Water; why bother with water? Well, if it wasn’t for water, instead of wetting out our mouths, we’d have to always brush our teeth with that nasty paste being dry. Seriously though, in testament to our watery origins, the human body in a significant portion…is water. According to bioelectric statistics, the average adult male is ~60% water composition, while in adult females it’s a little less at 57%. Total body weight varies with water content as we age. So, where a newborn infant’s total weight mass may be as high as 75% in being water, once that infant ages, his or her water weight progressively decreases until around ten-years-old where it dramatically levels off. Still though, once leveling has occurred, the average human weighing 70kg/154.35lbs holds 40 liters/10.57 gallons making it around 57% of our total body weight. Now that fact holds water and it will wash.

Besides to quench our thirst, exactly why is it that life as we know it, is so dependent on water? It all has to do with metabolism, how our body conducts and performs its functions. Intracellular, extracellular, interstitial, transcellular and plasma fluids are all primarily composed of water. It allows cells to perform assigned duties through osmosis, the process of making solvated molecules mobile and to pass through selective permeable membranes into regions of higher solute concentrations. This allows cells to eat and perform specified body tasks. With water, osmosis is allowed to move solvated material on a molecular and physical level without input of energy, but rather the release of energy. This creates work (output) and is why I can type these words right now and you, a little later read.

Angels in the snow
My two daughters'  fun in the snow
Snow fall near the homestead.
Water makes us all chemists as we all know its empirical formula, H2O. Consisting of two hydrogen atoms bound to an oxygen atom, hydrous oxide, or as most like to call it—water, is a quirky compound. Found abundantly in the three states of solid, liquid and gas (vapor), it is one of the few compounds that can sublimate, which describes how a substance found in three states can skip the middle phase and go instantly from one outside phase to the other. Water naturally as ice (solid phase) will melt into the liquid phase when subjected to heat. With more heat it will go from the liquid to gaseous phase as vapor. But when it sublimates, water skips the liquid phase and goes directly from gas to solid. Up in the atmosphere, as long as there is a nucleus to bind to, such as a dust particle (unfortunately today it usually is a pollutant particle) and when atmospheric conditions are right, water vapor instantly becomes a solid crystal binding around the particle, bypassing altogether any liquid stage in development. We call this phenomena snow.

Snow is white just like shaved ice from a block of clear ice because it contains a lot of entrapped air. Water ice is clear as long as there are minimum impurities, but with water, as in snow formation, for ice to form, there needs to be an enlisted impurity particle. Without any impurities, purified water will not freeze no matter how cold it is. As a solid, water has a peculiarity not found in many other substances. As ice, the molecules in the water actually expand instead of condensing as most solids do. Antimony is one other substance that I know of exhibiting this unusual property. In doing so, its mass becomes less dense than in liquid form and this is why ice will always float in liquid water with two-thirds submerged and one-third exposed. This totally defies normal logic in physics, as solids are usually the densest material with its mass concentrated in a compacted internal arrangement and that is why we say the big guy sunk like a rock. With concentrated molecular particles being denser in a smaller and more confined space arrangement, mass, or weight increases proportionately as in the case of a rock’s crystallization structure, so it will always be heavier than a liquid that possesses more spacing in internal molecular configurations.

Oh, the liquidity of it all. It appears natural for life to have taken off from water due to its abundance on, in and around this world, but other than good ol’ Earth, water found elsewhere is rare. A roundabout two-thirds of the earth is drenched in water. It’s on the surface, in the atmosphere and deep inside the interior. The moon, our closest neighbor, but once part of Earth, is a combination of the earth and some planetoid or small planet that struck Earth in its infancy when it was around 50 million years old. This humongous impact flung heated and molten debris up and beyond Earth’s atmosphere that slowly began to accrete and co-accrete into what we call the moon. At one time, the moon was a very close neighbor, but since that time, the lunar satellite has been slowly moving farther away from Earth in its orbit (~ 3.8cm/1.50in per year), due to gradually overcoming Earth’s gravitation tidal friction.

