Surface water

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Water in between the green mountains

Surface-water sources include rivers, lakes, streams, and oceans. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, any surface water that is less than 1,000 milligrams per liter (mg/L) of dissolved solids is considered freshwater whereas the rest of it is salt water.[1]


Inside Surface-Water

According to the AGI (American Geoscience Institute), surface water and groundwater systems are alike in several different ways in most landscapes: (1) the inflow of the groundwater gives stream water through their streambed, (2) the outflow of the groundwater takes away the stream water through the stream-bed, and or (3) they both depend on the location of the stream. Groundwater contributes to keeps streams flowing with water through the precipitation, such as rain, or snow. Water movement between groundwater and surface water systems can mix up the quality of water. [2]

Water Cycle

According to the USGS, the water used for everyday resources have always been a part of the water cycle. The USGS has teamed up to illustrate a water cycle diagram. First, the sun is the primary source to make the water cycle work. The sun evaporates water from oceans, lakes, rivers and streams into the atmosphere, which becomes water vapor. Then, water vapor invisibly flows up into the sky and turns into clouds. After a while, the clouds will drop precipitation onto the earth. The precipitation will then fall onto the ground and flow downhill as runoffs, providing even more water for lakes, streams, rivers, and oceans. The precipitation may also fall onto the ground and soak into the soil. Finally, the sun repeats the water cycle with condensation and evaporation. [3]

Water Use

A cup of water

Access of Water on Earth

Seventy percent of Earth is covered by water. Less than three percent of that water is freshwater, and most of that is actually unavailable for drinking or for agriculture. Almost two thirds of this freshwater is contained in glaciers; lakes and rivers hold 100,000 km³ globally, which gives less than one percent of water for environmental use. [4]

Human Water Use

According to the USGS (United States Geological Survey), in 2005, 77 percent of freshwater came from surface-water resources for the United States, whereas the rest of the 23 percent came from groundwater. The United States withdrew a total of 328 billion gallons of water, on average, for everyday use, during that same year. [5] The watershed evaluates surface water resources. According to the 2010 surface water- use data, the United States used up to 275 billion gallons of water daily, on average, which is actually 13 percent less than the 2005 water-use. [6]

Pollution in Water

Polluted creek in the city of Mumbai

Meteorological Effects of Pollution

The AGI argues that the surface waters and their ecosystems are domain to many plants and animal species. Surface waters are designed to provide most of the off-stream water use in the United States. As a response to human activity and climate, the stream-flow will vary. Streams can abstractly indicate what is happening to our watershed. Furthermore, the characteristics of the watershed and climate effects water flow. For example, storms can invisibly create a negative impact on water quality, with water-runoffs, full of pollutants that flow into streams. [7]

Socioeconomic Effects of Pollution

According to the National Geographic Society, water is a natural resource that we, as humans, need to live. In fact, most of our body is water. Having clean water is not a given reality everywhere on this planet. In other words, many people die every day from water related diseases, which are most likely from drinking filthy water. The National Geographic Society also says that politics, economics and climate often impact issues of access to safe water. For example, the National Geographic Society says that some places may not even have groundwater pumps, while other places may be losing the natural resources that other people need, from previous droughts. [8]. According to Adesuyi and his colleagues, the major sources of surface water pollution are mainly the factorial and industrial practices of people. Chemicals such as lead, nitrogen, and sulfate are pollutants in most water bodies. Pollution in rivers in Nigeria is increasing due to the increase of the population. [9]

Aquatic Effects of Pollution

According to the James MacDonald, the changes in the climate have caused the deprivation in oxygen in our oceans. Surface waters are, in some aspect, connected to the atmosphere and full of oxygen. Surface waters flow right into the ocean with oxygen, but then, the ocean deprives of oxygen as the water becomes deeper. However, the oxygen and warm water do not mix very well because as the temperature increases, the oxygen would most likely flow back into the atmosphere. [10] According to NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration), the Chesapeake Bay, which is home to many species, such as crabs, and fish, has been crippled due to pollution in the local community. NASA also argues that according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Chesapeake Bay has been marked as one of the filthiest bays in the nation. The Chesapeake Bay has carried harmful pollutants, such as sentiments from erosion, excessive nutrients and other contaminants from its watershed. The Chesapeake Bay runoff feeds algae blooms that take over the oxygen in the water, which is what water species rely on. [11]

Drinkable Water

Most scientists in major cities have to use chemicals to make water drinkable. According to Philadelphia Water Department-Water Commissioner and her scientists, the water that we drink comes from rivers. In fact, the department scientists say that our drinking water obtains chemicals to make the water drinkable instead of contaminated. [12]


According to NASA, the Surface Water Ocean Topography (SWOT) mission brings two communities together to focus on understanding the ocean and its surface waters on Earth. Both oceanographers and hydrologists from both sides of the Earth, (One from the United States and the other one from France), have come together to work on this new establishment to test the Earths water and supervise how bodies of water change overtime. SWOT is a satellite mission which will analyze the water bodies on Earth. [13]

See Also

Other closely related articles in this wiki include:


  1. U.S. Geological Survey. (2016, May 2). USGS: Surface-water use in the United States., USGS (United States Geological Survey). Retrieved September 8, 2016.
  2. American Geosciences Institute. (2016). How do groundwater and surface water interact?, Retrieved September 22, 2016.
  3. Perlman, H., & Gonthier, G. (2016, June 20). The water cycle for schools., USGS (United States Geological Survey). Retrieved September 15, 2016.
  4. Adesuyi, A. A., Jolaoso, A. N., Longinus, K., & Nnodu, V. C., (2015, October). Nitrate and Phosphate Pollution in Surface Water of Nwaja Creek. Retrieved September 14, 2016. International Journal of Geology, Agriculture and Environmental Sciences 3(5). Anu Jolaoso - doi:10.4236/gep.2016.41002
  5. Perlman, H. (2016, May 2). Surface water use, the USGS water science school., USGS (United States Geological Survey). Retrieved September 8, 2016.
  6. U.S. Geological Survey. (2016, May 2). Surface-water use in the United States., USGS (United States Geological Survey). Retrieved September 8, 2016.
  7. American Geosciences Institute. (2016). What is surface water and what affects its availability?, Retrieved September 22, 2016.
  8. National Geographic Survey. (2015). Drinking water and sanitation., National Geographic. Retrieved September 26, 2016.
  9. Adesuyi, A. A., Jolaoso, A. N., Longinus, K., & Nnodu, V. C., (2015, October). Nitrate and Phosphate Pollution in Surface Water of Nwaja Creek. Retrieved September 14, 2016. International Journal of Geology, Agriculture and Environmental Sciences 3(5). Anu Jolaoso - doi:10.4236/gep.2016.41002
  10. MacDonald, J. (2016, May 16). Our oceans are suffocating. JSTOR Daily. Retrieved September 26, 2016.
  11. Freeberg, A. (2016, September 6). An Earth Day perspective: NASA satellites aid in Chesapeake Bay Recovery « Landsat Science., NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration). Retrieved September 15, 2016.
  12. Philadelphia Water Department. (2016). Drinking Water Quality Report., Retrieved October 7, 2016.
  13. Thomas, K. (2014, February 12). Surface Water Ocean Topography (SWOT), NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration). Retrieved September 27, 2016.

External links

Relevant online sources to this wiki article include: