Simple solutions for complex problems

Sitaram Naik

Drought, floods and rivers interlinking

Introduction

Recall the famous saying of Sanskrit literature:

Vroxo raxathi raxathaha - Those who protect trees are protected.

Drought means lack of trees. Drought is caused by lack of trees. If we protect trees, we can come out of drought.

Rain makes land wet. Wet land grows trees and creates clouds. Trees create cool weather for clouds to rain. And the cycle continues. If it does not rain for a long time, land dries. Dry land dries trees also. Then no more clouds and rains. If we cut all the trees, clouds cannot rain. Then land dries. Whether nature breaks the cycle or we break it, there is drought in that area.

If we start the cycle manually, nature takes care of it from then. Instead of adjusting to live in drought conditions, better to change the condition. If we start leaving drought hit areas, after a century, half of the land area of our planet will be under drought. Blaming global warming or local governance is not the solution. We need to follow a step-by-step process to change the situation.

The solution given below can change a drought hit area to a thick forest in few decades. It can create liveable conditions just in few years.

Example: Drought in Somalia, Africa

In the cycle explained above, if we take care of the step to wet the land and grow the trees, nature takes it to the next step of forming clouds. Initially thin clouds will be formed. These clouds help us to reduce temperature in that area by blocking sun light. Once the clouds thicken, it will not have any other choice but rain. Till it rains, we need to keep the land wet and trees alive.

If we can keep the land wet, growing trees is not a problem. Now the only problem is how to keep the land wet for so long time. If we solve this problem, then the big problem of drought is solved.

Sea Water Lake is the solution for Africa problem. The ocean is very close (within 100 KMs) to the drought hit area. So the sea water can be used to improve the condition there.

Select a highest altitude point in drought hit area. Create a big lake there. Fill it with sea water. Create few streams from there in all required directions. As we keep filling the water in the lake, the overflowed water travels through the streams and makes the land wet in those areas. We can plant trees all along the streams. People living in those areas will get bore water.

Now the problem is how to fill the lake with sea water. The lake is very far from the sea and at higher altitude. The problem of distance can be taken care by installing water pipes from the sea to the lake. Height of the pipe at sea should be little more than the altitude of the lake so that water flows with gravity.

Now the only problem remains is how to pump the water so high. We have many solutions for this. I prefer the free infinite energy sources for pumping water. It helps in long run. But, in parallel, we can use costly solutions to get faster results. Some of the energy solutions are:

  1. Tidal wave
  2. Windmill
  3. Solar power
  4. Electricity

Electric water pumps can be used initially to fill the lake. Later the free energy sources can be used to pump the water slowly and continuously.

With this one time installation solution, people and trees in drought hit areas will get drinking water. If the altitude is very high, install multiple lakes in-between and pump water from there.

To reduce sand and salt in the water, for every kilo meter, sand collecting duct is attached to the pipe. As heavy particles settle down in the flow of water, these are trapped in the sand collecting ducts. Periodically these ducts are emptied. Initial few ducts get more sand and later ducts collect salt as salt is also heavier than water. As water travels very long distance, most the salts are filtered. So the percentage of salt in the lake water is very low compared to the sea water. As salt always settles down in still water, the streams will have very less or negligible salt. The water that gets seeped in to the ground will have negligible salt. So the water from the streams can be used for trees and animals. Bore water can be used for humans.

There are some types of trees that can withstand drought conditions. We can plant those trees in huge numbers all over the drought hit area. As we get more water, we can plant other trees. The idea is to make the area green very fast. So that trees can block solar heat from reaching the ground. That helps in cooling the area in the night which in turn helps the clouds to rain.

Other drought hit areas

Find the closest water body for this area. It can be sea, a river or a stream of water. We can follow the same process to pump water. If we are pumping water from a river, the force of water flow can be used to pump water.

Rivers interlinking

Connecting all the rivers may be a big task for the government. But connecting flood hit areas and drought hit areas through water pipes should not be a major task.

Rivers interlinking can be done by building a network of pipes connecting rivers, villages and cities. Also connect heavy rainy areas and low rainy areas in this network. Label rivers, flood hit areas and heavy rainy areas as source. Label drought hit areas, villages and low rainy areas as sink. When one of the sinks needs water, collect water from one of the sources and connect it. When there is a signal of floods in one of the sources, pump as much water as possible from the source and open all the sinks to collect water. Though we cannot reduce affect of floods by pumping out water, all the sinks get lot of water. So somebody is benefitted from floods.

I will give one example to understand how it works. One of the mountain top (heavy rainy area) is connected to this network of pipes. Whenever it rains there, a stream of rain water is directed to the network of pipes. At least one of the sinks gets the water. Usually the water from the mountain flows to a river. But now some part of that water flows to a village (low rainy area) very far from the mountain. Though the villagers don't see clouds, they get rain water for drinking and for farming. In case of floods, more water can be directed to the network of pipes to control floods.

When floods are expected in one river, we start releasing water to all other parts of the country including other rivers.

Each dam can hold a limited amount of water. The remaining water is released to ocean. With distribution procedure, water from every heavy rain will be reaching many other parts of the country and the water will be getting stored. Total rain water that can be stored and utilized will be very high. Instead of holding all water in a one dam, we are distributing to it to many regions. Every village should have one or more big lakes. When there is heavy rain in one part of the country, all these lakes should be filled as much as possible. Even if we cannot control complete flood, we can utilize flood water to a maximum extent.

Irrigation does not depend on rain. It depends only on water. A drought hit area can be converted to green land by supplying excess water from heavy rainy areas.

There should be a central controlling system for the complete connected pipeline. It should have map of complete pipeline and it should be able to open and close valves of all end points from one place. It should monitor directions of water flow. When there is heavy rain in one region, the direction of flow of water in pipelines should be controlled from one place.

At every end point of pipeline, warning bells will be installed. Before releasing water, warning bells will ring for few minutes so that animals and children playing at empty lake can be taken out.

Advantages of connecting rivers with pipeline

Pipes can pass through villages and cities. They can go around historical monuments and mountains without disturbing them. They can go across roads and railway tracks. There is no need of building bridges. There can be full control to stop or redirect water. There is no wastage of water. This pipeline system can be built in multiple phases. Whole country can be connected with the same network of pipes by extending it to take care of all water issues. Repairs can be carried out locally without affecting other regions.

Disadvantages of connecting rivers on land

If we connect the rivers directly by digging land, risk of floods will be extended to all regions along the new path of the river. As intensity of floods is increasing every year, extending the risks to many more regions may not be a good idea. We need river water in cities but we cannot allow the river to pass through the city. Because of two main reasons, (1) Land acquisition is very costly (2) Fear of floods. The advantages and development expected with river interlinking will be cleaned out with once in a while heavy floods. So the net advantage will be less. Other problem is with powerful and famous people. They try to change the best path of river to avoid their land or to bring the river in their region. With all unnecessary changes, the final river may be more dangerous for many innocent people.

Drinking water

Network of pipes can be used to supply drinking water to many villages. Lot of river water is flowing in to the sea while many villages are struggling for drinking water. Even if daily water supply is not possible, periodically drinking water can be supplied to the worst hit villages. When there is real need, supplying water becomes easy as everything is connected.