Man vs Nature – Aqueduct vs Stream: Monitoring, Understanding and Protecting

Aqueducts are to natural streams what wheat fields are to tall grass prairies.

There is an undeniable elegance in form that comes from simplification of function to unity. Whereas any pristine stream serves many ecological, geomorphic, social, spiritual and economic functions, an aqueduct exists for the sole function of moving water from one place to another.

Nature – left on its own – is dynamic, unpredictable and chaotic. A concrete-lined channel is tranquil, reliable and orderly. Inter-basin transfer of water is a typical solution for issues of water scarcity; with the direction of flow from wild lands to populated regions. An implicit assumption in this arrangement is that water can be withdrawn from a perceived  surplus with limited impact. Errors in this assumption are, in some cases, only discovered after a complete, irreversible, dependency on the diverted water is established.

Monitoring, understanding and protecting the source of this water to ensure continued reliability – and to minimize unanticipated adverse consequences – should be of paramount importance.

National Geographic | Photograph by Edward Burtynsky

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