GCSE Unit 2: A Watery World

Unit 2-Section B- Option: A Watery World
Download the knowledge organiser: A Watery World Edexcel GCSE Unit 2-Knowledge organiser

5.1 Water consumption and sources

a. The differences between the water consumption of LICs and HICs and the differences between domestic, agriculture and industry usage. Reasons for these differences.
Learning outcomes:
Describe the percentages of water used by agriculture, industry and domestic use in HICs and LICs.
Explain the reasons for these differences.
To understand that demand for water is continually increasing in HICs.

Key word: Water consumption: measured by comparing how much water used at home (domestically), for farming (agriculture) and industry.
Water consumption varies a great deal between countries at a different level of development.

-In LICs such as African countries, for instance, agriculture uses 85% of all the water, while domestic use accounts for 8% and 7% industry. However, in HICs such as European countries, most water is used in industry (54%) while agriculture uses 33% and domestic use is 13%.
Domestic usage:
HICs –personal hygiene (bathing and showering), kitchen appliances, gardening (hosepipes),washing cars, swimming pools.
LICshigh % no piped water to houses, rely on women and children walking to water source. (several km away), pots to carry heavy (20kg). -Water used sparingly, washing done by hand or in nearby river or lake.
Agricultural usage:
HICs use a much greater amount of water to irrigate their crops.
-The main reason is the type of irrigation methods used. Methods used in HICs such as automated spray use more water than those used in LICs such as hand worked bucket.
Industrial usage:

-Industry in HICs is mostly large scale with factories that use millions of litres of water.
-Industry in LICs is often small scale with business being run from homes or self-built units. These cottage industries will often use very little water. However:Multi-national companies move to LICs so water use greatly increases.
FQA: Describe, compare water use. Questions based on Figures e.g. divided bars and pie charts.
June 2014:
June 2014June 2014 2
b. Greater wealth and increasing levels of development are the major contribution to increasing water consumption.
As a country’s economy becomes stronger, then the wealth of the individual increases and there is more money available for luxuries.
(i) The range of demands for water is continually increasing in HICs from the ‘showering society’ to the use of labour-saving equipment such as washing machines:
– There has been an incredible growth of labour-saving devices such as washing machines and dishwashers that use a considerable amount of water.
-There has also been a change in personal hygiene. Before the 1950s it was quite common for there to be a weekly bath night. Now, people have bath or shower several times a week.
(ii) The growth of the leisure and tourism industry has seen huge demands on the use of water. For instance, in countries such as Spain which are very dry in the summer, so much water is used on golf courses and swimming pools that local communities often suffer water shortages.

Question: Explain how greater wealth affects water consumption. (4)
Examiner tips: When answering this type of question, focus on two points and develop each of them with full explanation. If you are going to comment on opposite contexts e.g. greater and less wealthy people, ensure that the point raised for each is different and not just a mirror-image statement, for example ‘people in HICs use greater amounts of water as they have bought more water hungry devices, whereas people in LICs cannot afford them therefore use less water’.
Higher scoring candidates tend to focus on the concept of showering societies as a reason for greater water use in HICs. Such candidates often develop answers beyond the simple description e.g. ‘people have more showers in HICs therefore use more water’. Higher scoring candidates more commonly give answers such as: ‘A higher income results in a greater amount of disposable income. This enables people to buy devices which use large amounts of water such as power showers. In addition, the fact that people shower at least once or twice per day, and for 10 minutes at a time on average, means that a larger amount of water is used.’
Remember to link points together with conjunctions to show the examiner the explanation in your answer.

The new command word for the linear GCSE is: Examine. This type of question asks from you to ‘offer a concluding comment which summarises the evidence presented, looks at the significance or effectiveness of the points covered’
Specimen paper: Examine why the importance of domestic, agricultural and industrial water usage changes as countries develop.(6)

c. On a local scale we obtain our water from reservoirs, groundwater and rivers.
Learning outcomes
To describe the sources of water on a local scale through the use of examples.

(i) Groundwater :
Key word: Aquifer: A porous rock formation that allows water to move in and then hold water in tiny holes, such as a layer of chalk. The aquifer must occur above a layer that prevents the water seeping away, such as clay. The highest level of water in an aquifer is known as the water table. To extract water from an aquifer a hole is drilled down to below the water table and pressure will cause the water to flow up the pipe to the surface. Traditionally, chalk aquifers around the River Thames basin were used to supply water to London. See Figure 12 page 129.
Explain why the extraction of water from aquifers can lead to problems.
-Mexico City built on aquifer.
-20 m population so aquifer drained quicker than can be replenished.
-Areas of city sinking. Pavements, roads cracked, walls buckled.
– City stopped pumping water in city centre, now from periphery wells.
-This has slowed sinking to about 2cm a year.

