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The process of taking or extracting water from a natural source (rivers, lakes, groundwater aquifers)

Acid rain

Caused by atmospheric pollution as a result of sulphur dioxide and nitrogen compounds in the air which combine with atmospheric water to form acids that fall as precipitation


The breeding, rearing, and harvesting of fish, shellfish, algae, and other organisms in all types of water environments. It is basically farming in water, rather than on land


Sections of soil and rock that hold groundwater (like rocky sponges)



The gradual accumulation of substances, such as pesticides or other chemicals, in an organism

Biosphere reserve

An ecosystem with plants and animals of unusual scientific and natural interest. It is a label given by UNESCO to help protect the sites


Confined aquifer

An impermeable rock layer preventing water from seeping into the aquifer from the ground surface directly above it. Instead, water travels down and across and eventually seeps into an unconfined aquifer farther away where the impermeable layer does not exist, often travelling large distances



A biological community of interacting living organisms and their physical environment. The living and physical components are linked together through nutrient cycles and energy flows


The study of the effects of toxic chemicals on biological organisms

Energy Mix

The specific combination of different energy sources a country, for example, uses to meet its energy consumption needs


Where particles or fragments are weathered from rock material


When a water body becomes enriched with nutrients which lead to the growth of algae


Where water returns to the atmosphere because water is heated up, so the water molecules change from liquid to gas



An area of flat land next to a river, formed mainly of river sediments and subject to flooding

Fluvial sediment

The process where water is the key agent for erosion

Food chain

How each living thing gets their energy

Food web

Systems of interlocking and interdependent food chains

Fossil water

An ancient body of water that has been contained in some undisturbed space, such as subglacial lakes or aquifers, and may have laid there for millennia


Gross domestic product

Measures the value of economic activity within a country. GDP is the sum of the market values, or prices, of all final goods and services produced in a country during a given period of time


Fresh water located in the subsurface pore space of soil and rocks that collects within aquifers


Hydraulic fracturing

An oil and gas well development process that typically involves injecting water, sand, and chemicals under high pressure into a bedrock formation via the well


Energy that can be harnessed from a continuous flow of water, such as a river. It is a renewable source of energy because the water cycle is constantly renewed by the sun


Liquid waste

Wastewater and sewage and include faeces and the contents of pit latrines and septic tanks


Nonpoint source pollution

Contamination derived from diffuse sources, where there are many sources or the source is unknown

Non-renewable water resources

Water resources that are not replenished or not for a very long time



Where water slowly trickles downwards

Point source pollution

When contamination originates from a single source that can be traced


The building of dykes and drainage canals in low lying reclaimed coastal areas


Recession agriculture

Where farmers capitalize on natural flows and sediments to irrigate and fertilize crops on floodplains

Renewable water resources

Water resources that are rechargeable due to the hydrological cycle (water cycle), comprising groundwater aquifers and surface water like rivers and lakes

Riverine flooding

When rivers fill to their capacity, often bursting their banks and causing flooding alongside the river


Sediment cycle

Starts with the process of erosion, whereby particles or fragments are weathered from rock material followed by the erosion of minerals, their transport and deposition, then burial

Sediment load

Particles eroded and carried by water

Solid waste

Anything in solid form that is discarded as unwanted, such as garbage


A person, group or organization with an interest or concern in something

Surface water

Water from precipitation (rain, snow, hail, sleet) falls on the land and runs over the surface collecting in rivers, streams and lakes, and ultimately drains into oceans


Tailing ponds

Areas where waterborne refuse material from mining operations is pumped to allow the sedimentation of solids from the water

Transboundary pollution

Contamination from one country impacts another country by crossing its borders


The process by which plants send water up through their stems, and deliver it from their leaves back into the atmosphere


Water that loses its transparency due to the presence of suspended particulates


Unconfined aquifer

Where water seeps from the ground surface directly into the aquifer


Water endowment

Renewable water resources per capita (the total sustainable water available per inhabitant) per year

Water table

The top of the groundwater

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