Apparently, Earth’s water content was blasted out into space during the impact that gave birth to the moon, for recently from India’s Chandrayaan-1 findings and NASA’s LCROSS space probe, a lot of water has been detected. There is an estimated 600 million tons of frozen water a couple meters thick at the lunar North Pole. In-bound comets, asteroids and meteoroids carrying water could not supply this amount during impact as water vapor on the lunar landscape is quickly decomposed by sunlight and lost to outer space. It must have originally been there from the initial creation of the moon from the earth’s supply and froze once temperatures gradually cooled. Also, as on Earth, there are innumerous amounts of the chemically water related hydroxyl (OH) groups bound in minerals. There are other hypotheses out there proposing how that much water is on the moon, but this one is mine and I'm sticking to it.  

In our solar system, it does appear there is frozen water out there on other planet’s moons, but one of Saturn’s moons, Enceladus may even have liquid water sourced from geysers. Although Neptune’s moon, Triton also has geysers, they only spew out ice crystals as the cold-cold atmosphere instantly freezes any free liquid water. But beneath the geysers, there may well be wet water.

As far as the rest of the universe goes liquid water indeed is elusive, but who knows, as we further explore, maybe its uncommonness will eventually become commonality through the gateway of advanced exploration.

Detected in 2009, in the Ophiuchus constellation of our own Milky Way galaxy, just forty light years away from us is a red dwarf star with indeed a wet watery world orbiting around it. The planet may be composed entirely of liquid water with a global ocean depth of 15,000 km/49,500 ft. But shrouded in a very thick atmosphere, composed of helium and hydrogen, creates an average surface water temperature of 120°C/282°F on this very wet but sauna world. The thick atmosphere keeps the water bound as liquid by impeding the water from vaporizing. Unfortunately, this is not conducive to advanced life as we know it.

Recycling Engine:
Pert near all Earth’s water has been here since the earliest of days in earth’s history. It is a good bet that the next drink ya take from that tall glass of cold water could be the same water that once coursed through the veins of a dinosaur, or even worse was excreted in urine from one of the earliest of fish, Haikouichthys 530 million years ago. There’s a possibility as rain, the water ya just gulped, once wet the heads of our earliest ancestors. It could even be the same water that was belched up from the upheavals of volcanism billions of years ago.

The reason Earth has kept its original water sources without a need for replenishment for all these eons of years is due to nature’s grand scheme of cycling and recycling. This action in itself has created a perpetual state of equilibrium throughout all Earth’s ecosystems.

Near home a late corn crop in a field of snow.
The tee-total beauty of Earth’s Mother Nature, is in how she recycles the materials in what she was dealt with. To give the best bang for the buck, she has designed cycling programs to benefit all facets of her earthbound subjects, animate or inanimate and because her resources are limited, she has mastered a recycling program, in which essentially is inexhaustible, or at least before mankind decided he could dabble in diversion, industrialization and pollution that forestalls the natural sequence of recycling. We should observe and learn from Mother Nature, not hinder her.

We will in following pursue water cycles, but there are a myriad of other recycling facets we’ll first mention. In listing just a few, we’ll begin with elements that are cycled through Earth’s realm in a solid, liquid and gaseous stage. We may think of these elements as only a solid, a liquid or a gas, but through recycling they may exist in all three forms. Further, an awful lot of elements and their composed minerals that are recycled naturally are also keys to life in being biogeochemical. Some examples are:

Sulfur, a secondary element and its naturally occurring sulfur dioxide (SO2) and sulfate (SO4) compounds are essential to soil microorganisms, plants and as components to amino acids, vitamins and hormones to vertebrate life. The recycling works like this: a)—Inorganic sulfur is in the soil, air and water as a result of volcanism and hot springs emissions; b)—Weathering of rocks then air contact convert the inorganic sulfur into inorganic sulfate; c—The sulfate is then taken up by chemo synthesizing bacteria converting it into organic sulfur; d)—Plants then take up the organic sulfur; e)—Vertebrate herbivores eat the plants and predators eat the herbivores; f)—As the animals excrete and die, sulfur is released into terrestrial, hydrological and atmospheric environments as sulfur, sulfate and the gases sulfur dioxide (SO2) and hydrogen sulfide (H2S); g)—Eventually, the gases in the atmosphere are converted into SO2 and sulfuric acid (H2SO4) where they fall back down to earth through precipitation and are once again recycled by organisms living in the sedimentary and hydrologic zones.

