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Most decisions about water use are made by ordinary people, such as farmers and factory managers. Experts say children who learn about water at a young age can become leaders in meeting our planet’s challenges.

We can begin with the water cycle. We never get “new” water. Nature recycles water over and over again. Here’s how it works:

1. The sun shines on lakes, rivers, streams and oceans. Heat turns water into invisible water vapor. This is called evaporation.

2. The vapor rises into the sky, where it cools. When it gets cold enough, the vapor turns into clouds. This is condensation. Air currents move clouds all around the Earth.

3. The clouds get cooler. Tiny drops of water vapor turn into rain, snow, sleet or hail. We call this precipitation. Snow may melt and turn into runoff, which flows into rivers and the ocean, as well as into the ground.

4. Most precipitation falls back into the ocean, but some falls on land. Most of the water eventually finds its way back into the ocean through rivers and underground sources. Some of the runoff seeps into the ground. Plants use the water, and it evaporates from their leaves.

Color this water cycle diagram and hang it in your room or classroom. It will remind you about how we use water and how we can conserve it!

The Water Cycle