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Freshwater Reservoirs

Most of the freshwater on Earth is stored in glaciers situated in

inaccessible areas such as the Polar Regions and high mountains. The readily
available freshwater sources are the surface water reservoir and ground water

Glaciers and Ice Sheets

A glacier is a permanent body of ice, which consists largely of recrystallized snow.
In Polar Regions and high-altitude regions, not all of the snow that fall melts because of
very cols temperature even during summer. The unmelted snow is covered by another layer
the following winter. The snow gradually accumulates and becomes compacted, turning
into a mass of ice. The ice sheet is a mass of glacial land ice extending more than 50 000
km. There are currently ice sheets covering most of Greenland and America. During the
last ice age, ice sheets also extended to North America and Scandinavia.

Almost 90% is concentrated in Antarctica while the rest is found in Greenland and
in mountain glaciers. If the ice sheet in Greenland were to melt, it would cause the
global sea level to rise by 6 meters. If the Antarctic ice sheet melted, the sea level
would be about 60 meters.

Surface water reservoir

Surface waters include the streams, lakes, and wetlands where water
from rainfall, melting snow and ice, and ground water flows. They represent 0.3%
of earths total water resources. This resource is harnessed for irrigation,
recreation, transport, fishing, drinking, and hydropower.


A stream is a moving body of surface water that flows downslope toward

sea level because of gravity. It has clearly-defined passageway called channels
where paricles and dissolved substances are transported.

During heavy rain, water moves downhill in a process called overland flow. After a
short distance, water enters the channels and becomes streamflow. Overland flow
and stream flow contribute to surface runoff. These processes initiate the
transport of sediments along their sources, carving complex patterns in the


Lakes are large inland bodies of fresh or saline water. Its surfaces is
exposed to the atmosphere and is essentially flat. It forms in places where water
collects in a low area and behind natural or human made dams. Ponds are small
and shallow lakes. Dams are barriers constructed along streams to contain the
flow of water.

Geological processes form natural lakes. For example, a landslide or lava flow
could block a stream and create anatural barrier. Water will accumulate behind
the barrier and will form a lake. Collapse of volcanic creates also creates
depression that is eventually filled with water, like the crater lake of Mt. Pinatubo
and Tall Volcano.

Land areas where water covers the surface for significant periods is
referred to as wetlands. They vary in size from relatively large in flat areas to
small in steep areas. Wetlands are biologically diverse environment filled with
species that rely on both the land and water for survival. It is also a fragile
ecosystem that is sensitive to the amount and quality of water. The largest
wetland in the Philippines is ligawasan Marsh found in the province of
maguindanao, north cotabato, and sultan kudarat.

The types of wetlands include marshes, swamps, and estuaries.

marsh a shallow wetland around lakes, streams and oceans where grasses and reeds
are the dominant vegetation. The wetland in candaba Pampanga is an example of a
marsh ecosystem.

Swamp is a wetland with lush trees and vegetation found in low-lying areas beside
slow-moving rivers; oxygen in the water is typically low and swamp plants and animals
are adapted to these low-oxygen conditions. Mangrove forest are unique example of
swamp ecosystem that tolerates salty conditions.

Estuary is partly enclosed coastal body of water where fresh water from stream meets
the salt water from the sea. It is home to many organism that can tolerate the sharp
changes in salinity due to the constant change of salt content. The mouth of large rivers
such as Pampanga riverin manila bay is an estuary.

Wetlands harbour great biological diversity. It is important breeding ground for fish and
invertebrates. Its ability to trap water serves as a sponge that slows down stream flow and
minimizes floods, erosion, and sedimentation. Water trapped in the wetlands are also able
to seep into the ground and replenish the ground water. As a sponge, it also traps
pollutants that could other wise flow to other bodies of water.