Nitrogen as a natural gas is virtually useless to life. a)—The nitrogen cycle starts off in the atmosphere essentially acting as a nitrogen reservoir where nitrogen makes up 78% of the total atmospheric gases; b)—Through air to soil contact, chemosynthetic bacteria perform a process called fixation on nitrogen combining it with oxygen forming nitrites (NO2) while nitrites are further fixated into nitrate (NO3); c)—Essential to all plant life, nitrates are then absorbed from the soil; d)—Herbivores then eat the plants and in turn are eaten by predators taking up the nitrates; e)—Animal waste and death is decomposed by bacteria, fungi, etc. releasing free nitrate and converting nitrates into ammonia (NH3) and ammonium hydroxide (NH4OH) compounds; f)—Denitrifying bacterium then further break down the nitrates and ammonia in the soils releasing free nitrogen back into the atmosphere to start the process all over again.

Phosphates, a combination of phosphorous and oxygen, occur usually in four forms as PO4 and the highly water soluble hydrogen ion forms of HPO4, H2PO4 and H3PO4. Phosphates are essential to life in being the backbone residue of all life’s DNA structure. The phosphate cycle starts a)—in the lithology of rocks where it is exposed to erosion; b)—Plant life absorbs it throughout its dispersion in sediment; c)—Terrestrial and aquatic animals take up phosphates by consuming the plants and in turn consumed by other animals; d)—Animal waste and decomposition from death put phosphates back into sediment.

In these three examples, through man’s smoke stack industries, the burning of fossil fuels, fertilizers and detergents, we’ve overwhelmed certain stages of these element and mineral cycles creating tragic disruptions in ecosystems. Carbon, oxygen and carbon dioxide are also natural cycles, but discussing them will be deferred for another time on their own. Now back to water.

Water Tricycles:
Besides evaporation, condensation and precipitation, many components and conditions play into cycling water, but we’ll present it as simply as can be, with hopes of not boring too many. In primary terms; a)—surface liquid water is hit by solar radiation and the water evaporates turning into a gas; b)—The heated vapor then rises into the atmosphere, leaving all impurities behind; c)—As the water vapor rises in altitude, temperature decreases condensing the vapor back into liquid form but in minuscule droplets, in which we call its dew point; d)—Because water is very polar (meaning it likes its molecules more than other molecules creating high surface tension and that is why it beads or forms little balls when spilled), it begins to conjoin with other water droplets; e)—When enough droplets have mixed, we can now see it in the form of white clouds; f)—As more water is attracted to itself, the clouds darken; g)—As more and more water is attracted, the cloud itself has become saturated with moisture and laden with weight; h)—Gravity takes over affecting the heavier droplets and water is precipitated out from the cloud as rain, starting the endless cycle over but once again.

Fortunately the ambient conditions in our atmosphere such as temperature and barometric pressures, keep water vapor from continually drifting out into space. Barometric is the same as using atmospheric, it’s simply called barometric due to the fact that a barometer is the instrumentation utilized for atmospheric measurements. Down below on Earth however, a small percentage of the precipitated water is lost as groundwater, which we’ll discuss further in a bit.

Of course many atmospheric factors cause water to fall back to Earth in many forms. We now know how rain falls and snow forms, but we also know there are other forms of water that fall out of the sky.

Hail originally was a drop of rain that froze, got blown back up into the atmosphere, got a layer of liquid coating which then froze, dropped down, got blown up again in an updraft, a second layer of liquid was attached and so on. Finally, the stone will fall when its weight supersedes the updrafting. Actually, if you make a transverse cut through a hailstone, you can see in the cross section all the layers appearing as a sliced onion. A pea-sized hailstone will have a few layers, a golf ball-sized hailstone will have several and a grapefruit-sized hailstone will have many layers.
My two daughters in fog.

Sleet, or ice pellets are droplets of water that froze, but were not blown back up into the atmosphere as hail is, so falls as tiny droplets of frozen water crystals.

Fog, for all intent and purposes is actually a low lying stratus cloud in reference to Earths surface. As a collection of fine water droplets or ice crystals, fog is formed locally from moist ground surfaces or bodies of water where cooler air is just above warmer air. This temperature junction causes humidity to condense into vapor, which in turn the vapor into very fine water droplets. Mist essentially is fog, but the water droplets are not as aerosolized, therefore is not as compacted and is less dense. If visibility is 1km/0.062mi or less, it is considered fog; if visibility is more than 1 kilometer or 0.62 miles its mist.

