Irrigation and drainage

Sites related to man-made constructions for water supply (for agriculture or drinking water) or removal of water.

Connected Sites

Site Rationale Link
Aflaj irrigation system
Ahwar of Southern Iraq draining the marshes and the building of dams and irrigation canals were major technological breakthrough first introduced under the Ubaid period and further perfected by the Sumerians who later built dams on the Tigris and Euphrates to expand agriculture far inland. (nom file))
Al Ain Use of aflaj
Al-Ahsa Oasis The circular urban shape of the villages of Al-Ahsa resulted from an irrigation canal on one side and a drainage canal on the other side circling the village as a result of the developed water management systems in Al-Ahsa (AB ev)
Ancient Kingdom of Saba "An innovative irrigation system created to sustain agriculture and pastoral economy in the semi-arid environment of the ArabianPeninsula demonstrates the high level of hydrologicalengineering" (AB ev)
Angkor Holds rrigation and drainage facilities such as reservoirs and canals to prevent floods and store irrigation water
Antequera Dolmens Site A large cistern that has been uncovered in Menga is currently being investigated.
Anuradhapura Has large "tanks" and associated irrigation canals etc. These were built to enable the city to run and feed itself as it lies within Sri Lanka's "dry zone"
Aqueduct of Padre Tembleque The hydraulic system also partially retains authenticity of use and function ... such as washing clothes, irrigation, etc (AB ev)
Aranjuez Several waterworks, dams, canals to irrigate the gardens and prevent them from flashfloods
Australian Convict Sites Great North Road - significant drains and culverts were constructed as part of the road construction.
Bahla Fort Falaj in the Bahla Oasis
Bali Subak system
Bam Cultural Landscape the qanats
Battir network of irrigation channels (AB ev)
Bergpark Wilhelmshöhe the nominated property includes the drainage catchment of the Essigberg west of the Hercules Monument which supplies the water features (AB ev)
Causses and Cévennes use of irrigated terraces for agriculture
Champaner-Pavagadh canal system
Chan Chan The Chimú used irrigation for their agriculture by diverting water from the Moche river. Water reservoirs can still be seen at the site
City of Bath A "system of Roman and modern pipe routes is developed in Bath (...) The Roman Great Drain is constructed to discharge used water into the River Avon." (Great Spas of Europe Nomination File, p. 276)
Colonies of Benevolence In the Wortel component, the landscape is divided into narrow uniform plots, separated by a system of ditches and paths. (...) The early pattern of family farms disappeared during the period of abandonment, although the system of ditches and drains is still explicitly present, especially in areas that became woodlands rather than fields after 1870. (...) The drainage and dewatering system also displays an orthogonal structure. (Nomination file, p. 58-59)
Danube Limes Wien (ID No 30): "The Romans provided their cities, including Vindobona, with clean potable water through an elaborate systems of Roman aqueducts, canals, and large subterranean pipes. Excavations have revealed that Vindobona received its supply through a 17 km long water pipeline. (...) Waste from the Roman camp was transported through an elaborate subterranean sewerage system that was planned from the beginning. The sewers were lined with brick walls and plates and ran beneath the main roads."
Dholavira: A Harappan City Water management system and hydraulic engineering that contains at least 16 reservoirs and an elaborate systems of drains and sewers
Diyarbakir Fortress and Hevsel Gardens "The Anzele Spring is located in the west part of the City Walls. It provides for the water needs of many mosques in the city, houses and gardens to the Urfa Gate, powers the mills outside of Mardin Gate, and irrigates the Hevsel Gardens".
Djerba "Hydraulic installations within the menzel included a well, a water basin connected to irrigation canals and tanks for collecting rainwater" (AB ev)
El Fuerte de Samaipata ICOMOS: "There is an impressive series of at least nine cultivation terraces on the east and south of the rock. They are interconnected by means of stone steps and have a sophisticated system for drainage."
Everglades Several attempts were made to drain and develop the Everglades in the 1880s.
Florence Boboli Gardens: "The garden lacks a natural water source. To water its plants, a conduit was built to feed water from the nearby Arno River into an elaborate irrigation system."
