Water and Our Life
Various topics have been debated regarding green water delivery systems and technologies. Even a number of organizations have been established worldwide for this important subject. Australia government for instance has a very active discussion and scientific research especially in sustainable irrigation technologies.
What is Green Water Delivery Technology?
Green water delivery technology is a system that could supply water sustainably either for agriculture or for home. Sustainable means that it could be either passive system which run itself without any external energy or active system which run using any renewable energy sources. Thus the system is green, eco-friendly, very efficient and minimizes our operating cost in long run.
Passive system : No doubt that in this world that something could move alone without any force and energy. Passive system normally utilizes gravitational force to sustain the motion of a system.
While we are not going to discuss in details about the irrigation and crop science such as how to increase water use efficiency and minimize negative impacts on the environment. At least we are aware that besides energy, water is an extremely important topics and problems that we are facing today.
Some topics in sustainable irrigation include sustainability of food production and ecosystem function within irrigated catchments.
Government of Australia has established NPSI or National Program for Sustainable Irrigation to invest into research and adoption of sustainable irrigation practices in Australia.
NCAT is a NGO (Non-Governmental Organization) or voluntary organization has been established in the United States where one of their missions is for sustainable irrigation practices.
ICID (International Commission on Irrigation and Drainage) is an international body which was established in India.
Basically there are many more active organizations which are not being listed above. Readers could find themselves in own locality by searching on web or any available directory. Let’s look on some historical importance of irrigation in the earliest civilization.
History of Green Water Delivery System
Since water is a very important factor for any civilization, irrigation has been so important for agricultural production in Mesopotamia for more than 6000 years. Mesopotamia is a region parts of present day Iraq and Iran. The system that was being used in that time was green water delivery technology where it utilizes passive system.
Basically, Mesopotamia has low rainfall and is supplied with surface water by two major rivers, the Tigris and the Euphrates. The grasslands of Mesopotamia were constantly in difficulties with poor drainage of soils, drought, catastrophic flooding and soil salinity.
Salinity is the saltiness or dissolved salt content of a body of water. The term is used to describe the levels of different salts such as sodium chloride, magnesium, calcium sulfates and bicarbonates. Salinity in Australian and North American English may also denote to the salt content of soil.
Mesopotamia is a very flat land and has a remarkable potential in agriculture. However, the base of the Euphrates is higher than that of the Tigris where floods of the Euphrates sometimes could find their way across the land into the Tigris.
Mesopotamian engineers took advantage of this slope as soon as irrigation systems became large enough. They used Euphrates water as the supply and the Tigris channel as a drain.
The core engineering problems for Mesopotamia was water storage, flood control and maintenance of canals. The salinity problem was more delicate, not fully valued as well as could not be solved by the engineering that exists at the time. It was difficult to drain water from fields and there was always a tendency for salt to accumulate in the soil.
Silt is granular material where its size anywhere between sand and clay. The mineral origin is quartz and feldspar. Silt may take place as a soil or as suspended sediment in a surface of water body. Silt may also occur as soil dropped at the bottom of a water body.
Physical Water Irrigation Complications
Mesopotamia faced various physical and politically problems that led to disaster of the land for almost 600 years.
The physical problems in ancient Mesopotamia were;
- Silting of canals where silt built up quickly in the canal beds.
- Soil salinity, recorded evidence around 2000 BC, 1100 BC, and after 1200 AD.
Water Irrigation and Politics Complications
Mesopotamia faced water politics, where tension arising between upstream and downstream of their users.
The city of Lagash in Sumeria, was far downstream in the Euphrates canal system. The governor of Lagash had decided cutting a canal to tap Tigris water rather than rely on water from the Euphrates. However, the poor quality water from the Tigris led to rapid salinization of the soil.
The irrigation system provided the basis for enormously rich culture of Baghdad. Baghdad achieved a remarkable revolution in sciences and technologies. There are still few legends that we still read until today such as Scheherezade, the Caliph of Baghdad, and the Arabian Nights.
Abassid engineers drew water from the Euphrates at five separate points. From the five separate points, they built parallel canals across the plains and watering a huge area south of Baghdad.
Nevertheless, the system required a high level of physical maintenance, and there was increasing salinization in the south of Baghdad.
Further, massive floods about 1200 AD shifted the courses of both the Tigris and the Euphrates, blocking most of the water supply to the Nahrwan Canal and destroying the whole system.
The Abbasids were bankrupt by then to repairs where the agricultural system began to collapse. The worst to come when the Mongols under Hulagu upset Iraq and Baghdad in 1258 AD. They conquered the society where Iraq has remained a desert for more than 600 years.