Another not so quite known phenomenon called graupel is when any ice crystal, it could be a frozen droplet or snow, falls through a supercooled cloud of water droplets. These droplets, as the crystal passes through, come into contact with the crystal and instantly freeze onto it. Eventually, enough droplets attached will hide the original ice crystal’s shape.

Why in the world does salt melt ice? Remember earlier just above we mentioned the polarity of water? The reason water likes itself so much is because electrochemically, it possesses both hydrogen positive ends and oxygen negative ends in its molecular configuration. This makes water electrically neutral and as all electrons are lazy and seek a zone with the least amount of energy exertion, water bonds love neutrality. Neutrality in the physics world is equivalent to the couch potato in the human world.

Now, in what we call salt (NaCl), the sodium ion is positively charged and the chlorine ion is negatively charged, so it too exhibits net neutrality. But an ion is not the same as an electrically neutral atom. In the salt’s exchange make-up, you have sodium as sodium ions and chlorine as chloride (Cl-) ions, which are an anion of chlorine. An anion has more electrons than protons, so has a net negative charge. When salt and ice, both solids, come into contact with one another, the chloride ions will readily migrate to the hydrogen positive ends in the ice. The salt thus begins to dissociate, allowing the positive sodium ions to seek the negative oxygen ions in the ice. This attraction begins to melt the ice and further dissolves the salt into solution. In solution, the free salt and water ions can spread more rapidly in seeking more ice to melt, until all the ice has melted and all the salt is in the solution. The ice melts, simply because the new attraction arrangement cannot lock up as a solid; only in liquid form. In colder climes though, below -6.67° C/20° F, the migration of the ions is severely limited.

Earth as a whole is almost bathed totally in water, but only around three percent of it is freshwater. Of that three percent, 70% is locked up in ice, though the percentage of Earth’s ice is melting, dropping to 69.6%. This equates to around 6.44 million trillion gallons of freshwater as ice from an approximate overall total of 9.25 million trillion gallons of freshwater. 30.1% of freshwater is groundwater considered as beneath the ground in soil and aquifers amounting to 2.78 million trillion gallons. What’s left is 0.3% with around 31,431 trillion gallons found in surface bodies like ponds, wetlands, lakes, brooks, creeks, rivers, in plants and animals and in the atmosphere.

Surprisingly, at any given time there is only around 0.001% of water as vapor in the atmosphere. Indeed though, this is adequate enough in driving Earth’s weather. By atmospheric total volume, water vapor varies in the atmosphere from a trace ~.01% and is never greater than 4%. Due to the earth’s overall mean averaged temperature, once water vapor reaches a saturation point of 4% it condenses and falls out of the air, no matter whether in the poles or the tropics or in between.

So, for the total between surface water and groundwater at 30.4% that is left for us to access thus exist, less than 1% of that is potable water. Whoever came up with that term to describe safe drinking water I don’t know, but it always reminds me of toilet water, ya know, the potty. Anyway potable water infers to water in which thirst can be safely quenched. It is of sufficient purity and quality standards that consumption maintains minimum risks of immediate or long term harm.

The Path to Gen:
Freshwater is liked by a slew of innumerable microscopic life and setup camp in it. Unfortunately for us many of these micro-life forms are human pathogens. Here in America, we take for granted drinkable water and feel all you need to do is turn on the faucet to have access to it. But the faucet is only the end story to potable water and not its inception. In following the artificially purified drop of water from source to treatment to transport to faucet, there has been great investment of piping, purification plants and storage tanks and towers to ensure quality potable water. In treatment alone...coagulation, flocculation, sedimentation, filtration, disinfection and containment has to be considered and controlled before reaching that faucet.

Slurping a cool drink from a mountain stream with water as clear as a crystal bell may be tempting and enticing, but just upstream a decaying elk carcass could be contaminating the water with pathogens. Any body of water exposed to air, sediment, pollution and life are likely point sources for the induction of harmful pathogens.

For the world, one out of eight people lack access to clean drinkable water. On average 3.3 million people each year die from water related diseases. Almost 90% of those deaths are children from infancy to age five. In fact, water borne diseases are the number one contributor to human disease.