Fort and Shalamar Gardens Shalamar Gardens
Fortifications of Vauban Longwy: 5 wells for drinking water to see the inhabitants through a siege
Granada Aceauia Real
Grand Canal the series illustrates the history of hydraulic techniques (dykes, lock gates, water supply, weirs, drainage and irrigation, etc.), (AB ev)
Grand Pré drainage system included an ingenious device called an 'aboiteau' (AB ev)
Great Spa Towns of Europe All the spa towns have a pipe network for the supply and disposal of the spring water. E.g. a "system of Roman and modern pipe routes is developed in Bath (...) The Roman Great Drain is constructed to discharge used water into the River Avon." (Nomination File, p. 276)
Hahoe and Yangdong "The nominated area includes fields bordering the river between the village and the lower slopes of the mountain. They are primarily irrigated rice paddies." - AB Document
Hani Rice Terraces A complex system of channels has been developed to spread this water around the terraces in and between different valleys.(whc)
Hawraman/Uramanat "The Hawrami people's endeavors, exquisite and skillful agricultural technology, and ecological world-view taken from ancestral practices have successfully created a smart, efficient, fair, harmonious, and sustainable agricultural system that manages water and irrigation and pinpoints proper dwelling spaces." (AB Ev – ICOMOS) "(...) irrigation and optimal water management in Hawraman/Uramanat gardening is quite creative and shows signs of the development of human knowledge in exploiting limited natural resources of Hawraman/Uramanat." (Nomination file, p. 72-73)
Hegra It bears witness to the development of Nabataean agricultural techniques using a large number of artificial wells in rocky ground. The wells are still in use. (unesco website)
Himā Cultural area Hima Wells: "This location is at the oldest known toll station on an important ancient desert caravan route, where the wells of Bi’r Ḥimā date back at least 3,000 years and still produce fresh water." (brief description).
Humayun's Tomb pools joined by channels
Hwaseong Fortress "The single surviving floodgate (there were originally two), known as Puksumun, is a well built sluice gate on the upstream side of the Fortress, used to control the flow of the stream running througb the site." - AB document
Incense Route of the Negev
Kairouan Bassins des Aghlabides
Keoladeo National Park Ajan Bund
Kerkuane "The part of the city, now uncovered, proves the existence of a drainage system for rain and wastewater that was quite well developed. Sewers have been recognized in different streets. The outflow of drainage system probably ended in the sea, and care was taken as not to contaminate the underground freshwater."
Khinalig "the terraces as well as the gravityfed irrigation systems for pastures and hayfields remain important evidence of adaptation to the local natural conditions." (AB ev)
Kujataa To be able to feed all these animals it was necessary to ensure stable production from the fields. To maintain this, an extensive irrigation system was constructed, with reservoirs at several levels and canals which spread out across the entire plain. (Unesco)
Laurisilva of Madeira The levadas provide essential drinking water and irrigation supplies (Unesco website)
Los Alerces National Park the artificial lake Amutui Quimei
M'Zab Valley The palm groves are partly irrigated by an underground water distribution system called "Foggara". This is similar to the Iranian "Qanat" and the Omani "Aflaj" but only operates for flood waters. Its maintenance and operation is a significant element within the cultural life of the inhabitants. See
Machu Picchu
Masada special system of tunnels and dams to supply Masada with water
Maulbronn Monastery Maulbronn Abbey for its extensive watermanagement system of reservoirs and channels
Maymand In the exceptionally arid climate, traditionally every drop of water needed to be collected from a variety of sources such as rivers, springs and subterranean pools and collected in reservoirs or channelled through underground qanats to be used for animals, orchards and small vegetable plots. (Unesco)
Medina Azahara "the section of the old Roman aqueduct now diverted was used as a main sewer for a highly complex system of small channels carrying away rain and waste water. Many food and ceramic remains have been found here." Wiki
Meknes Agdal reservoir
Mexico City and Xochimilco Tenochtitlan artificial lake
Moenjodaro "Once the centre of a powerful civilization, Mohenjo Daro was one of the world's earliest cities — a Bronze Age metropolis boasting flush toilets, as well as a water and waste system to rival modern standards." "(...) the civilization at Mohenjo Daro (...) built an elaborate drainage system, which has been critical during flooding in the past."