(ii) Reservoirs
Artificial lake of water held behind a dam to store water for irrigation, drinking, recreation, power or other use.
Best location: river valley in upland area with steep-sided slopes, act as natural walls. Rock underneath impermeable so water not leak away.
Example of reservoir :
Kielder Water Transfer Scheme, Northumberland, UK (See map page 130)

  1. Regulation reservoir. Holds 200 billion litres.
  2. It releases water into the North Tyne River.
  3. Huge pumps take water from the Tyne at Riding Mill and transfer it through a tunnel to the River Derwent, then to the River Wear and then to the River Tees.
  4. In this way, water treatment works can all be supplied with water from Kielder.
  5. The main towns and cities served by the reservoir include Newcastle, Sunderland and Middlesbrough.
  6. This reservoir gives plentiful water supplies to north-east England.

Kileder waterSource: Pictures of England

(iii) Rivers
Water supply can also be obtained directly from rivers.
Peace River (Florida)
Done to ensure adequate water supply to more than 750,000 people . Water from the river is treated at a treatment plant near Fort Ogden. Treated water is injected in an aquifer, which acts as a natural underground storage tank and is then recovered as needed.

d. Water surplus and deficit on a world scale, related to global rainfall patterns.
Learning outcomes:
To know the global pattern of rainfall.
Explain the relationship between this and areas of water surpluses/deficit.

Key words:
Water surplus: Some parts of the world receive more water than they lose through evaporation and transpiration.
Water deficit:  Other places have such high rates of evapotranspiration (caused by high temperatures) that they can lose more water than they receive during a given time period.

Mean Annual Potential Evapotranspiration

                  Mean Annual Potential Evapotranspiration

Water stress versus water scarcity: An area is experiencing water stress when annual water supplies drop below 1,700 m3 per person. When annual water supplies drop below 1,000 m3 per person, the population faces water scarcity, and below 500 cubic metres “absolute scarcity”.

Reasons for these differences:
(i) Variation of the amount of water received. For instance, some places such as Cyprus and Egypt receive less water than the UK or the Amazon Rainforest.
(ii) Some areas such as Cyprus and Egypt have very high evapotranspiration rates as temperature is high and water is lost.
(iii) Access to water varies according to economic factors. In many LICs a high percentage of people do not have piped water coming to their houses.

Specimen paper
Study Figure 5a.
Water stress specimen paper gcse(i) Describe the pattern of global water stress. (3)
(ii) Suggest possible reasons for this pattern. (3)

5.2 Water supply problems
a Water supply problems in HICs, including availability, quality, spatial and seasonal variability, and loss through broken pipes.
Learning outcomes:
To explain the problems associated with water supply in HICs.
Explain how poor management and unreliable supply impact on water supplies.
Use examples to illustrate this, e.g. the imbalance of rainfall and population between north and south in the UK, and the seasonal imbalance in rainfall on the Spanish Coast.

(i) Spatial variability
Rainfall and population imbalance in the UK (see Figures 16 and 17 page 132)
Population and rainfall unevenly distributed. Most of the rainfall occurs in the upland areas of the north and the west, but most of the people live in the south and the east. One-third of the UK’s population lives in south-east England but it is also the driest part of the UK with average annual rainfall of less than 800mm.Major cities are located in the south-east areas, which results in higher demand therefore more water supply problems.
(ii) Seasonal variability
Problem with the seasonal supply of water in many of the Mediterranean holiday areas, such as the Costa del Sol in Spain. This area receives most of the rainfall in the winter months and very little in the summer months-just at the time when the demand increases significantly because of the high numbers of holidaymakers and for irrigation to produce crops. Swimming pools have to be supplied with water and the gold courses need to be watered, as well as the demand for normal domestic use.
To meet this high demand the area has developed six major reservoirs. A desalination plant was built near Marbella. However, there are still problems sometimes meeting the demand. Restrictions are sometimes placed on the filling of swimming pools and water supply is sometimes cut during the night.
(iii) Annual Variability
Time of deficit in the amount of rainfall. For instance, in the UK, in 2005 and 2006 there were long periods where the rainfall was below average⇒ reservoir levels dropping and water restrictions. By contrast, 2007 saw a long wet period in the summer⇒ replenishment of reservoirs and aquifers.
Questions: Suggest reasons for the imbalance of rainfall and population between the north and the south of the UK. (4)
Describe the distribution of water surplus and deficit shown in Figure 6b. Use evidence from Figure 6b in your answer, (4)
June 12Examiner tip: Remember, when describing distribution, to give the overall pattern, variations within the pattern, anomalies to the pattern and either map evidence e.g, named areas or data.
Examiner report on describe distribution for spain(iv) Quality
The quality of drinking water in the UK is monitored by the Drinking Water Inspectorate.In 1992, 1.7% of their tests in England found water to be below the quality expected, but by 2007 this had fallen to less than 0.1%.
One of the reasons for the improved quality of drinking water is the work done by the Environmental Agency to reduce the use of certain fertilisers. When farms use nitrogen-based fertilisers it can lead to high levels of nitrates in local river water and groundwater.
However, pollution of river water can still result from industrial leaks ans spillage, as well as from inefficiencies in the sewage treatment plants that return treated water into rivers.
(v) Loss through broken pipes