Some waterborne pathogens are bacteria, viruses, protozoan and parasitic worms. Diseases they cause are the bacterial: dysentery, cholera, typhoid and coliform bacterial infections; the viral: hepatitis A and E and poliomyelitis; the protozoan: amoebic dysentery, giardiasis cyclospora gastroenteritis and cryptosporidiosis; and from parasitic worms: schistosomia, guinea worm disease also known as Dracunculiasis and fasciolopsiasis a fluke worm disease.

In addition, water also harbors and is home to intermediate larval stages for certain organisms such as mosquitoes that as a vector, hosts the pathogens causing malaria and dengue fever and for black fly larvae that act as a host for the onchoceriasis causing nematode. Even further, the unicellular spore forming fungi, microsporidia may contaminate water with certain species waiting for a host to drink, whereupon being ingested, release sporoplasm into the host’s cells causing microsporidiasis. Certain species of mold requiring an ambient environment of constant moisture produce respiratory inflicting mycotoxins that will hang around long after the mold has dried up.

My snowy driveway.
In nature, water is naturally purified in many ways. Evaporation into vapor is truly one of the most effective ways to purify water. Condensation in air or on a substrate is purely water as long as the medium is clean and void of pollutants. Water from thermal sources such as geysers may be high in dissolved mineral content, but the heat is enough to kill parasites and bacterium.

Freezing saltwater, will properly remove salt content producing freshwater, but as for any ice, including ice cubes in the freezer, will entrap and retain pathogens that may very well survive the freeze. Scientists have collected ice samples from Antarctica that had been frozen for millions of years. Bacteria trapped in it during all those eons of time in suspended dormancy, came back to life after the ice was melted; true relics of ancient past life, but now present.

Groundwater from aquifers, artesian wells and underground springs has been naturally filtered as it seeped down through unsaturated and saturated sands, gravel and sandy clays. Unfortunately though, water from underground sources can dissolve elements and minerals from the bedrock. Two miscible bad ones are fluorine and arsenic.

Dissolved into shallow wells and even deep aquifers (500+ ft.) from bedrock and sediment, arsenic and fluorine are geogenic (originate from soils) in nature. Prolonged consumption of arsenic and fluorinated contaminated water can cause debilitating diseases. Elevated levels of fluorine cause fluorosis, which weakens and fractures bones by crystallizing onto them in anabolic fashion. High arsenic levels accumulated over time even in small dosages, causes aresenicosis that unleashes a host of symptoms from cardiac arrhythmia to liver and kidney damage and is carcinogenic to boot.

Looking for a rainbow...
What’s shameful now, here in the U.S. the currently controlled Republican House of Representatives are attempting to gut the Clean Water Act that has saved untold millions from drinking arsenic laced water and are doing their very darnest in keeping the EPA from enforcing the regulation. They’re doing this egregious act, which is detrimental to all Americans who drink and cook with water from the tap, simply to forgive polluting industries that emit arsenic pollutants and allow a free pass for the industries to pump out even more arsenic emissions.

Apparently Republicans think that the polluting industries are too restrained from the anti-polluting and clean water laws and should not be responsible stewards in cleaning up their acts. To allow the generation of even more pollution emissions rather they institute legislation to reduce what already is emitted, in this day and age of knowing the ravages of pollution is just downright pure stupidity. Antipollution laws are not a hinder, they are a duty. It's simply a mindset and attitude of wealth over health.

Rainbow droplets separate white light into the color spectrum. 
One way to utilize a natural sanitization of collected water even from mud puddles, is in taking advantage of the sun. Collect your water in clear glass or plastic bottles, making sure all labeling is stripped away. Arrange the filled bottles over a metal sheet like for instance, a piece of corrugated aluminum. Allow them to lay there for a minimum of six hours in direct sunlight and voila, you may have water with sediment, but it will be safe to drink-up. UVA rays (A is for longwave) and the heat generated will destroy all the pathogenic germs…viruses, bacterium, protozoan and all. Some forms of chemical pollutants may also be broken down by the sunrays. If you don’t like any gritty sediment, use a clean rag to filter with.

