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Water Definitions March 26, 2009

Among the many environmental challenges the world faces today are issues relating to water quality and quantity. Information on many of these water issues is available to the public through various resources. However, the water industry (like so many others) uses its own jargon, which may be confusing to the layman (ie most of us!). Nevertheless, we need to be educated about water in order to know how to deal with all kinds of water-related problems because this precious resource is central to any vision of sustainability. Below is a beginning list of common terminology and definitions associated with water resources to get you started:

  • Brackish Water = Generally, water containing dissolved minerals in amounts that exceed normally acceptable standards for municipal, domestic, and irrigation uses. It has considerably less saline than sea water.
  • Blue Water = Water in the open seawater_surface_texture
  • Freshwater = Desirable water for drinking and many industrial uses. It must have a salinity of less than 0.5% (parts per thousand) dissolved salts or anything less than 1 milligram per liter of dissolved solids of any type.
  • Green water = The rainfall that infiltrates and remains in the soil is the largest freshwater resource and the basis for rain-fed agriculture.
  • Grey water = (gray water) Wastewater from washing machines, showers, bathtubs, hand washing, lavatories, and sinks that are not used for disposal of chemicals or chemical-biological ingredients.
  • Groundwater = Water that is part of the saturated zone of a defined aquifer. It moves slowly from places with high elevation and pressure to places of low elevation and pressure, such as rivers and lakes.
  • Hydrologic cycle = The circuit of water movement from the atmosphere to the earth and return to the atmosphere through various stages or processes such as precipitation, interception, runoff, infiltration, percolation, storage, evaporation, and transportation.
  • Non-point sources = Diffuse water pollution sources that are generally carried off by storm water without a specific point or origin, such as by agriculture or atmospheric disposal.
  • water_3
  • Point Sources = A stationary and identifiable location where pollutants are discharged, such as a pipeline or factory
  • Potable water = Water is safe for human consumption.
  • Run-off = The part of precipitation water the runs off the land into streams or other surface water.
  • Storm water = The flow of water that results from precipitation and which occurs immediately following rainfall or as a result of snowmelt.
  • Surface water = A source of drinking water and remains naturally exposed to the atmosphere such as rivers, lakes, and reservoirs.
  • Wastewater = The spent or used water from a home, community, farm, or industry that contains dissolved or suspended matter.
  • Watershed = An area that contributes water to a specified surface water drainage system because of a topographic slope, such as a stream or river.


3 Responses to “Water Definitions”

  1. Manuela Says:

    Great list of definitions – there are only a few that I already knew.

  2. The study of water is very complex and is in a variety of scientific disciplines including limnology (inland waters), oceanography (oceans) and meteorology (weather) to mention just a few.
    The oceans of the world are relatively unknown in regards to science. We do know the oceans are being overfished and the ‘dilution solution’ (pollution) is killing the oceans. I am not sure if the term ‘blue water’ still applies with human garbage, mainly plastic, floating in every corner of the oceans.
    I am an avid scuba diver and over the decades I have seen the pollution and devastation to coral reefs especially in the Florida Keys.

  3. […] a bowl of water to wash fruit & veggies then don’t drain it but use this grey water to water […]

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