In London, more than half of the water mains are more than 100 years old. The ageing pipes do not seem to affect the quality of water, but the problem is that they leak.Thirty per cent of the water supply is lost through leaks and cracks.

b. Water supply problems in LICs, including lack of available clean piped water, water-borne diseases and water pollution.
1.1 billion people has no access to any type of improved drinking source of water and 2.3 billion people in the world do not have access to adequate sanitation, one in three of the world’s population.

Describe the difference between water-borne disease and water pollution. (2)
Water-borne disease are those contracted by people from polluted water sources or from animals in the vicinity of the water source . Water pollution is the by-product of negative human activity on the water quality of the water course .
Explain the factors that can lead to a higher risk of water-borne diseases in LICs.
(i) Lack of access to clean piped water:
-Long walk to nearest water supply which could be also used by animals which carry disease and pass on through water.
– No alternative but to drink contaminated water due to poverty as people can’t afford to build pipes.
(ii) Inadequate sewerage facilities:
Human faeces and urine in rivers increase the chances of passing water-borne diseases as people use the rivers for drinking. It can lead to people contracting diseases such as cholera.
(iii) Limited knowledge of water-borne diseases
Other factors which explain the lack of access to clean drinking water:

Examples of water-borne diseases:
Cholera is a disease caused by bacteria from faeces getting into drinking water. Cholera is an acute diarrhoea disease that can kill within hours if left untreated.
Typhoid is a serious infection by bacteria. It is transmitted through the ingestion of food or drink contaminated by the faeces or urine of infected people. Without prompt treatment, it can cause serious complications and can be fatal.
Bilharzia is a life-threatening parasitic disease caused by a worm that lives in a host snail. Humans can become infected when they come in contact with water in ponds and rivers where the snail lives. Over 300 million people in LICs are thought to have this disease.

Water pollution
See case studies on the effects of resources extractions from tropical rainforests (Unit 1) page 30.

5.3 The management of water usage and resources
(a) How to manage water usage
(i) In HICs, in domestic, industrial and agricultural context.
Most common: use of water meters at home. Households with meters pay for the volume of water they use as recorded by the meter. The metering system encourages people to be careful about how much water they use.
Devise more efficient means of using water: have dual-flush toilets fitted. An old style single-flush toilet can use up to 13 litres of water in one flush. New, more efficient dual-flush toilets use only 6 litres for a full flush and 4 litres for a reduced flush.
Can be managed by using new manufacturing techniques and recycling water.
Recycled water can be used in factories, which leads to less water being extracted from local rivers. Example: Walkers Crisps in Leicester implemented engineering solutions such as recycling water from the starch recovery programme for use in another part of the production process. They also re-educated their staff about the use of water in the sanitation. Overall, Walkers Crisps has reduced its use of water by 50 per cent.
Use the case study on General Electric page 24.
Use of water in irrigation systems is being carefully managed by the use of modern, more efficient systems. Drip-feed and sprinkle systems use much less water than irrigation channels and ditches. It is estimated that drip systems are 90% efficient, with only 10% lost to evaporation, whilst channels and ditches may be only 50% efficient.
Question:  Explain how water usage can be managed in HICs. Use examples in your answer. (6)

Level 3: Two or more explained approaches. Likely to have location detail which could be from different places in the same geographic area or specific points linked to the explanation.

(ii) In LICs, including appropriate technology for water supply in small communities (boreholes, water conservation and recycling systems)
Appropriate technology:
Sustainable t
echnology which manages water for local people, is built and maintained by local people and without much cost.
1- Boreholes
A borehole is simply a deep narrow well that taps into the underground stores of water held in permeable rock known as aquifers.
Example: 12 boreholes have been built by Amref (African Medical and Research Foundation) in Katine region (Uganda). When the project started, less than half of Katine families – 42% – had access to safe drinking water. By the end of 2010, it was up to 73%. Just as important as digging wells has been helping communities maintain them. Each family pays 500 Ugandan shillings (about 15p) every month to a water committee that Amref has helped set up and train. There is a caretaker at each well, chosen from those who live close by, who collects the money and keeps an eye on things. The boreholes have significantly reduced cases of diarrhoea and worms, which were high among villagers.
Katine-borehole-Edith-Api-014Source: Katine Chronicles blog -The Guardian

2- Water recycling
In Kolkota, India, sewage water is recycled for use in fish farming and agriculture. Sewage is piped to shallow lagoons which allow sunlight to reach the bottom to promote growth of algae. Using aquatic plants like water hyacinth, dirt and some metals are removed and it is also purified by exposure to sunlight and aeration.

