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Sustainable Water Utilization in Arid Region of Iran by Qanats

Authors: F. Boustani

Abstract:

To make use of the limited amounts of water in arid region, the Iranians developed man-made underground water channels called qanats (kanats) .In fact, qanats may be considered as the first long-distance water transfer system. Qanats are an ancient water transfer system found in arid regions wherein groundwater from mountainous areas, aquifers and sometimes from rivers, was brought to points of re-emergence such as an oasis, through one or more underground tunnels. The tunnels, many of which were kilometers in length, had designed for slopes to provide gravitational flow. The tunnels allowed water to drain out to the surface by gravity to supply water to lower and flatter agricultural land. Qanats have been an ancient, sustainable system facilitating the harvesting of water for centuries in Iran, and more than 35 additional countries of the world such as India, Arabia, Egypt, North Africa, Spain and even to New world. There are about 22000 qanats in Iran with 274000 kilometers of underground conduits all built by manual labor. The amount of water of the usable qanats of Iran produce is altogether 750 to 1000 cubic meter per second. The longest chain of qanat is situated in Gonabad region in Khorasan province. It is 70 kilometers long. Qanats are renewable water supply systems that have sustained agricultural settlement on the Iranian plateau for millennia. The great advantages of Qanats are no evaporation during transit, little seepage , no raising of the water- table and no pollution in the area surrounding the conduits. Qanat systems have a profound influence on the lives of the water users in Iran, and conform to Iran-s climate. Qanat allows those living in a desert environment adjacent to a mountain watershed to create a large oasis in an otherwise stark environment. This paper explains qanats structure designs, their history, objectives causing their creation, construction materials, locations and their importance in different times, as well as their present sustainable role in Iran.

Keywords: Iran, qanat, Sustainable water utilization.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI): doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.1080378

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