Running Dry

Running Dry | IELTS Academic Reading Sample Question

The passage contains the following question types from IELTS Reading Question Types:

  • Summary Completion
  • Matching information
  • Yes No Not Given

Running Dry

You should spend about 20 minutes on Questions 1-13 which are based on Reading Passage

The problems of water shortages have always been with us. Worldwide consumption of water is doubling every 20 years, a solution is desperately needed.

A. Government water commission maps in Mexico show 96 overexploited aquifers1. Seawater has polluted 17 others because of too much pumping, while toxic seepage is spreading fast. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), Mexican children are contracting digestive diseases due to poor water storage. Mexico City, built eight centuries ago atop vast lagoons, cannot adequately supply water for its 22 million inhabitants, bike many cities in the world, less than half of the city’s waste is treated. The rest sinks into underground lakes or flows toward the Gulf of Mexico, turning rivers into sewers. This presents an extremely difficult prospect for Mexico’s future. The Mexican National Water Commission lists some 35 cities that must shrink dramatically unless more water can be found. A forced exodus from parched cities seems far-fetched, and no one suggests it will happen next week but it is a spectre haunting Mexico’s future.

B. Much of the water that Mexico depends upon is the same water that is badly needed in California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas. One forecast is that Corpus Christi, Texas (population: 277,454), will run out of water around 2018. In the meantime the problem is getting worse. Deputy director of the Mexican National Water Commission Cantu Suarez reports, “In Oaxaca, south of Mexico City, women line up at dawn to fill a few plastic containers from a passing water truck. In Alamos, far to the north, ancient aquifers are pumped at five times the sustainable rate.”

C. Mexico is only one example of desperation in a world running short of water. Parts of the earth are dying, with fields poisoned by salt and village wells running dry. And there are legal battles looming. The Colorado River, drained by 10 U.S. states with their own water crises, is a muddy trickle by the time it reaches the rich farmland of Baja California. Under complex water agreements with the United States, Mexico can take water from the Rio Grande but must pay it back. President Vicante Fox has promised to pay the debt, which amounts to enough to put the state of Delaware under a flood of water. But with Mexico already so short of water, it is not realistic to think it can happen.

D. Canada with its thousands of lakes and rivers would be viewed by most people as having an inexhaustible water supply. In comparison to Africa and other dry- places, most of Canada’s waters are pristine. But the cumulative effect of mistreatment over the years has taken an evident toll. The cities of Victoria on the west coast and Halifax on the east still dump billions of litres of raw sewage into their oceans. The world’s biggest freshwater basin, the Great Lakes, are described as a chemical soup not fit to drink from or swim in. Some concerned experts view them as loaded with toxic chemicals, heavy metals, pesticides and sewage. Far too many rivers and streams in Canada have been badly contaminated by industrial activity.

E. Humans can live about a month without food but only a few days without water. Because 70 percent of the human body is water, weight loss in some quick diets is dramatic due to water loss. Of all the water in the world, only about 2.5 percent is fresh and two thirds of this is locked up in glaciers and ice caps. Nobody knows how much water is underground or in permafrost2. All life on earth is sustained by a fraction of one percent of the world’s water. If a five- litre jug (about 1.3 gallon) represented the world’s water, the available fresh water would not quite fill a teaspoon.

F. Overall, in most parts of the planet there is enough water to supply human needs. The huge problem however, is the rapidly increasing populations in places that lack adequate water resources, as well as mismanagement of available resources. Canada, with only 0.5 percent of the world’s population, has 5.6 percent of its usable fresh water supply. China, with 22 percent of the population on earth, has only 5.7 percent of usable fresh water. We cannot just move fresh water to where it is most needed – like in the Sahara, Ethiopia, Somalia or India.

G. In January 2000, the Newfoundland government identified a dozen of its communities with high levels of potentially dangerous THMs (trihalomethanes) in water supplies. In an attempt to solve this issue the main solution put forward by scientists is sterilisation of the water. However, this approach can also be the cause of problems. Drinking such water over a long period can cause bladder and colon cancers, but health experts maintain the benefits far outweigh these risks. As a result, the bottled water business is booming. In just one decade, sales have surged from $2.6 billion to $7.7 billion in the United States of America alone. This represents a 10 percent growth rate for the past 10 years. But is it safe? Canadian standards for testing bottled water are lower than those for municipal supplies, so there are no assurances that bottled water is any better than tap water.

H. At the start of the 20th century, there were 1.65 billion people; 100 years later there are more than 6 billion, and the United Nations estimates there will be nearly 9 billion by 2050. But the annual supply of renewable fresh water will remain the same, so the amount of water available to each person decreases and the population grows, raising the possibility of water shortages. The supply of water to the future is a major issue that will confront tomorrow’s leaders.

(1)  aquifers: underground bed yielding ground water for wells and springs

(2) 2 ground that is permanently frozens

Question 1-4

Reading Passage 1 has eight paragraphs A-H.
Which paragraph contains the following information?
Write the correct letter A-H in boxes 1-4 on your answer sheet.

1)   where most fresh water is located in the world
2)   a way Mexican women obtain water
3)   the effect of waste upon Mexican rivers
4)   Mexico’s financial commitment for its water

Question 5-8

Do the following statements agree with the claims of the writer in Reading Passage 1 ?
In boxes 5-8 on your answer sheet write

YES                             if the statement reflects the claims of the writer
NO                              if the statement contradicts the claims of the writer
NOT GIVEN             if it is impossible to say what the writer thinks about this

5)   Unhealthy water is causing illness amongst Mexican children.
6)   Mexicans are moving to other cities because of water shortages.
7)   Mexican food crops will fail without water from America.
8)   Drinking water in Canada has been polluted by industry.

Question 9-13

Complete the summary of paragraphs F-H below.
Chose NO MORE THAN THREE WORDS from the passage for each answer.

Write your answer in boxes 9-13 on your answer sheet.

The main issue that confronts cities with poor water supplies is their growing 9)____________ . Canada, which contains 10)_______________ of the world’s fresh water, has dealt with water pollution in some cities through a process of 11)_________________ . Although treated for dangerous pollution, some health experts believe city water to be a cause of 12)_____________ . Not all people are content to drink town water and this has added to a demand for 13)_____________

Answers for IELTS Reading Sample Question

1)    E
Read the information in the questions carefully and determine the key words.
The key words are “most fresh water, located”
Scan the passage looking for those key words or synonyms of them.
Paragraph E states, ‘Of all the water in the world, only about 2.5 percent is fresh and two thirds of this is locked up in glaciers and ice caps.”
Double check your answer by comparing the overall point of the paragraph with the question

2)   B
Read the information in the questions carefully and determine the key words.
The key words are ‘Mexican women, obtain water”
Scan the passage looking for those key words or synonyms of them.
Paragraph B states, “In Oaxaca, south of Mexico City, women line up at dawn to fill a few plastic containers from a passing water truck.”
Double-check your answer by comparing the overall point of the paragraph with the question

3)    A
Read the information in the questions carefully and determine the key words.
The key words are “effect of waste, Mexican rivers”
Scan the passage looking for those key words or synonyms of them.
Paragraph A states, “Like many cities in the world, less than half of the city’s waste is treated. The rest sinks into underground lakes or flows toward the Gulf of Mexico, turning rivers into sewers.”
Double check your answer by comparing the overall point of the paragraph with the question

4)    C
Read the information in the questions carefully and determine the key words.
The key words are “Mexico, financial commitment, water”
Scan the passage looking for those key words or synonyms of them.
Paragraph C states, “Under complex water agreements with the United States,
Mexico can take water from the Rio Grande but must pay it back. President Vicante Fox has promised to pay the debt…”
Double check your answer by comparing the overall point of the paragraph with the question

5)   Y
locate the key word(s) in the question
key words are illness and children – scan for them (or synonyms of them read in detail to “… children are contracting digestive diseases due to poor water storage.”
key words are Mexicans, moving and water shortages – scan for them or synonyms of them
read in detail to ‘A forced exodus from parched cities… no one suggests it will happen next week…”

7)   NG
There is nothing in the passage about this!

8)  Y
locate the key word(s) in the question
key words are drinking water, Canada, polluted, industry – scan for them or synonyms of them
read in detail to ’… too many rivers have been contaminated by industrial activity’

9)   population(s)
Identify the key words and summary sentences.
In the first sentence “main issue, cities, poor water” are the key words.
Scan the paragraphs for the key words or synonyms of those key words.
Read the sentenced) which relate to the key words. In paragraph F, the passage states that “The huge problem (main issue) however, is the rapidly increasing populations in places that lack adequate water resources (their water is poor)… “

10)    5.6 percent
Identify the key words and summary sentences.
In the first half of the second sentence “Canada, world’s fresh water” are the key words.
Scan the paragraphs for the key words or synonyms of those key words.
Read the sentence(s) which relate to the key words. In paragraph F, the passage states that “Canada, with only 0.5 percent of the world’s population, has 6 percent of its usable fresh water supply.”

11)   sterilisation
Identify the key words and summary sentences.
In the second half of the second sentence ‘dealt with water pollution, process” are the key words.
Scan the paragraphs for the key words or synonyms of those key words.
Read the sentence(s) which relate to the key words. In paragraph G, the passage states that “In an attempt to solve this issue the main solution put forward by scientists is sterilisation of the water.”

12)   cancer(s)
Identify the key words and summary sentences.
In the third sentence “dangerous pollution, health experts, cause” are the key words.
Scan the paragraphs for the key words or synonyms of those key words.
Read the sentence(s) which relate to the key words. In paragraph G, the passage states that “Drinking such (treated/sterilised) water over a long period can cause bladder and colon cancers.”

13)   bottled water
Identify the key words and summary sentences.
In the fourth sentence ‘not all people, drink town water, added, demand for (an increase or a demand for something)” are the key words.
Scan the paragraphs for the key words or synonyms of those key words.
Read the sentence^) which relate to the key words. In paragraph F, the passage states, “As a result (of the town water being sterilised), the bottled water business is booming.”

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