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Is water a renewable resource?

freshwater sources depleting due to overconsumption and pollution
freshwater sources depleting due to overconsumption and pollution
Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images

What is a renewable resource? Many seem to believe it means the resource is infinite. While it is a source that renews itself overtime, what it actually means is that the resource is being replaced at a comparable or faster rate than it's consumption.This can be an issue when considering conservation of certain elements. Water has always been considered as renewable, however, it is time to start changing the way we view water as a resource. Over time peoples access to freshwater sources have changed and it is imperative that we work to maintain this vital resource.

As population, pollution, environmental patterns and agriculture change, it is important for the world to keep track of water quality and quantity. Even though water goes through a natural cycle of renewal, it is clear that if we continue at this pace of consumption the world will not be able to meet future demands. Water use has grown at a rate twice as large at the population in the 20th century putting extreme pressure on fresh water sources. This has caused a crisis limiting reliable water services all around the globe. It is estimated that if the current environmental and food production trends continue, the planet will not retain enough water to satisfy the global population within the next 50 years.

Water quality has also become a major issue in water distribution. While most freshwater can be renewed and redistribute through a natural process, once the water has become polluted the water cycle is not enough to renew and refresh those water sources deeming them unusable. Fertilizers and other man-made pollutions tend to be a problem involving deteriorating water quality. However, natural pollution such as fluoride and arsenic are harmful as well. As water pollution persists the transformation of this element from a renewable resource to a non renewable resource is heightened.

As we contemplate the definition of a renewable resource and it's relation to water, it is time we consider the facts of increased water scarcity around the world and make a conscious effort to conserve and protect our water sources. Acknowledging that the planets freshwater supply is finite is the first step in understanding the complexities of water scarcity and will aid in our ability to manage and assess future challenges.