28. "Water, water, everywhere,
And all the boards did shrink;
Water, water, everywhere,
Nor any drop to drink."
How much of the Earth's water, which covers 70% of the planet's surface, is fresh water?
From Quiz Red Sky at Morning
Answer: Less than three percent
Of that three percent, about two percent is locked up in glaciers and the like, with half to three-quarters of the remainder in the form of groundwater and soil moisture. In fact only about 0.01 percent of the Earth's water occurs as fresh water in our lakes, rivers and swamps.
Demand for fresh water is fuelled by many things, the main driver ultimately being population growth. In the last two centuries, the world's population went from a billion to six billion in 1999. It reached seven billion in 2011 and continues to grow. According to the United Nations, water use has grown at twice the population rate. The competition for fresh water is affecting many of the world's environments with large-scale loss of fauna and flora the result, sometimes leading to desertification. Some foresee that water-related conflicts will be increasingly common.
The quote comes from Samuel Taylor Coleridge's poem "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner".