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Karez Irrigation System

China, an East Asian country is one of the world’s oldest civilizations. It has a vast cultural history of more than five thousand years and an outstanding natural beauty. On the other hand, this country has remained a comparatively isolated and secluded one, and being a land of mystery, this country is not known to the western half of the world. However, China is rapidly developing and has grown in the phase of modernization, with an immense speed and is also welcoming the outer world to interact and do business with them.
Karez Irrigation System karez in Xinjiang dates back to 103 BC, Before Christ. Melting snow from the Tianshan Mountain is the water source for the karez. Karez systems are made up of vertical wells, which maybe as deep as 100 meters near the water source and less than 10 meters further downstream, underground canals, above-ground canals and small reservoirs. Generally, a karez is 3 kilometer, with the longest being 20 to 30 km. Sometimes the number of vertical wells exceeds 300. At its peak, the karez irrigation system exceeded 5,000 kilometers or 3,106 miles and was also referred to as the underground Great Wall. Currently there are still over 400 systems.
The vertical wells are used for ventilation, digging and maintenance of the karez. The bottoms of all the vertical wells are connected so that water can pass through to the oasis, where the water is held in the ground canals for irrigation. The underground canal is about 6.5 feet high and covered with earth to resist the heat. The surface canals, connected to the underground ones, are not more than 3.2 feet wide with trees planted on both sides to prevent evaporation.
A karez avoids getting polluted and runs from high to low ground owing to gravity alone. Turpan is the hottest place in China and the arid climate makes water all the more precious. It also functions as the natural air conditioner for the locals because they can sit in one. Many cities on the ancient Silk Road, some as far west as modern Iran, relied on this irrigation system as a primary supply of water.

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