Mount Qingcheng and Dujiangyan
Mérida The Proserpina and Cornalvo dams, both still functioning, are the most remarkable surviving examples of Roman water management systems. (AB)
Namhansanseong "As the entire Namhansanseong Fortress was mostly constructed along with mountain slopes, water permeating into the fortress walls could threaten the stability of the fortress walls. Accordingly, separate water drain holes were installed in places where the drainage system was not good. So far, 28 water drain holes have been verified." - Nomination File
Old City of Jerusalem Hizkia reservoir (drinking water supply)
Old Town of Lijiang
Orkhon Valley Ordu-Baliq - remains of a water drainage system
Palmeral of Elche
Paquimé a sophisticated water-distribution system (AB ev)
Pasargadae Pasargadae is also home to a complex water supply system for the time that comprises cisterns, tunnels, underground canals, and ducts, which are locally known as qanats.
Persian Garden
Petra "The area is visited by flash floods and archaeological evidence demonstrates the Nabataeans controlled these floods by the use of dams, cisterns and water conduits. These innovations stored water for prolonged periods of drought, and enabled the city to prosper from its sale" (Wiki)
Polonnaruva Has large "tanks" and associated irrigation canals etc. These were built to enable the city to run and feed itself as it lies within Sri Lanka's "dry zone"
Pythagoreion and Heraion of Samos sewage system
Pyu Ancient Cities complex system of irrigation and water storage using elevated weirs canals, dykes, sluice gates, moats and water tanks (AB ev)
Qhapaq Ñan Choquequirao, Huamachuco
Rammelsberg and Goslar Upper Harz Water Management System
Rice Terraces of the Philippine Cordilleras Gravity-fed irrigation system, utilizing water from aquifers in the forests 2,000 feet above.
Royal Joseon Tombs "Ponds built at the Joseon royal burial grounds are mostly square, with round miniature islands, and serve to reinforce favorable energy at the entrance to the burial grounds while also aiding management of drainage of the royal tombs and supporting the caretakers' activities." - nomination file
San Antonio Missions .. share an intricate system of water distribution channels utilizing the fresh water resources from two springs (AB ev)
Sarazm "The irrigation system of Sarazm is probably one of the most sophisticated of the Chalcolithic and Bronze Age in Central Asia." (AB evaluation)
Sassanid Archaeological Landscape rock cut reservoirs in Bishapur
Serra de Tramuntana irrigation channels (AB ev)
Shahr-i Sokhta sewage system
Si Thep "Restore the irrigation system and the catchment area near the eastern moats" (mgt plan)
Siena "Also of note are the city's fountains that continue to be fed by an extensive system of original tunnels." (Official description) "The walls themselves (...) also include part of the 25 km network of galleries, the bottini, which evacuate the spring waters distributed by the public fountains." (AB Ev) (
Sigiriya Water reservoirs
Silk Roads Chang'an-Tianshan Corridor At Balasagun (Burana) and other Central Asian locations: "Several had complex water gathering and irrigation systems with ceramic pipes and reservoirs." (AB ev)
Silk Roads: Zarafshan-Karakum Corridor Toksankoriz Irrigation System
Site of Xanadu water control works (AB ev)
Solovetsky Islands mesolithic hydraulic systems
Southern Öland Alby
Sulaiman-Too In the Middle Ages irrigation channels from the Ak-Buura River were created along the lower slopes, and one of them is still functioning on the northern side (AB ev)
Swiss Alps Jungfrau-Aletsch There are remains of an elaborate canal irrigation system dating from the Middle Ages or possibly from Roman times, the canals obtaining their water from glacial rivers (UNEP-WCMC)
Tak'alik Ab'aj "Creative water management was also a feature of Tak’alik Ab’aj from the beginning of its long history. Systems for draining rainwater from the plazas were engineered" (AB ev)
Takht-e Soleyman residents of the area have created canals to channel the overflow as well as provide irrigation for surrounding fields, which, as a result, are specially fertile
Tehuacán-Cuicatlán Valley Several sites reflecting water irrigation processes (AB ev) - Purrón Dam is the largest prehistoric water management structure in Mesoamerica at 24 m high, 106 m wide, and 400 m in length (nom file)
Telc artificial ponds
Tequila Guachimontone
The Persian Qanat
Tikal National Park The diversity and quality of architectonical and sculptural ensembles serving ceremonial, administrative and residential functions are exemplified in a number of exceptional places, such as ... irrigation structures. (official description)
Vat Phou Hydraulic system stretching over 10 km
Xidi and Hongcun Hongcun: "Around 1405, on the advice of geomancers, a channel was dug to bring fresh water to the village from the West Stream. Two hundred years later the water supply system of the village was completed with the creation of the South Lake." (AB ev)
Yazd qanat system


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