Water transportation is the intentional movement of water over large distances. Methods of transportation fall into three categories:
- Aqueducts, which include pipelines, canals, and tunnels
- container shipment, which includes transport by tank truck, tank car, and tank ship.
- towing, where a tugboat is used to pull an iceberg or a large water bag along behind it.
Due to its weight, transportation of water is very energy intensive. Unless it has the assistance of gravity, a canal or long-distance pipeline will need pumping stations at regular intervals. In this regard, the lower friction levels of the canal make it a more economical solution than the pipeline. Water transportation is also very common along rivers and oceans.
Major water transportation projects
The Grand Canal of China, finished in the 7th Century AD and measuring 1,794 kilometres (1,115 mi).
The California Aqueduct, near Sacramento, is 715 km (444 mi) long.
The Keita Integrated Development Project used specially created plows called the donaldo and Scarabeo to build water catchments. In these catchments, trees were planted which grow on the water flowing through the ditches. The Kimberley Water Source Project is currently underway in Australia to determine the best method of transporting water from the Fitzroy River to the city of Perth. Options being considered include a 3,700 kilometre canal, a pipeline of at least 1,800 kilometres, tankers of 300,000 to 500,000 tonnes, and water bags each carrying between 0.5 and 1.5 gigalitres.
Manual water transportation
Historically water was transported by hand in dry countries, by traditional waterers such as the sakkas of Arabia and Bhishti of India. Africa is another area where water is often transported by hand, especially so in rural areas.