Turpan Karez System

Karez water system bird-eye view.

Traditional water supply system for agriculture in Turpan.

Xinyu He

Karez system, which is quite similar to the Qanat system, is widely constructed in Turpan Basin, Xinjiang province, China. The word Karez means “well” in local Uyghur language. Turpan Karez system could bring aquifer water from the mountain area to oases in lower part through tunnels. Nowadays, this kind of low tech, autonomous run, energy free approach is gradually abandoned after the appearance of mechanical well. Then, only a few Karez system could generate water because others laking of maintenance.

Aerial view of access shafts: the massive vertical access shafts is to make the construction and maintenance of underground tunnel easier (top left); perspective view of single access shaft (top right); person taking water from Mínqú (surface ditches): Some ditches are built with rammed earth while other are built with hard rocks (bottom).

The water collected by the mother wells of Karez system will distribute to the oases through main tunnel, surface ditches and water retention pond.

Karez water system plan.

The Turpan Karez water system includes not only water collection and transportation part but also the distribution part. This water system plan illustrates the water flows from the outlet of tunnels to the agriculture field. Together with stream, it fed citizens, farmers, plants along ditches, agriculture field, animals and also create cooling living environment.