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Water: Colorado's Precious Resource

 Water: Colorado's Precious Resource


Water is the world's most precious resource. Besides being essential for life, it stabilizes our climate, irrigates our crops, and lights our cities. Although 80% of the Earth's surface is covered by water, only 0.5% is usablefresh water. Humans are just one aspect of the larger ecosystem that is Planet Earth, and we share this resource with plant and animal species who also need water to survive. 

Of the available fresh water worldwide, 5% is used by households; 75% by agriculture; and 20% by industry. In Colorado, 10% of fresh water is used in the cities, while 90% is used by the agricultural community. 

Clean water is becoming harder and harder to find, thus we must take steps to protect and improve this resource. The impacts of pollution and population on water is the responsibility of us all. This unit on water strives to increase knowledge and understanding of water, watersheds, and environmental science, as well as providing students with tangible opportunities to become stewards of their local waterways. 



This activity introduces the concept of watershed. It will also help you to discover how much water is on the planet and how much of it we can actually use. 


  • Blowup Earth Ball 
  • Measuring tools (1000 ml beaker and smaller containers) 
  • Video The Power of Water 
  • Copy of worksheet All the Water in the World 

Activity #1 

Demonstration with blow-up earth ball 

Have everyone stand in a circle. Toss the globe back and forth to each other spinning it when it is thrown. Each time it is caught, notice where the right index finger lands. Someone should record where each person finger falls when they catch the earth ball: on ocean, land, lake. When everyone has caught the ball once, figure out the percentage of time people's fingers landed on water vs. land. Is it close to 80%? 

Demonstration with milliliter beakers 

The earth is 80% water, but not all of that water is fresh oraccessible. This demonstration will help you visually understandwhat percentage of water is in the oceans, icecaps and glaciers, groundwater, fresh water lakes, inland seas and salt lakes, the atmosphere, and all rivers. After this activity you will understand that the amount of fresh water available for use is only a faction of the water on the planet. See accompanying student worksheet. 

Activity #2 


The National Geographic video The Power of Water is an excellent introduction to water issues, available from the Water Resource Educator. Length is 55 minutes. The video is divided into 5 sections: Columbia River (10 minutes), The Great Lakes (10 minutes), Everglades (10 minutes), Ogalalla Aquifer (10 minutes) and the Colorado River and the Southwest (10minutes). See accompanying video worksheet.

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Last Page Update - Tuesday December 27, 2005