“The Bengal Water Machine”: An irrigation wonder–with rice overflowing
Small-holder farmers in Bangladesh developed "The Bengal Water Machine," a climate-resilient water system that has kept an underground reservoir topped up, by storing seasonal monsoon rains totaling 75 to 90 cubic kilometers of water.
Over the last 40 years, small-holder farmers in Bangladesh have transformed the parched Bengal Basin into one of the richest croplands on the planet, with two to three rice harvests per year.
The farmers developed "The Bengal Water Machine," a climate-resilient water system that has kept an underground reservoir topped up, despite massive mechanical irrigation, by storing seasonal monsoon rains totaling 75 to 90 cubic kilometers of water.
That's half the volume of Lake Como in Italy, 5 to 6 times the amount of Lake Windermere in England, one-sixth the volume of Lake Erie, treble the volume of China's Three Gorges Dam, triple the volume of Lake Mead's Hoover Dam reservoir, or, in liters, 23,775,484,712,233.00. (23.7 trillion).
This was discovered in a recent peer-reviewed study that collected one million water measurements from 465 different wells between 1998 and 2018.
Commenting on this issue, Mohammad Shamsudduha, a data analyst and researcher at the Institute for Risk and Disaster Reduction at University College London, said the machine demonstrates that humanity does not need expensive science-fiction technology to ensure that cropland can remain irrigated if climate change results in more intense droughts in the future.
This is due to the fact that The Bengal Water Machine is made up of nothing more than regular old wells drilled fewer than 300 feet below, which increase the collection of the May-October Monsoon rains and prevent them from emptying into the Bay of Bengal.
During the dry season, from November to April, 16 million small-landholder farmers pump water up from the reservoir beneath the Bengal Basin to irrigate their rice, which they produce in such large quantities that they have become the world's fourth-largest producer, allowing the country to be completely grain independent.
It is worth noting that researchers have examined the findings and concluded that comparable nature-based solutions could be well-suited to other locations such as the Mekong Delta or the Huang He river delta in China, both of which have been proven to be vulnerable to the effects of climate change.