Parting Waters:
In keeping that cup of drinking water handy, man has camped by springs, dammed rivers, constructed reservoirs, dug canals, laid untold miles of piping, tapped into artesian wells and aquifers and desalinated the seas. We’ve always naturally, but leisurely as well wanted it to be conveniently at hand. In damming or diverting waterways and water bodies, we may think we have halted water where it naturally flows, which is anywhere towards gravity’s tug, but its not that it’s going nowhere, for water always will go somewhere. It constantly wants to flow and man’s halting of that flow cannot be forever maintained.

Water as snow and ice crystals.
The recent Mississippi River and its tributaries come to mind. Much effort has gone into constructing levees to keep the Mississippi from going into its natural floodplains. As we’ve just witnessed though, the mighty Mississippi will eventually prevail. Dams do have success in maintaining a reservoir for access to its water, but there still needs to be an outlet and dams do flood land. Over 80 million people worldwide have been displaced by dams not counting the wildlife in losing its habitat. The initial weight of dammed water from the largest dams is something to consider as well. The weight behind China’s Three Gorges dam is tilting the earth’s axis by one inch causing concern for reservoir induced seismicity or earthquakes.

Ice crystals and snow in the backyard.
As environmental impact studies have proven, decaying plants downstream caused from damming, create as much greenhouse gases as coal fired electricity generation does. Dams stop the flow of siltation and sediment to the sea robbing the oceans of natural and renewable fertility that fish rely on. Also, the added weight of silt and clays on the inside walls of the dam creates added pressures, strain and stress.

In tapping and overusing our underground resources, aquifers that took thousands of years for the water to accumulate sandwiched in and between gravel, sand and permeable rock are being drained in decades. Naturally recharging aquifers is a slow process on average, with rates of replenishment at one inch or less per year. In extracting aquifer waters thousands of acre-feet per year, one doesn’t have to speculate the imbalanced outcome. In Texas, where aquifer water withdrawal is unregulated, levels have dropped more than 150 feet.

Man has displayed wastefulness in his pursuits for control of water. In New York’s water tunnel that supplies NYC with its water, leaks about 35 million gallons a day. A typical Florida golf course uses 3,000 gallons to water the grass not per day, but per game played. Americans use about 127% more water than we did in 1950. Of that, in a typical household, 95% goes down the drain.

In California alone, 81 millions of acre-feet of water have been redistributed from its natural sources and flows. With one acre-foot equaling 325,851 gallons, that’s a lot of water per year. In the process, over 1,037 miles of canals and aqueducts have been constructed in diverting and carrying the water to populated regions like San Diego, a city in arid land that virtually has no local water sources. This diverted water sustains 1,306,300 San Diego residents.

Unfortunately, along with ageing levees and dikes, these canals and aqueducts crisscross major fault zones where an earthquake could create major breaks in not only cutting off two-thirds of Californians’ water supply, but accelerate water waste in the resultant flooding. Also, the point source rivers that are having water diverted, along with a three year drought are being reduced to trickling streams. Of course this has a very negative effect on the aquatic wildlife and an impact on wildlife in general that depend on fresh flowing water. Lake Owen, where once steamboats plied, is a dust bowl now sapped totally of its water from the Los Angeles aqueduct. Lithium from the dry bed’s sediment is blowing in the winds creating air borne pollutants.
A picnic in the snow in Pymatuning Lake grounds.   
Along with waste, man is also shrinking his/her freshwater supply through environmental pressures, deforestation, pollution and yes…global warming.

Global warming is raising sea levels. The rise is beginning to inundate the California Aqueduct and Central Valley Project’s pumping stations located in drained low lying land that was once a marsh. There is farmland there too, which is also under threat to seawater encroachment. Global warming is also affecting the world’s largest lakes by raising surface temperatures, in which we thought would not occur due to their colder temperatures, massive volumes and circulation.
Water in Lake Pymatuning as snow, liquid and fog.

Lake Baikal, located in Russia is not only the world’s largest freshwater lake, it is the deepest and at 25 million years old, is also the oldest. If humanly possible, one could fit all five Great Lakes quite comfortably into Baikal. A six decade study has determined a rise in temperature of 1.21°C/2.178°F since 1946. This may not seem as too much of a rise, but it has greatly influenced the micro food web in the lake. With stressed changes in the nutrient cycle, this could have devastating implications on the dynamics of current species the lake supports. With a rich biodiversity, the lake supports 1,085 plant species and 1,550 species of animals. The world’s only freshwater seal, the nerpa inhabits the lake. With a 300% rise in chlorophyll since 1979 due to temperature rises, who knows what will change in the food cycle, affecting the food web all the way up to the one of a kind Baikal seals.

