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Water Tunnels


Australian Aboriginal People Built Water Tunnels

Indigenous Australians found and built water reservoirs permitting them to live on one of the world's driest continents for tens of thousands of years, according to new research reported by ABC Science Online.

Brad Moggridge, from Kamilaroi country in northern New South Wales, reached this finding as a result of research for his Masters Degree.  He reports that the Aborigines managed their water supplies sustainably.  Mr. Moggridge based his work on oral histories, Dreamtime stories, rock art, artifacts and ceremonial body painting as well as written accounts by explorers, missionaries, surveyors, settlers and anthropologists.

Moggridge reports that indigenous Australians covered their water to avoid contamination and evaporation, and they channeled and filtered it.  They created tunnel reservoirs and wells.  They had extensive knowledge of the underground system - and they still do.

"Groundwater was accessed through natural springs or people used to dig tunnels to access it."  Mr. Moggridge said.  "Sometimes they'd dig till they found the water and then they'd build a system so they could access the water.  Sometimes they'd go fairly deep and people would slither down there and get their water." 

Aboriginal people also used terrain, birdlife, vegetation and animals as markers for water.  They might, for example, follow dingos to rock pools and waterholes and ants to subterranean reservoirs.  "They used the landscape.  For example, you're in a dry area and all of a sudden there's a large number of ghost gums, so you'd think there must be good groundwater."


Dreamtime is the Aboriginal understanding of the world, its creation, and its great stories.  Dreamtime is the beginning of knowledge, and from it came the laws of existence.  For survival these laws must be observed.

One of the key symbols of creation is the rainbow serpent.  Mr. Moggridge says its journey from underground to the surface also represents groundwater rising to the top via springs.  Aboriginal people's understanding of their groundwater system permeates Dreamtime stories.

What could be more sensible than creation and survival stories containing the knowledge of how a people might survive.  Many say the aborigines were in Australia for 40,000 years.  They say it has been much longer.

European settlers learned about the groundwater system from the native tribes and trackers.  Much of today's road system is based on water sources identified by the original inhabitants, and follow their walking tracks.

While we have achieved some remarkable things in our time and place, one wonders if we can manage this resource critical to life as well as these people have.


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Water In The News

A spacecraft designed to crash into the moon in search of water will accompany a lunar orbiter planned for October 2008. Earlier missions identified hydrogen in permanently shaded craters near the south pole, leading to speculation that the hydrogen was bound with oxygen as water. If areas on the moon contain water ice, they would be prime landing sites for humans. Water can be broken apart to produce hydrogen for rocket fuel and oxygen for fuel and breathing, allowing astronauts to partly "live off the land" while exploring.

When the 4,400-pound used rocket slams into a crater at about 5,600 miles per hour, it should send up a plume of vapor and debris 30 to 40 miles above the surface. About 15 minutes later, the trailing spacecraft, loaded with infrared cameras and spectroscopes to determine chemical composition, is to fly through the plume taking and relaying data before itself hitting the moon.

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Adaptable Garden Sprinklers Put Water Just Where You Want

Noodlehead Sprinklers have several flexible tubes at the top, permitting you to aim the water just the way you want.  You can determine how much water to put into each plant or area.  They are also terrific for odd-shaped spaces so you stop wasting water on the sidewalk or your fence.  Click here to learn more about them.


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Stories You May Have Missed 

 The Iowa Department of Natural Resources is displaying a statue made of trash collected in the state's rivers. It's in the shape of a giant water droplet. The artwork is on display in Des Moines. As part of project AWARE, volunteers spent a week canoeing and cleaning up Iowa's waterways. Some of the volunteers then created the statue with the help of David Williamson, an Ogden artist. This year's project AWARE will be held from June 17th to the 24th on the Iowa and English rivers.


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