Water, water everywhere . . .

March 01, 1994|By Chicago Tribune

Some fun facts to impress your friends around the water cooler.

* There is no water on the moon, which is why it has so many craters. When megatons of space matter were flying around megacenturies ago, the Earth had its own share of pockmarks, which later were mostly smoothed out by oceans, rivers and streams. Mars and Venus also have no seas or rainfall, making it unlikely there is any form of life on either planet.

* The Earth's available fresh water represents about one-half percent of its supply. About 97 percent of the planet's water is saltwater and another 2 percent is locked in icecaps and glaciers. Vast reserves of fresh water are under the Earth's surface, but much of it is too far from the surface for cost-effective tapping.

* The United States uses 1,300 gallons of water per person each day -- most of that is used for agriculture. For example, to produce a pound of meat requires an average of 2,500 gallons of water -- or about the amount a typical family uses for household purposes in an entire month.

* Our daily consumption is three times as much as the average daily per capita consumption of a European country and much more than developing nations.

* We don't use much of that water for drinking. According to Beverage Industry magazine, annual per capita consumption of tap water was 34.1 gallons in 1992. The figure is actually up a half-gallon after a 20-year downturn from 1970 to 1990.

Observers attribute the increase to the economic times -- 180 glasses of tap water still cost only a penny -- and to Perrier's benzene scare in 1990.

* To a growing number of water drinkers, it is worth the extra money to buy bottled water. Americans averaged 9.9 gallons of the stuff in 1992.

* Some historians say lead poisoning explains the fall of the Roman Empire, theorizing the population went slightly crazy from the effects of drinking water tainted with lead.

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