Water is essential for life on earth. Without it, life as we know it would end. Our bodies are made mostly of water and need it every day to stay healthy. Plants need water to grow. We use water to clean our clothes, dishes, homes, food, and bodies. We use water to cook our food. Water is used to generate electricity and manufacture products.


Fun Facts

  • Although 70 percent of the earth’s surface is covered with water, only 1 percent of that water is available for drinking. This water, known as “fresh water” comes from rivers, lakes, and underground reservoirs. The remaining 69 percent is salt water. We cannot drink it.
  • The average American family uses 400 gallons of water each day.
  • Water is the only natural substance that can be found in all three states of matter. Water can be frozen, liquid, or a gas.
  • Water is sometimes called the “universal solvent.” It can break down or dissolve more substances than any other liquid.
  • Pure water is tasteless and odorless. It has a neutral pH, which means it’s neither acidic nor alkaline.
  • It takes longer to boil water at high altitudes than at sea level.
  • Water sheds are natural systems that store water. As rain and snow run down mountains, the water collects in small streams that become rivers and then lakes. Lakes are like huge basins that store water in the water shed. Small water sheds are often part of bigger water sheds.
  • Most of the water on the earth is salt water found in oceans. This water can’t be used as drinking water.
  • Most of the earth’s fresh water is stored in ground water, water that is in the soil or in underground aquifers, or locked up in glaciers in ice caps. The remaining water is found in streams, rivers, and lakes.


Questions and Answers

Question: Why is the ocean salty?

Answer: If all the salt in the ocean could be removed and spread on the earth, it would create a layer 500 feet tall. That’s a lot of salt. The ocean is salty because as rain water runs across the earth’s surface on its way to the ocean, it dissolves salt and minerals in the earth, taking them along with it.


Learn More

Take a quiz about water basics.