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Earth seen from Apollo 17 — the Antarctic ice sheet at the bottom of the photograph contains 61% of the fresh water, or 1.7% of the total water, on Earth.

Fresh water is naturally occurring water on Earth's surface in ice sheets, ice caps, glaciers, icebergs, bogs, ponds, lakes, rivers and streams, and underground as groundwater in aquifers and underground streams. Fresh water is generally characterized by having low concentrations of dissolved salts and other total dissolved solids. The term specifically excludes seawater and brackish water although it does include mineral-rich waters such as chalybeate springs. The term "sweet water" (from Spanish "agua dulce") has been used to describe fresh water in contrast to salt water. The term fresh water does not have the same meaning as potable water. Much surface fresh water and some ground water are unsuitable for drinking without some form of purification because of the presence of chemical or biological contaminants.


Fresh water sections
Intro   Systems    Sources    Water distribution    Numerical definition    Aquatic organisms    Fresh water as a resource    Accessing fresh water    See also    References    Further reading    External links   

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