There are several Roman aqueducts that are still in operation today, usually in part or after renovation. The iconic Trevi Fountain in Rome is still fed by the same aqueduct water as the ancient Aqua Virgo. The Acqua Vergine Nuova, on the other hand, is now a pressurized aqueduct. It supplies water to the Vatican City and parts of Rome.
Other aqueducts supply water to cities all over the world. In California, the Los Angeles Aqueduct built during World War II can be seen everywhere, from Hollywood to Venice Beach. This 11-mile-long conduit carried water from northern to southern California. Today it provides drinking water to six million people in its path.
The Anasazi people who lived in what is now Colorado used water channels they dug into the earth for their farms. These artificial irrigation ditches can be seen at many archaeological sites in the region.
In Israel, the Israeli Water Authority (IWA) operates eight major dams and two smaller ones to produce electricity via the National Electric Company of Israel (NECO). The resulting stream of water is divided between the Sea and the Central District, which includes most of Jerusalem. The IWA says the project has restored about 40 percent of the city's historic water system.
In addition to these examples, there are also hundreds of smaller aqueducts around the world that were used for farming or to provide water for mining operations.
There is even a functional Roman aqueduct that brings water to several of Rome's fountains. The Acqua Vergine, erected in 19 B.C., has been renovated multiple times and continues to serve as a working aqueduct. It can be seen running along the center line of Piazza di Santa Maria Maggiore.
The use of aqueducts for drinking water was first applied by the Ancient Greeks. They built large underground pipes to bring water from mountain springs to cities such as Athens and Corinth. These were called akquiadi or akuedemus and they remained popular in Europe into the 20th century. The Romans improved on this design by making the pipes massive enough to bear the weight of river waters as well as groundwater. The result is one of the largest surviving aqueducts in Europe. It carries water from the Apennine Mountains into Rome's central park.
In modern cities, underground pipes are still used for drinking water. They are attached to mains that carry water from lakes or streams into houses. This method was used by ancient Greeks and Romans too. But since most cities have shallow soils, they need an external source of water to meet their demand. This is where dams come into play. Dams hold back water for future use and often generate electricity at the same time. Modern hydroelectric power plants look much like those built by the Ancients.
The Acqua Vergine, which was erected in 19 B.C., has been renovated multiple times but remains a working aqueduct. The Roman aqueduct at Pont du Gard in southern France spans the Gard River. Built between A.D. 16 and 18, it is one of the most important monuments of Romanesque architecture.
The aqueduct at Pont du Gard carries water from the Lac de Gaume to an ornamental pool called the Jardin d'Eze, where it flows through two more pools and then into the Goulue river. This last section is man-made: During periods when there wasn't enough rain for all of Gaul, the Romans built dams on the Seuil River and released them during times of flood to create reservoirs. The Aqueduct at Pont du Gard is just one of many such structures found throughout Europe.
In addition to being a beautiful piece of architecture, the aqueduct at Pont du Gard serves a practical purpose today. The city of Paris gets most of its drinking water from surrounding rivers and lakes, but they don't have time to travel all the way across France whenever they need a refill! So after collecting rainfall runoff for years, the city government now buys water from local farmers who sell it by the liter. The money made from this program goes toward maintaining the pipes that deliver the water.
The Roman aqueduct was a waterway that carried fresh water to densely inhabited areas. Given the historical period, aqueducts were incredible achievements of engineering. Water was utilized for drinking, irrigation, and to feed hundreds of public fountains and baths as it poured into cities. The system was managed by the Aqua Marcia agency.
Aqueducts were one of the most important works of civil engineering in ancient Rome. They were built over a long period from about 500 B.C. to A.D. 400. The word "aqueduct" comes from the Latin words aqua (water) and ducere (to lead). These structures were very important for the urban development of Ancient Rome because they provided water for public use such as for fountains and gardens even where there was no possibility of rain. The city needed many times more water than could be supplied by nature so they used the aqueduct to bring in more water.
They were made out of stone with some exceptions such as bronze ones which did not last long enough for any real purpose. The quality of construction varied depending on the need and budget of each project. Some were simple tunnels while others were designed to change direction or go under roads etc. There were even some that crossed rivers! The amount of work involved in building an aqueduct suggests that they were not done in a day; probably years were spent on just one portion of the network.
An aqueduct has been and continues to be an essential means of transporting water from one location to another. Aqueducts were and are necessary for transporting water from a region where it is abundant to a place where it is scarce, whether it was 2,000 years ago in ancient Rome, Italy, or today in California. Without these transportation systems, cities would run out of water too quickly.
Aqueducts have had a profound effect on the shape of many cities and regions. Water was both vital to survival and difficult to obtain in ancient Rome, so leaders built networks of canals and aqueducts to supply their cities with water. The network of canals within the city allowed Romans to use the river Tiber as a sewer system: Waste water flowed into the canals when it wasn't raining or during times of drought, but instead of running off into open sewage fields it was carried through underground pipes to seas or other bodies of water outside the city walls.
Canals also provided routes for military maneuvers and supplies. During battles, soldiers would destroy the bridges over their canals so they could not be used against them. Naval forces used the canals for protection from wind and weather while traveling between warships in port or while engaging an enemy fleet.
Today, urban planners are using this same concept to provide water security for communities that might otherwise suffer from drought or other environmental disasters.