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How water gets to my tap

About this lesson

Students will be introduced to the three major water sources and gain insights into the different ways water reaches our taps.


Year level: 1, 2

Theme: Water supply


Learning objectives

Students can:
  • describe the journey of water to our taps
  • recognise that water we use can come from surface water (dams), under the ground (groundwater), or the ocean (desalination)
  • understand that most water requires treatment before it is suitable to drink.

Curriculum links

Science

  • To represent and communicate observations and ideas in a variety of ways such as oral and written language, drawing and role play ACSIS029; ACSIS042

English

  • Engage in conversations and discussions, using active listening behaviours, showing interest, and contributing ideas, information and questions ACELY1656

Things you will need

Lesson description

 Discuss

  • Ask students – what do you do if you want a drink of water?
  • When we go to the tap and turn it on, water comes out but where does it come from? Explain that the water in our taps probably traveled a long way to get there.
  • Watch the Catchment to tap video (1:20) and brainstorm the stages water might have gone through on its journey from the sky to the school.

Activity

  • Display or hand out the activity sheet.
  • Discuss the 3 ways we get drinking water.
  • Ask students what they think happens inside a treatment plant. What do they think happens inside a desalination plant?
  • Distinguish between surface and groundwater sources.

Reflect & summarise

  • What new information have students learnt about the water in our taps?
  • What else would they like to find out about? Do students know if they get their water from a water bore or from pipes at home? They could find out and report back to the class.

Extension activities

Teacher background information

Our water sources

Water in WA comes from three major sources: surface water, groundwater and desalination. Surface water is obtained from dams on rivers and groundwater is obtained from large natural underground storages called aquifers. In the Perth metropolitan area and in a few other places throughout the state, desalinated seawater is also used for scheme water supply. Rainwater tanks supply small volumes of water to some households.

Integrated Water Supply Scheme

The Perth metropolitan area is supplied by the Integrated Water Supply Scheme (IWSS), which also supplies Mandurah, Pinjarra, Harvey, Waroona, Binningup, Myalup, Yarloop and towns serviced by the Goldfields Pipeline.

It is called an integrated scheme because water is drawn from an integrated network of dams, groundwater and seawater sources. In some northern metropolitan areas, water supplied is from groundwater sources alone, while in other areas of Perth the supply may be from dams or a mixture of sources.

Surface water

Dams servicing the metropolitan area include Canning, Serpentine, North and South Dandalup, Wungong, Victoria, Bickley and Churchmans Brook. Mundaring Weir provides water to towns along the Goldfields Pipeline, to agricultural districts and at times to Perth.

Other major dams throughout WA include Harris Dam, which supplies water to 32 towns in the Great Southern region and Harding Dam near Roebourne, which supplies towns in the West Pilbara region including Karratha.

Groundwater

Groundwater is water that occupies the spaces between particles of soil (sand, silt and clay) or rock beneath the earth’s surface. The source of groundwater is rain, which infiltrates the soil. Groundwater moves quickly through sandy soils and reaches the water table. As a result, large volumes of groundwater can often be pumped from wells (bores) sunk in sandy soils.

Desalination

The Perth Seawater Desalination Plant has been producing fresh drinking water since 2007 at a capacity of 45 billion litres a year. Located in the Kwinana industrial area on the coast south of Perth, the plant supplies desalinated water to the IWSS.

A second seawater desalination plant located in Binningup in the South West began operating in 2013, and supplies up to 100 billion litres of fresh drinking water to Perth a year.

Today, the two desalination plants combined provide almost half of Perth’s water needs.

Resources

Did you know?

A catchment is an area of land that intercepts water and from which, water flows into one point (like a river or stream).

Key vocabulary

  • Desalination: the removal of salt   
  • Fresh water: water with low salt content; generally less than 1000mg per litre   
  • Groundwater: water that is held underground in the rock and soil   
  • Surface water: water that is collecting either on the ground, in a stream, river, lake, wetland, dam or ocean
  • Well (bore): a hole that is dug or drilled through the ground surface into an aquifer to withdraw or monitor groundwater