chemistry-geographyNo Comments


Water is one of the most vital natural resources for all life on earth. The availability and quantity of water have always played an important part in determining not only where people can live, but also their quality of life. Even though there always has been plenty of fresh water on earth, water has not always been available when and where it is needed, nor is it always suitable for all uses. Water must be considered as a finite resource that has limits and boundaries to its availability and sustainability for use.

Where water supply is limited, conflicts may result between and among the various uses. The balance between supply and demand for water is a delicate one. The availability of usable water has and will continue to dictate where and to what extent development will occur. Water must be in sufficient supply for an area to develop, and an area cannot continue to develop if water demand far exceeds supply. Water has numerous uses in life. The following are some of the uses of water:

(a)Domestic use: Domestic water use is probably the most important daily use of water for most people. It includes water that is used in the home every day including water for normal household purposes such as washing clothes and dishes, drinking, bathing, food preparation, flushing toilets, and watering lawns and gardens, etc.

(b)Biological uses: Water is essential to life. Most of the reactions in animals and plants take place in solutions in water. Plants absorb minerals from the soil in solution form. Animals and plants are found near or in areas where water can be found.

(c) Industrial uses: Water is a valuable resource to the nation’s industries for such purposes as processing, cleaning, transportation, dilution, and cooling in manufacturing industries. Major water-using industries include cloth, steel, chemical, paper, and petroleum refining. Industries often reuse the same water repeatedly for more than one purpose. Water is used as a solvent in many industrial processes. It is also used for cooling certain parts of machines.

(d) Irrigation scheme: Water is artificially applied to farm, orchard pasture, and horticultural crops, as well as leaching of salts from the crop root zone in sodic soils. Non-agricultural activities include self-supplied water to irrigate public and private flower gardens, loans, football pitches, etc. Crop production in areas that receive little rainfall per year can be achieved through the practice of irrigation. Water for irrigation purposes can be drawn from rivers, lakes, swamps and even from seas.

(e) Water as a solvent: Water is regarded as a universal solvent. It dissolves almost all substances. For this reason, it is used for dissolution of chemicals ranging from poisonous chemicals used in agriculture to non-poisonous chemicals used in hospitals, laboratories, research stations and for other general purposes.

(f) Cooling and heating: Due to its high specific heat capacity, water is used as a coolant for cooling automobile engines and other machines. Hot water is used during winter for heating homes in temperate countries. In higher plants, evaporation causes a cooling effect and therefore helps to cool plant organs. During hot weather, some animals tend to wallow in water in order to cool their bodies either through evaporation or by water itself.

(g) Livestock uses: This includes water for stock animals, feedlots, dairies, fish farms and other non-farm animals. In arid regions of Tanzania, the Government has constructed dams to supply water to cattle, and for some domestic uses.

(h) Mining: Water is used in mines for extraction of naturally occurring minerals: solids, such as coal and ores; liquids, such as crude petroleum; and gases, such as natural gas. This includes quarrying, milling (such as crushing, screening, washing, and flotation), and other operations as part of mining activity.

(i) Generation of electricity: Hydroelectric power is generated by river water. Fast-moving river water (especially in waterfalls and cataracts) is used to turn turbines to generate hydroelectricity that is supplied to homes, industries, towns, etc. Most of the electricity we use at home is generated by this means. Only a small portion is generated through other means.

(j) Navigation and recreation: People, goods and services can be transported via water bodies like rivers, lakes and oceans by using vessels such as boats, dhows, canoes and ships. Water is also used for sports such as swimming, canoeing, fishing, yachting, water skiing, and many other sports carried out on, in and under the water.

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