Freshwater Facts: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Mary Beth Burns

Mary Beth has taught 1st, 4th and 5th grade and has a specialist degree in Educational Leadership. She is currently an assistant principal.

Freshwater environments are very important for the human population and the environment. Learn how to define freshwater, identify freshwater species, and explain the benefits of freshwater, as well as the environmental issues that these ecosystems are facing.

Defining Fresh Water

There are two types of water in the world - salt water and fresh water. Have you ever gone swimming in the ocean and accidentally swallowed some of the water? It tasted salty, right? Well, you won't have the same yucky taste in your mouth if you swallow water in a lake or a pond (although, I wouldn't recommend it). These bodies of water that have low levels of salt, typically less than 1%, are called freshwater.

Some freshwater regions are known as stagnant water because the water stays still, like a pond, lake or even a puddle of water left from a rainstorm. Wetlands, like marshes or swamps, are also types of freshwater bodies that are heavily populated with trees and vegetation. Other freshwater regions are known as flowing water because the water is constantly moving, like in a river or a stream.

Freshwater Animals

Freshwater ecosystems have a great amount of diversity with many animals living in these environments, both stagnant and flowing. Some animals, like trout, can only live in flowing freshwater because they need the movement of the water to survive. Most of the animals are unable to survive in a saltwater environment. Many different mammals, reptiles, birds, amphibians and fish live in freshwater. The American alligator is an example of a reptile that lives in freshwater swamps, marshes or rivers. Once on the endangered species list (because its skin is used to make leather) the American alligator has been off of the list since 1987. Other animals that live in freshwater habitats include ducks, catfish, otters, turtles and many more. In fact, around 40% the world's fish live in freshwater environments.

Benefits of Freshwater

Freshwater environments are very important to the world because they are where we get our drinking water. Human beings need water to survive, so having access to freshwater ecosystems is key to our survival. Freshwater also has agricultural benefits, because water is a critical ingredient in farms and gardens.

A hydroelectric power station

There are forms of energy production that are dependent on fresh water, like hydroelectric power. Hydroelectricity is a preferred way to produce energy because it is quick, cheap, and easy. Water builds up behind a dam, and there is a great force when it is released. The water goes through a generator, which makes it possible for millions of people to turn their lights on and off every day.

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