Could an Aqua-Net Bring Water to the Desert?

July 29, 2010 by Miranda Marquit weblog
Image source: Shimizu Corporation

( -- Challenges of the future include energy use and continued population growth. And, while there are millions of square miles of land available in the world, not all of it is considered fit for human habitation. Shimizu Corporation, the company contemplating the Luna Ring, has another interesting project in the "just coming up with an idea" stage: The Desert Aqua-Net.

The Aqua-Net is an idea that involves the building of interconnected lakes in the desert. These 18-mile-diameter lakes would be connected by canals fed from the ocean. The lakes would include built islands that could serve as homes for cities teeming with people. Supposedly, this would work because water from the lake would cool the cities, making them livable. There would also be arable land, theoretically, after this cooling above the desert lake islands. The cities would be powered by satellite power stations, and by the sun.

One of the biggest draw backs is that the lakes would be filled with . While the would provide the opportunities for water-based wildlife, and even for biomass development, it doesn't provide much opportunity for drinking. However, Shimizu plans that the some of the would be desalinated, and thus made fit for human consumption and for irrigation of crops.

Of course, cost is a huge barrier to a project like the Aqua-Net. It would be extremely expensive, not to mention use vast resources, to build this Desert Aqua-Net. Other problems could easily arise, related to impacts on oceans and rivers. And, of course, predicting weather patterns, and changes to the climate, could present problems, since these cities could be impacted quite a bit. Finally, and not least, issues of sovereignty would likely arise -- especially since the Desert Aqua-Net would require a great deal of cooperation between countries.

Explore further: Satellite Imagery of Watertown Tire Fire

More information: "Desert Aqua-Net Plan," Shimizu Corporation. Available online:

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5 / 5 (10) Jul 29, 2010
Ugh. I think this is a bad idea. There is already water, in admittedly limited amounts, in the aquafiers. Bringing in salt water would contaminate the aquafiers through the porous soil and then require everyone in the countryside to use desalinization - basically creating a monopoly on potable and irrigation water. Poisoning what exists to control what is available is not a solution.
3.7 / 5 (6) Jul 29, 2010
Ugh. I think this is a bad idea. There is already water, in admittedly limited amounts, in the aquafiers. Bringing in salt water would contaminate the aquifers...

True. Now if the added evaporation and condensation at night resulted in sufficient surface water it might be worth it.

But ther's another problem. These desert regions ar at high altitude so for canals to reach between sea and lakes the lakes need to be sunken deep into the landscape - hundreds of feet.
3.2 / 5 (5) Jul 29, 2010
Aqua-Net: A net that holds water.

Great title! But the science seems questionable.

With kind regards,
Oliver K. Manuel
3 / 5 (2) Jul 29, 2010
Sounds reasonable to me. Think of it like building a canal that only needs to be 5% as deep and wide as ship transport canals. a series of solar power pumps brings water up to the next level of the lock in a stair step process as the elevation rises or falls (like regular canals do, only using solar power). you wouldn't even need to pay for a pipe, you could just let the earth or possibly some cheep plastic be stop the water from going down into the soil. If it evaporates en route is not a problem. just means population centers build up along canal paths because they find it favorable. The population dispersion would look similar to the US where people congregate along major roadways and interstates.
not rated yet Jul 29, 2010
Would be an interesting solution to the problem of rising sea levels. Now if one could find a way to cheaply and quickly desalinate this water....
not rated yet Jul 29, 2010
Systems like these will be necessary in the future. There is plenty of land and resources on this planet for many more billions of people. The key is that we must learn to use land and materials that we currently discard or overlook due to technological inadequacies. Yes, the salt water can foster a monopoly, but this article deals with the engineering feasibility, not the political agendas. The articles presented on this site deal with what we can do if other humans don't purposely gunk up the works. I think this is a great idea that will allow us to accommodate future generations. Next, subterranean cities in freezing cold regions.
5 / 5 (2) Jul 29, 2010
I'm sorry but just because there is water in the desert does not mean it will be cooler. I live in AZ and have been on a lake with 105+ temperatures and trust me it doesn't make a difference. The added humidity to the already sweltering heat just leads to faster dehydration and heavier heat exhaustion. IMO this could work but not to "cool" the brutal desert climate.
3.8 / 5 (4) Jul 29, 2010
Be cheaper to harvest calved icebergs/ lift them with lighter-than-air ships/ deposit them in the desert: instant cooling, water, and an end to sea level rise. Well, maybe not, but it would be neat to see.
3.5 / 5 (2) Jul 29, 2010
I've actually been toying with a similar idea of the Australian desert for some time now. If you look at a topographical map of south australia, there is a HUGE amount of land there that is essentially at sea level, and most of it is just salt-lakes. If this area were to have water coming in from the sea, then potentially the water evaporating could cause further rainfall on the northwest side of the great dividing range. I am in no way confident regarding the rainfall part, however it's still an interesting idea.

You might end up with a dead sea kind of situation though, as water would always be flowing "in" from the sea, never out, and you might get a massive build up of salt. If the evaporation occured quickly enough you might even be able to get some rapids going and canoe IN from the Sea. That'd be fun.
not rated yet Jul 29, 2010
Wow! Is there a word for terraforming as applied to earth? Normally I think it's meant to be applied to alien worlds adapted by us for us with 'alien' being the key word.
3 / 5 (1) Jul 29, 2010
Salt water in the desert...hmmm. Try this:


I think a canal could be built to fill the already lower-than-sea-level Lake Eyre in South Australia, and greenhouses like this could be set up all around it, allowing the previously completed unsettled area to support agriculture. It wouldn't be prohibitively expensive. And if it does go wrong somehow, it doesn't even matter too much because there is literally nothing there other than salt at the moment.

At any rate, I think something should be done to try to reclaim some of the land lost to desertification globally - with the threat of a growing population, we need to encourage this sort of thinking.
not rated yet Jul 30, 2010
This plan is coming a little late because the global warming is taking effect and brings more rains to the desert. We already see oasis growing bigger. If this trend goes on we will have even a green Sahara in the next 300 years. Humidity will be higher, but not disturbing like in some coastal areas. The cooling effect of lakes will be there but higher humidity will give us a feeling of heat.
5 / 5 (1) Jul 30, 2010
wait -- why are we destroying a desert again??? because we haven't shown any signs af running out of room in habitable places yet -- but we should upset desert ecosystems???

this is non-necessary. Its a great experiment but a very costly one. -- and do not forget that deserts are a lot of sand - mostly because they were the bottom of long dried out seas -- but its a little dificult to grow things in sand, you NEED soil.
1 / 5 (1) Jul 30, 2010
How about much smaller and more realistic project -- sea level canal connecting Salton Sea with Gulf of California?
4.5 / 5 (2) Aug 01, 2010
How about this. Stop having so many durn kids! Then you won't have to have people living in a desert.
5 / 5 (1) Aug 01, 2010
We are near or below the population replacement rate already in the developed world."Durn kids" are required to support an ageing population,otherwise we will be in a situation like in Japan,where the country is rapidly greying.
5 / 5 (1) Aug 01, 2010
Wait a minute, if you're going to build 30 meter lakes and then islands inside these lakes why not just go to a place that is about 30 meters deep in the ocean and build an island there? I suppose for land-locked desertified and flat countries this might be an interesting idea. For everyone else, using coastal waters would be much easier.
not rated yet Aug 02, 2010
Actually, Choice there are many plans for floating homes and larger buildings. They have most of the same problems as this project would. The main reasons these plans don't take off, not enough pressure to do so, money, resources, power, transportation, money, and money.

But some coastal areas do have floating homes. They are attached to large anchoring poles and go up and down with the tide. But they have seasonal flooding therefor the need.
not rated yet Aug 06, 2010
Add some plasmafication systems to reclamate the saltwater and create lakes of fresh water, watch desert greenification take force. Added bonus of having garbage and recycling taken care of as well.

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