Water: A Source of Life and Stability
Water played a crucial part in the origin of life and it still has an essential role in maintaining plant and animal life. Water is probably the most indispensible resource. We need it to sustain us, as our bodies consist of approxiamately 65% water. We need it for plants which depend on water for the transfer of nutrients and for photosynthesis, we need it for irrigation, energy, transport and sports as well as for our own fun and recreation.
Population growth, however, is creating an increasingly higher demand for large amounts of water for irrigation, exerting great pressure on rivers and making the supply of water to cities especially difficult. Water sources are being polluted by pesticide contamination, threatening human health, and the spread of deadly diseases such as cholera is aggravated by polluted water. Whole nations have been afflicted by a lack or desperate shortage of water and their struggle to overcome the problem has been a cause of serious tension among them.
Providing drinkable water for their people is a challenge for many nations in arid countries and this becomes a key factor in their ability to become prosperous. This is because a country's economic development depends on its human development, which is measured by examining life expectancy, literacy rates, educational attainments and the standard of living. Pure drinking water is, therefore, important for two of these measurements.
For the vast majority of these countries, addressing and relieving water shortage problems has been connected to the nation's concerns with sustaining lasting peace in the area. Issues such as water allocation, treatment and supply are at least as important as, if not more important than, rainfall itself. In some countries the mains are routinely closed to conserve the scarce water and educating the public on the importance of economising on water usage is a national necessity. Even worse, there are countries where the so-called "fresh" water pumped from the aquifers and used as potable water does not meet world health standards. With the world's remaining sources of fresh water being endangered and world population exploding, new measures are essential.
This can be better appreciated if we consider that there has been a six-fold increase in water usage in the world since 1990. It is estimated that by 2025 the amount of water which will be available for use by each individual may be only half of today's amount, and in 1960 it was twice as much as it is today. About a third of the world's fresh water comes from natural underground sources, but groundwater reservoirs are being depleted faster than they can be replenished by nature and desperate shortage of water will be inevitable. Future generations may be deprived of this basic natural resource if the excessive withdrawal of groundwater, its contamination and mismanagement are not dealt with promptly and effectively.
B. Read the passage a second time, paying closer attention to detail, and answer the questions below. Complete sentences are not necessary but your answers must be accurate.
1. What two reasons have made water supply difficult?
2. How is a nation's prosperity affected by the lack or shortage of fresh water?
3. Name two measures taken in some countries to combat the problem
4. Why do you think coping with water shortage is related to "sustaining lasting peace"? Write between 40-45 words.
5. Find three words in the first paragraph which mean "very important" and "too important not to have".
6. Find a word in the text which means "keep alive".
7. Write a summary of the last two paragraphs in about 80 words. Use your own words as far as possible.
SOURCE: Reaching Out - Hillside Press
The answer key will be posted shortly