Water is an astounding element. Its chemical structure looks like a V: Like arms, one hydrogen element hangs on each side of the single oxygen element in the middle. The transparent liquid is unlike any other substance on this planet. Scientists have discovered 40 different anomalies in water so far, which makes some people think it is a magical element. Life on Earth originated here. The majority of the human body is made of this element, which is needed for all metabolic processes. Find out even more exciting facts about the vital resource that is water in this article.
Water comes from natural streams - hyporheic zones, or groundwater. The term ‘hyporheic zone’ describes the region beneath and alongside a stream bed, where shallow groundwater and surface water mix. The groundwater comes from rainfall, which trickles into the soil until it accumulates over an impervious layer.
For us to drink it, natural water needs to be treated in a multi-step process. In coagulation, positively charged substances bond with negatively charged impurities to filter them out. In sedimentation, gravity is used to remove particles at the bottom of the supply facilities. Various filters made of sand and charcoal can remove pathogens. A disinfectant such as chlorine then kills off the remaining germs.
According to an OECD study from 2016, agriculture irrigation accounts for 70 percent of water use worldwide. In Europe, industry and commerce are responsible for around 55 percent of overall consumption, while private households consume a whopping 13 percent.
Climate change is impairing water quality through acid rain and other occurrences and is reducing the amount of this vital resource through evaporation.
According to the UNESCO World Water Development Report 2020, sustainable management can, however, strengthen climate protection. If water losses and the consumption of this valuable resource are reduced, it also cuts down on energy consumption and emissions.
Untreated wastewater is a source of greenhouse gases. At the same time, however, its treatment contributes around seven percent to global emissions. But UNESCO believes this figure can be reduced through improved processes and energy-saving measures. Wastewater treatment can also be used as an energy source. According to UNESCO, preserving and rewilding natural wetlands are also important for climate protection.
Some scientists describe H2O as a magical element because it cannot be compared to any other substance. Only 0.5 percent of the global amount is suitable for use as drinking water. Climate change is making it a scarce resource. Better management through international cooperation and minor changes in behaviour, including the way we brush our teeth, will help to save this vital resource.
Water: the magical element (in German)
OECD Council Recommendation on Water
UN World Water Development Report 2020: Water and Climate Change
The Water in You: Water and the Human Body
Where is all of the Earth's water?
The Atmosphere and the Water Cycle
Development of the drinking water consumption per inhabitant and day in Germany from 1990 to 2019*
132 litres for a cup of coffee: Here’s how much water goes into everyday products (in German)
Virtual water – not just an abstract figure (in German)
Some interesting facts about water