Only a tiny fraction of Earth’s water is available as fresh water.
We’re already at the limits of supply in parts of the United States. But even with climate change and growing populations, there’s enough for everyone if we work together to keep it clean, use it wisely, and share it fairly.
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Where is our water?
95.7% of the water on earth is salty. 84% of water in the atmosphere comes from the oceans, than falls as rain.
Of the 2.5% of Earth's water that's fresh, about 70% is ice—and inaccessible. 
Of the 2.5% of Earth's water that's fresh, about 30% is groundwater. 
Of the 2.5% of Earth's water that's fresh, 0.3% is surface water (in lakes, rivers, and wetlands) or water vapor. 
Who takes fresh water?
3 big ideas to make water last
Take care of the ecosystems that supply us.
Share it because it belongs to everyone.
Learn to live within our water means.
Doug Pibel researched and edited this poster for Water Solutions, the Summer 2010 issue of YES! Magazine. Doug is managing editor at YES! Magazine. Research assistance by Berit Anderson, Ashlee Green, and Keith Rutowski.
Illustrations by Alexandre Dumas. www.alexdumas.net
Of the 2.5% of Earth’s water that’s fresh, about 70% is ice—and inaccessible.
Source: Igor Shiklomanov's chapter "World fresh water resources" in Peter H. Gleick (editor), 1993, Water in Crisis: A Guide to the World's Fresh Water Resources (Oxford University Press, New York). ga.water.usgs.gov/edu/earthwherewater.html
30.1% of all freshwater is fresh groundwater. ga.water.usgs.gov/edu/earthwherewater.html
“New York City was faced with the potentially enormous cost of an artificial water filtration plant, estimated at as much as $6-$8 billion, plus yearly maintenance expenses amounting to $300-$500 million….With vigorous lobbying, they won agreement from federal regulators to try an alternative: rather than pay for the costly new filtration plant, the city would spend the much smaller amount of about $1.5 billion to protect the upstate watershed, by buying land as buffers and upgrading polluting sewage treatment plants, among other tactics….” Gretchen C. Daily and Katherine Ellison, Orion Magazine, Spring 2002, www.orionmagazine.org/index.php/articles/article/110
"Drip irrigation typically saves between 30-50% of water used on crops and orchards." extension.osu.edu/%7Enews/story.php?id=481
Lawns: NY State Department of Environmental Conservation, www.dec.ny.gov/public/43534.htmlGolf: Golf Course Environmental Profile vol.2: Water Use and Conservation Practices on U.S. Golf Courses, Environmental Institute for Golf." www.eifg.org/programs/EIFG_GCEP_Vol_2.pdf
LA rainfall: "Los Angeles Rainfall, 1877-2005. NOAA www.wrh.noaa.gov/lox/climate/Los%20Angeles%20Yearly%20Rainfall%20-%20jo_8822_image001.gifLA Water usage: Los Angeles Urban Water Management Plan, 2005. www.ladwp.com/ladwp/cms/ladwp001354.jsp