Water in three forms: fog, snow and ice.
Our warming atmosphere is affecting the Plateau of Tibet, popularly known and considered as Earth’s third pole. The plateaus abundance of snow and glacial ice as melt water, supplies the headwaters for Asia’s mightiest rivers like the Ganges, Mekong, Yangtze, and Yellow Rivers. Tibetan plateau glacial ice gives one-third of Asia’s population sustenance. Presently, due to global warming, the plateau glaciers are dramatically shrinking producing less runoff. 95% of plateau glaciers are shedding more ice than they’re replacing. If indeed these mighty rivers do dry up, in more ways than one there will be environmental, political and economic catastrophes on a grand scale.

Because trees are the lungs of tropical forests exhaling oxygen and water vapor, deforestation not only adds to the amount of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere, it essentially severs the kick-start to rain making. Without trees, as much as there is no forest, there also is no more rain. This would devastate the immense biodiversity supported by rainforests. To give you an idea of the immensity of life sustained by rainforests and jungles, I’ll need shed light only on one example. In one Brazilian Amazon pond alone there is more diversity of fish than in all the rivers and lakes of Europe.

We could elaborate fully on the ravages inflicted by industrial pollution and agricultural waste in and on our waterways, but instead will expound a bit on another form of pollution, most likely the majority of us don’t think of and that is…pills.

Though it is not the traditional thought of contamination in our waterways, prescription drugs are having their impact on water quality and aquatic health. Every time someone pops a pill, then later goes to the bathroom to do either #1 or #2, they are also excreting a certain percentage of the pill’s chemical compounds. They are indeed in only trace amounts for one toilet flushing, but when whole neighborhoods, communities and cities are also flushing after intake of pills, ya can see how trace amounts can begin to add upwards from trace to small and to large quantity.

A Baylor University research study that spawned the EPA to begin monitoring, found numerous types and amounts of drugs in fish. In examining fish caught downstream from 15 U.S. cities, the researchers found synthetic hormones, antidepressants, antihistamines and chemicals for seizure and hypertension control. The researcher’s final analysis concluded these are not in high enough levels yet to adversely affect a human who consumes the fish, but this cannot, looking at it naturally, be a good thing overall for the fish and eventually humans.

Water is the life sustaining commodity mankind has always fought over. Ever since cavemen were clubbing each other on the noggin for premium waterfronts, we’ve been wrestling and going to war over water rights. The Romans weren’t the first, but were the masters at conquering lands then constructing aqueducts to carry water from those water source lands to their populace. Israel in its recent past and today has had feuds with its neighbors and not over religion, but over water. Oh how the politics of river water can be complex in quenching the thirst of industry, agriculture, citizenry and recreation.

The main lit fuse that exploded into the Six Day War was Israeli airstrikes into Syria because the Arab country was attempting to divert water from the Baniyas River located in the Golan Heights as one of the headwater sources for the Jordan River. At that time before Israel took the land over after the war, the Golan Heights was a part of Syria. Since 1967, Israel has blocked the Sea of Galilee, which is actually a body of fresh water fed by the Jordan River, from Syrian usage.

Near home, the Allegheny River, Warren Pa. 
The Yarmuk River which is the major tributary to the Jordan River, borders Israel and Jordan while further upstream, forms the Syrian and Jordanian border. In 1979, Israel nearly declared war on Jordan, when Jordan was simply attempting to dig out a sandbar that was presenting itself as an obstacle in allowing water to flow into the East Ghor Canal intake. In 2002, Israel threatened to send out military aircraft and shell agricultural pumping stations on the Hasbani River inside Lebanon; another source of Jordan River headwaters.

Again, the Allegheny ...
Today, with water scarcity at a maximum in Middle East parched lands, the lower Jordan River is but a trickle of liquid waste from water diverted for innumerable upstream canal and irrigation projects. This part of the Jordan is also so polluted from all the agriculture and industry run-off that it is virtually void of any aquatic life. Still, polluted or not, it is water and Israel is prepared to arrogantly be a bit possessive of the river within Israel’s border as well as outside its borders. Hard-line Israeli politicians see their right to water ownership not as merely a national security issue, but as a divinely ordained resource. They pursue this so-called right in earnest.

It does not matter if it rains on Palestinian ground, some Israeli authorities feel, no matter what little is left from evaporation Palestinians can lay no claim to it. Noah Kinnarti is Israel’s chief water negotiator and candidly states, “Palestinians think any rain that falls in the West Bank belongs to them. But in the Oslo talks, we agreed to share that water. They just can’t get their act together to do it.” It appears that Kinnarti is intensely out of his gourd, or is immensely blind to the opposite reality. Actually, it is the Israelis who “cannot get their act together” to share the wet and vital resource. Israel is the hoarder here, not the Palestinian.

Israel’s national water authority known as Mekorot has drilled 42 deep wells to reach water under the West Bank and supplies Israeli cities and settlements with it. West Bank Palestinians under Israeli military rule aren’t allowed to drill deep wells. Palestinian water supplies are supported by rain, shallow wells and natural springs that dry up every summer. After that, they then rely on Mekorot to sell them water that originally came from underneath their own land for an approximate US dollar every cubic yard.

Mekorot is depleting the artesian sources, which in turn is lowering the whole water table affecting Palestinian shallow well and spring sources. Palestinians currently are having an inequitable opportunity in access to water. A World Bank 2009 study revealed in a report that Israelis consume four times the amount of water per capita than Palestinians. Of course, the Israeli government disputes this report, but it’s a hard argument to sell when West Bank Israeli settlers have more than adequate amounts to grow acres of bananas, a tropical water loving fruit, in an arid desert, to water countless irrigation fields, to supply residential and commercial greenhouses, to water their manicured lawns and fill swimming pools. Of course on the other hand in the unequal situation, Palestinians, to fill toting jersey cans, must buy back Mekorot ration water originally pumped from their own land, just to cook and bathe in.
Diving in the Gulf of Siam.

The thing is, water is not only a desired commodity, it is life sustaining. Instead of defending water rights and fighting for it, it would be much wiser to work together in equalizing the supply. Irrational behavior and jealous ownership can only compound the problem. People, communities and states will cooperate for the better good of all, if they know they will receive their fair share and adjust accordingly. As the former U.S. official, Chuck Lawson who worked on the Israeli/Palestinian water rights back in the nineties once said, “It seems counterintuitive, but water is just too important to go to war over.”

Water truly is the briny frothy medium life originated in and from and is the circulatory system to sustaining life. An adult requires an intake of 1.5 liters/1.59 quarts per day to replace fluids lost in urinating, sweating and respired vapor to maintain biochemical and bodily functions.

I recall quite vividly when in the Sudan back in the eighties, peddlers would sell plastic sandwich bags filled with water in Omdurman and business was brisk. Have you ever been truly thirsty? If you have, you know full well pain accompanies it. I also remember in central Sudan I had missed the helicopter pick-up after performing some gravity surveys. I had to walk back to base camp eight miles away with no water in 110°F heat. I tell ya, if I’d come across any body of liquid, whether from a muddy puddle or a giraffe’s favorite latrine, I would have gladly gulped it. As your body’s vital functions and organs begin to shut down due to dehydration it is one painful episode. Fortunately, I did make it back to camp. But, be thankful for that convenient glass of water.

Pure water is odorless and colorless. If you can detect a smell, it is an impurity in it and not the water itself. An odor emanating from water can be anything from dissolved minerals to bacteria. Color also results either from impurities dissolved in the water or from suspended sediment. Phytoplankton and algae will exhibit a green shade to water. Water by itself and deep enough will appear blue due to selective absorption and the diffraction of white light.
Oh, the power of snow...
Religion has also recognized the sanctity of water. The old Christian adage, “Cleanliness is next to godliness,” rings the bell today as it did once upon a time. The Prophet Mohammed once said, “Cleanliness is half of faith.” We consider headwaters to mighty rivers as hallowed grounds. We sanctify water in religious history. We give offerings to rivers, place alters on majestic waterfalls and consecrate ephemeral pools. We conduct pilgrimages to water sites we deem as holy.

If we faithfully and dutifully learn to follow the steps within natures means, unto ourselves and to all life as well included, we’ll still be around because we ensured that the ample supply of freshwater is still around too.

B.J. Anderson
Dignified Reporting