The Importance of Water

Water is an incredibly important substance. Without it almost no life on earth could survive. In its various forms, water can shatter rock, douse fire, vaporise into clouds, and freeze into snowflakes which melt at a touch. It is very useful and beautiful.

Water appeared on the earth roughly 3-4 billion years ago. We are probably the only planet in our solar system where water appears on the surface and therefore the only planet where water plays a major role in shaping our landscapes - whether through the drip of water on rock over millennia, the eroding flow of a river, or the isostatic uplift of the earths crust as glaciers melt.

Most water on earth is trapped in its’ atmosphere and is constantly recycled between land, sea and air, so there is a chance that the water in your cup of tea once touched the lips of dinosaurs! Of the freshwater on earth, only around 0.1% is available to humans and other life forms as surface water in rivers and ponds etc. The rest is held in glaciers, natural underground lakes and the atmosphere.

Water in Sussex

In Sussex, there isn’t much water to share around. Sussex has limited fresh water supplies, and lots of demands on these resources. We are a ‘water stressed’ region, and changing rainfall patterns mean that we are increasingly experiencing seasonal droughts.

Over 70% of the water we use in Sussex is pumped from natural underground reservoirs called aquifers. So even when we are experiencing floods on the land surface, quite often our underground water supplies (which can take decades to re-fill), are still in drought.

Over one million people live in the County, and we all use lots of water. We use around 160 litres of water a day each, or roughly 1 tonne a week. When you add in the water that is used to make everything from electricity to a packet of crisps, this total rises to over 20 tonnes of water per person, per week. To learn more about how much water it takes to make day to day products see
www.waterfootprint.org

Sussex Wildlife Trust recognises how important water is to people and the environment. We work to help protect some of the most important wetlands in Sussex, to create Living Wetland Landscapes and to help people understand and conserve our important water resources.