What is the water cycle?
The amount of water on Earth never changes. In fact, every drop we drink has been in use for billions of years. That’s because the water cycle continuously recycles the water we use. This means when you drink a glass of water, it’s quite possible a T-Rex may have already drunk it years before you. Read below to see how the water cycle works, or download our poster.
Heat energy from the sun causes water to turn into water vapour (evaporate) into the atmosphere from sea, lakes and the soil.
Air currents containing the water vapour rises over higher ground, taking it into cooler regions of our atmosphere. The cooler temperature causes the condensation of water vapour to form clouds.
Air currents cause clouds to move around the Earth and across sea and land. As the clouds cool, precipitation occurs as snow, sleet, hail or rain. This returns water into the Earth’s oceans, seas, lakes and rivers.
We collect water from streams, rivers, lakes and groundwater sources including aquifers, boreholes and wells. This is stored in small quantities for personal use or in reservoirs ready for distribution and treatment.
The collected water is treated by us at our water treatment works. Once cleaned and tested, the clean water is distributed via pipes to homes, businesses and industry. All of our wonderful water is tested by the Environment Agency and Drinking Water Inspectorate for quality.
Dirty and used water from your home, as well as from local businesses and industries is sent back to us through our network of sewers and drains. Our job is to clean it at the sewage treatment works. Clean water from the sewage treatment works is then returned to streams and rivers.