the four point two billion gallons of precipitation that falls on the continental United States
evaporates immediately after returning to earth? Talk about “return to sender.” All the rest of that precipitation becomes
either surface water or ground water. The weather will always impact how we get our
water. But thank goodness it will never change the amount of water we have on earth. We just
need to get wiser about nature’s water recycling program and do our part to make sure everyone
has enough for life.

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