Question: Examine how appropriate technology is used for water supply in small communities in LICs. Use examples in your answer. (6)

b.The management of water resources through two case studies
(i) A dispute between countries over water transfer.
Conflict does not have to be fighting; it can just be a dispute.

Water conflict between countries in the Middle East: The Tigris-Euphrates River System

Reasons for the GAP
The Southeastern Anatolia Project (GAP) is a massive $32 billion project to harness the power and potential of the upper reaches of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers and to irrigate the fertile plains that lie between them. When completed, 21 dams and 17 hydroelectric power plants will produce approximately 22 per cent of Turkey’s projected electricity requirements.
Reasons for the conflict
Both rivers have their source in Turkey and then flow through Syria and Iraq. Turkey argues that GAP is beneficial to Syria and Iraq, as the low of the rivers is now more constant. However, tensions between these three countries are linked to the following potential impacts:
1- Decrease of volume of waters flowing into Syria and Iraq
After GAP, the waters of the Euphrates will decrease from 30 billion m³ a year at the Syrian border to 16 billion m³ a year and at the Iraqi border from 16 billion m³ a year to 5 billion m³ a year.
Syria has created the Tabaqah Dam used for irrigating cotton and is in the process of constructing another dam. Therefore, Iraq is in constant fear that Syria and Turkey will use up most of the water before it reaches Iraq.
2- Decrease of water quality
Some of the water used in Turkey will find its way back into rivers. However, the water quality will decrease as the used water will carry greater quantities of salt and chemicals caused by fertilisers and pesticides. is a massive $32 billion project to harness the power and potential of the upper reaches of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers and to irrigate the fertile plains that lie between them. When completed, 21 dams and 17 hydroelectric power plants will produce approximately 22 per cent of Turkey’s projected electricity requirements.

Question: Using and example, explain how water transfer schemes can lead to disputes (conflicts) (6)

(ii) A water management scheme, showing why the scheme was necessary and its effects on people and the environment. The different views expressed by individuals, organisations and governments about the value of such scheme.
The Three Gorges dam-located on the Yangtze river. (China)
(a) Reasons for the dam:
The Chinese Government had four goals for the Three Gorges Dam project:
1. The main reason that the Three Gorges dam was built was to prevent flooding further downstream. The history of the Yangtze River includes many devastating floods over the centuries killing thousands of people and causing millions of dollars in damages. The dam will reduce the impacts of flooding since it has a flood control capacity of around 22 billion cubic meters.
2. Power Generation: It is the largest hydroelectric power station in the world. The flow of water turns 26 turbines built in the dam. The use of hydroelectric turbine generators reduces China’s dependency on coal, a hydro carbon that produces greenhouse gases.
3. Navigation: The presence of the dam, the reservoir, and the ship locks allow large ships to travel up and downstream for the first time. Ships from Chongquing are able to transport goods all the way to the sea at Shanghai.
4. Tourism: The Three gorges dam was built across the Yangtze River to control the amount of water allowed through. This created a massive artificial lake which has become an international tourist attraction.

(b) Negative effects of the dam
Around 1.4 million people have had to move because their villages and towns have been lost beneath the dam. The displaced people have had to move to new settlements.
Landslides :
Landslides caused by the huge weight of water behind the dam and fluctuations in the water level. The reservoir has already collapsed in 91 places and a total 36km have caved in.
Dam contributed to the extinction of the Yangtze river dolphin and Yangtze surgeon negatively affected.
High level of pollution currently in the river due to more than 1 billion tonnes of wastewater released annually into the river. Water quality deteriorating as the river is less able to disperse pollutants effectively.

(c) Positive effects
Economic growth: 

New navigable waterway⇒ mass transit of raw materials to the area allowing massive economic growth. + reduced transport costs ⇒attractive location for industry. + new railway, highway and airport will open up the region for industrial development.
Flood control:
Flood control capacity sufficient to control the greatest flood experienced in the past 100 years. It will protect 1,500,000 hectares of farmland and the lives and property of 15 million people.
Power generation:
Amount of energy produced by the hydroelectric turbines = 18 nuclear power stations
-Allowed container shipping from Shanghai to Chongqing, the biggest city of south-east China.
– Improved and cheaper river transport
– Improved navigation in the drier season when water levels used to be low.

Different views: Book page 146
Question: For a named water management scheme, explain why groups may have different views about the value of the scheme. (6)
Examiner tip:
Focus on the views of the different groups and use the facts of the case study to support your answer on viewpoints, Conclude by an overall summary of viewpoints.


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