Qanat: An Ancient Invention for Water Management in Iran

TitleQanat: An Ancient Invention for Water Management in Iran
Publication TypeConference Paper
Year of Publication2010
AuthorsAlemohammad S.H., Gharari S.
Conference NameWater History Conference
Conference LocationDelft, The Netherlands
KeywordsHydraulic Invention, Qanat, Water Shortage, Water Supply

Locating in arid and semi-arid region of Asia, Iran is a dry country from the geographic and meteorological point of view and has been always facing water shortage problems. Existence of ancient dams, irrigations canals and Qanats shows the long lasting struggle of people to fight against drought condition. This water shortage has resulted in a special holiness and respect toward water among Iranian. By the increasing demand of water due to the increasing population, ancient Iranian invented a new system to bring the groundwater to the surface using the gravitational force. This system which is called Qanat is now still in use and some of them back to 3000 years ago. Today there are about 32,000 Qanats in Iran which provide about 10 Billion MCM water per year. Qanat has been introduced to people in other regions of the world (e.g. Japan, Egypt, Oman, Spain, Chile), and so is considered as the main contribution of Iranians in Hydraulics. Qanat has a main sloping tunnel and many shaft wells, which together bring water from a high mountains region to low elevation lands. Comparing to deep wells Qanats are cost efficient, long lasting, and transfer water without requiring energy. They also balance between natural inflow and outflow. This paper goes through the definition, structure and maintenance of Qanats as well as their history and geographical distribution in Iran and the World.  Introduction to famous and wondrous Qanats and their current role in water supply of Iran will be also presented.