Does your house have a supply of water? What happens when you open the tap – does it hiss at you angrily or obediently provides you with the treasured liquid? If the latter is the case, then consider yourself lucky, because according to a recent United Nations report, there are over 2 billion people without access to drinking water – a figure that is nothing short of a humanitarian disaster. Is access to reliable water supply a fairly recent thing, then? Well, not at all.
The practice of storing water is almost as ancient as civilization itself. Archaeological findings indicate that the earliest examples of this took place around 6000 BC, or almost 8000 years ago, during the Neolithic period. People back then would dig makeshift wells — practically deep holes — and line their walls with material such as tree bark that would prevent water from escaping. The water could later be easily carried with buckets or pots. This saved a lot of time as opposed to going to the nearest lake or a river. One of the earliest known examples of a more sophisticated water delivery system originates from the ancient Indus Valley Civilization. It was located in what is now modern-day Pakistan and India from around 3300 BCE to 1300 BCE. Archaeological evidence suggests that the Indus Valley cities had complex systems of wells, reservoirs and channels used to supply clean water to their populations.
A system of water storage and supply that was more similar to what we use today came from ancient Rome. Roman aqueducts were a remarkable engineering achievement that allowed citizens of Rome to have a reliable supply of clean water fit for many purposes. The aqueduct system consisted of a network of channels, tunnels and bridges that transported water from distant sources into the city using natural gravitational forces. The system itself is one of the most impressive engineering achievements of the ancient world. The first Roman aqueducts were built in the 4th century BC and were constructed using a combination of stone, brick, and concrete. The recognizable shapes of Roman aqueduct bridges are rounded arches and massive supporting columns.
Over time, the design of Roman aqueducts improved, growing in both scale and complexity. Some of the most impressive examples were built during the reign of Emperor Augustus in the 1st century AD. One of the most famous Roman aqueducts is the Aqua Claudia, which was built in order to supply water to the city of Rome. Named after the Emperor Claudius, this aqueduct was over 44 miles long, with most of its structure located under the earth surface and some sections as high as 110 feet above the ground. To successfully transport water over such great distance, the aqueduct used above-ground arches, which were built to span valleys and ravines. At its peak, the Aqua Claudia was capable of delivering around 200,000 cubic meters of water per day. It was used for a variety of purposes, including public baths, fountains, and private homes. The aqueduct also played a role in the development of Roman agriculture, as it allowed farmers to irrigate their fields and grow crops year-round.
A good example of development outside of Rome is the Pont du Gard. An impressive display of Roman engineering, it is considered one of the greatest surviving structures of the Roman Empire. The aqueduct consists of a series of arches that span the Gardon River, with the highest arches standing over 160 feet tall. The Pont du Gard was built using innovative materials, including a concrete-like substance called pozzolana, which was used to create both the arches and the water channels. The construction of the aqueduct was a massive undertaking that involved thousands of workers and it is estimated that it took around 15 years to complete. The aqueduct itself was in use for around 200 years, providing water to the city of Nîmes and the surrounding areas. Over time, the aqueduct fell into disrepair. During the French Wars of Religion in the 16th century it sustained some serious damage and since then could no longer be used. In the 18th century the aqueduct was partially renovated and became a popular tourist attraction. Today, the Pont du Gard is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and sightseeing destination for history enthusiasts, who come to marvel at its impressive scale and engineering ingenuity.
Access to clean water has been a fundamental requirement for human survival throughout history and a basic human right to be upheld. Water is the lifeblood of our planet, a precious resource that sustains all life forms. Yet, as we progress through the modern age, the problem of access to clean water embarrassingly remains one of the most pressing issues facing humanity. It is a challenge that has far-reaching consequences, from the spread of waterborne diseases to the perpetuation of poverty and economic disadvantage. No matter how advanced the pumps and hydraulic systems we have if they can’t be put to good use. Overcoming these problems calls for collective effort, a commitment to invest in water infrastructure and to educate people about the importance of clean water and proper sanitation practices. Only so can we ensure that every person has access to this essential resource, and that we safeguard the future of our planet and all the life it sustains.
Do the following statements agree with the information given in Reading Passage 2?
TRUE if the statement agrees with the information
FALSE if the statement contradicts the information
NOT GIVEN if there is no information on this
1 The practice of stockpiling water is thousands of years old
2 Even most primitive liquid containers required certain modifications
3 Aqueduct water transportation principle largely relied on a natural phenomenon
4 Ancient Romans were the pioneers of water supply systems
5 Water transported by aqueducts was reserved for practical applications only
6 Aqueduct planners found a way to traverse difficult terrain
7 Pont du Gard is still used for its intended purpose
Complete the summary below using words from the box. Each word can only be used once.
As time went on, Roman structures became increasingly 8 _____. Cities grew in size, so the 9 _____ of water supply systems had to keep up. Newly-developed 10 _____ found their use in constructing aqueducts. Pont du Gard, a world-famous aqueduct that still stands to this day, is a living reminder of Roman engineers’ 11 _____. Despite suffering greatly during one of the wars it was later 12 _____ to everybody’s joy.
It is a well known fact that life is only 13 _____with water. Without it no biological form can survive for long, whether a man or an animal. Only through joint effort the issue of insufficient supply of fresh drinkable water can become a thing of the past.