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Karez Water System

Why is Karez water system special?


Karez Water System is an irrigation system in the Turpan of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, which is considered as one of the three greatest water projects of China.


The canals in Karez system channel the water to the surface, taking advantage of the current provided by the gravity only. Karez Water System represents the wisdom and capacity of ancient people and plays a pivotal role in development of agriculture and people’s living standards.


Karez Water System Highlights


Big Scale and Number of Karez


The number of Karez Wells that are situated in Turpan Depression today is over 1,000 and the channels have a total length of over 5,000 kilometers. Karez systems are very delicate irrigation systems made up of vertical wells, underground canals, above-ground canals and small reservoirs. Generally, a Karez is 3 km (1.9 miles) with the longest being 20 to 30 km (12-19 miles) with several dozen vertical wells.


Turpan Karez Museum


There is a museum called the Turpan Karez Museum or the Turpan Water Museum. The museum has pictures and models instructing on the history of the Karez system, and there are underground tunnels people can walk around in and see a Karez. Most of the Karezes in the Turpan area were built during the Qing Dynasty era or before 1949. But in modern times, concrete canals and ditches were built and pipes were installed, and hundreds of wells were dug. Now only about 300 Karez are still active, and they supply about 16 percent of the water for irrigation in the Turpan area.



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