||edHelper's suggested reading level:
||grades 5 to 7
||Flesch-Kincaid grade level:
||oversaturated, percolate, porous, nitrogen, rainstorm, sluice, continuous, billion, network, atmosphere, vinegar, chlorine, vapor, reservoir, acidic, sulfur
||New York City
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By Trista L. Pollard
1 Are we losing our water? Well, if we keep polluting and using up our freshwater supply, the answer may be yes. It is easy to think that we have an unlimited supply of water. Every time we turn on our water faucets, we are rewarded with a steady stream of flowing water. However, as the Earth's population increases, so does our need for clean water. New York City alone consumes about one billion gallons of water every day! So where is most of our drinkable water located?
2 Over seventy percent of our Earth is covered with water. Most of that water is the saltwater found in oceans. Our drinkable water is located in rivers, lakes, glaciers (frozen), and beneath land surfaces as groundwater. Groundwater is usually found near water tables. A water table is the upper level of a section of the ground in which the rocks and soil are permanently saturated with water. As rainwater falls and soaks into the ground, we have more groundwater. The surface becomes supersaturated. When the water table rises to the surface, we see the beginnings of lakes and springs. In areas without municipal water service, wells are dug below water tables so that people have access to a continuous supply of water. Groundwater may also percolate or seep out of the ground or porous rocks. How does this water get to our homes and businesses?
3 In a municipal water system, the water is pumped to its first destination, a reservoir. Reservoirs are storage tanks or artificial lakes that store water. Water from rivers, lakes, and streams needs to be cleaned before it is drinkable. When the water enters the reservoirs, the sediment carried in the water settles to the bottom of the reservoir. Sluice gates open to let the water on the top of the reservoir flow into water treatment plants. Once the water enters the plant, it is strained or filtered to remove larger solid materials. To get the smaller materials, the water is sent through filters that contain layers of sand and gravel. These thick filters are in tanks that look like large round Petri dishes. By using sand and gravel filters, which are cleaned every day, smaller materials will stay behind as the water flows out. Finally, the water is treated with chlorine and other chemicals to kill any germs that may be in the water. You are probably familiar with chlorine in swimming pools. Chlorine helps to keep the water clean or purified. When the water is cleaned, it is pumped into main supply pipes (mains) or storage reservoirs. The journey continues from the mains and storage reservoirs through a huge network of pipes to the faucets in our homes, schools, and businesses.
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