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Energy resources: Water quality


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To judge what constitutes poor quality or polluted water, we must first understand the properties of naturally occurring waters. Natural water is not just H2O: all natural waters contain dissolved and suspended substances ­ seawater is an obvious example of water containing dissolved salts, but freshwater does also, although at a far lower concentrations. Water pollution is defined as a change in the quality of the water due to human activity that makes the water less suitable for use than it was originally. It is difficult to set absolute standards of purity that apply for all uses of water however, because water that is considered clean enough for one purpose may be too polluted for another.

This unit is from our archive and is an adapted extract from Earth's physical resources: origin, use and environmental impact (S278) which is no longer taught by The Open University. If you want to study formally with us, you may wish to explore other courses we offer in this subject area [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] .

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