Water – a drop of life

All living things need water to live. Read about ways to help youth appreciate water and not take it for granted.

Michigan is blessed to be surrounded by an abundance of water. We have four Great Lakes, countless inland lakes, rivers and streams. Plus, there is enough groundwater in Michigan that over 10 billion gallons of groundwater is pumped daily. This water is used for multiple purposes, such as drinking, irrigation, swimming, fishing, cleaning and many, many more uses. Yet, we all take water and its uses for granted. Everyone, youth to adults, should know and understand the value and importance water plays in our lives.

Water is the drop of life. No living organism can survive without water. Think about it; all plants require water to grow, from the smallest duckweed to giant white pines. Every mammal, large and small, needs water. Every insect, reptile, amphibian, fish, bird, human – the list goes on – all need water!

Water is one of the four components of habitat along with food, shelter and space. While all these components are important, water may be the most critical of all. Life can continue for a limited time without these three components, but without water, life ceases to exist.

Water is a great topic to discuss with youth and one that helps them understand the basic needs of life and the science behind it. Begin by discussing the water cycle. Why are there water shortages in some places and not in others? Continue by talking about the water in your home, and how we use it or interact with it. We all at some point take water for granted. What do you really know about the water you use? You turn on the faucet and you expect clean, fresh water to come pouring out, but where does it come from? How did it get to your house? Where does it go once it goes down the drain? These are important questions and topics to discuss with youth or your children.

With all the water we have in Michigan, you would think there wouldn’t be any issues. Yet water is fast becoming a precious commodity and one that many Michigan residents take for granted even though they have an abundance of it. What are the issues? Who has rights to water? How does water get contaminated? There are lots of water issue topics about water for discussion.

Youth and adults can learn much from asking some basic questions about water and searching for answers. In the end we will all be better educated and able to make sound decisions when it comes to water use. Ultimately, we learn to appreciate water as a valuable resource and not take it for granted.

Michigan State University Extension encourages participation in new experiences that are safe and expose youth to science involvement with 4-H Science: Asking Questions and Discovering Answers.

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