What is Fresh water: Define, Sources & Facts

Freshwater is the natural water occurring on earth’s surface in ice sheets, ice caps, glaciers, icebergs, ponds, lakes, rivers and underground water. Access to clean water is important but also limiting. All freshwater habitats are dominated by the physical properties of water. The molecule is made up of a single oxygen atom with hydrogen. The fresh water is not the same as portable water or drinking water much of the earth’s surface fresh water can be polluted by human activities or it may be contaminated due to naturally occurring processes.

Sources of water:

Sources of water

  1. Groundwater:

Underneath the surface of the Earth lies a very large source of fresh water. Groundwater is the largest source of fresh water on the planet, and the second largest source of water, next to the water found in the oceans. Like the salty sea water, much of it is also not able to be consumed by people or animals. However, a percentage of groundwater is fresh and can be desalinated and refined in order to provide suitable drinking water for populations.

  1. Rain


One important source of fresh water that is often overlooked is rainwater. Rainwater is the product of water from the Earth that has been evaporated into the Earth’s atmosphere and is turned into rain. During that process, the water becomes fresh water and is cultivated in many places throughout the world to be used as a suitable supply of drinking water and water to feed crops. Harvesting rainwater is a technology that has been used by ancient civilizations and is one that is still widely used in many rural areas to make the most out of an endless supply of fresh water that is often taken for granted.

  1. Lakes, rivers, and streams:

Lakes, rivers, and streams

There are millions of freshwater lakes and many miles of rivers and streams on the planet, these water sources account for an almost negligible amount of fresh water. They are still vitally important, however: A lot of our consumable drinking water is taken from natural springs and freshwater rivers and streams. Surface water continues to be one of our most important sources of fresh water on the planet.

How much of Earth’s water is fresh?

How much of Earth's water is fresh

According to the U.S. Geological Survey, most of that three percent is inaccessible. Over 68 percent of the fresh water on Earth is found in ice caps and glaciers, and just over 30 percent is found in groundwater. Only about 0.3 percent of our fresh water is found in the surface water of lakes, rivers, and swamps.

Facts about freshwater:

Facts about freshwater

  • Only 3% of the water on Earth comes from freshwater biomes.
  • There are over 700 different species of fish that live in a freshwater biome.
  • 99% of all freshwater is either in the form of ice or located in an aquifer.
  • Many animals besides fish live in freshwater biomes. This includes crocodiles, hippopotamus, turtles, and frogs.
  • Freshwater biomes are subdivided into three groups: lakes and ponds, streams and rivers, and wetlands.
  • There are four key features that determine the ecology of streams and rivers – the flow of the water, amount of light, the temperature or climate, and the chemistry of the river.
  • Smaller bodies of water such as ditches and puddles are also considered freshwater biomes because they help some form of life to survive.
  • Freshwater biomes are very important to our survival because they supply people with more than half of their drinking water.

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