How Do You Control Water?


Quick Answer

Water management worldwide uses a variety of techniques, including building dams and reservoirs, digging canals and irrigation ditches and building and maintaining dyke and levee systems. The control of water flow has been integral to human civilization's development.

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Full Answer

Evidence of early water control techniques can still be found in Egypt and Mesopotamia. Prehistoric farmers in these areas dug irrigation ditches, prevented flooding of low farmland using dykes and used a boom-and-bucket system called a swape or shaduf to haul water to higher farmland. Ancient Armenians dug tunnels to guide water from hills to lower farmlands, and the Romans erected enormous aqueducts to carry water throughout the land.

Modern water control systems have expanded on the simple principles developed by the ancient world. Dykes and levees hold back floodwaters in the Mississippi River basin and in the Netherlands. Irrigation ditches and wells are an integral part of farming in less developed parts of the world, and dozens of small nonprofit organizations help solve problems that crop up in these regions, from removing contaminants to addressing droughts and floods. The more advanced world uses dams not only to control the flow of floodwaters, but also to generate electricity and provide clean drinking water for large populations.

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