Environmental Geology

, Volume 57, Issue 2, pp 249–257 | Cite as

Ancient eco-technology of qanats for engineering a sustainable water supply in the Mediterranean Island of Cyprus

  • Theodore A. EndrenyEmail author
  • Huseyin Gokcekus
Special Issue


The qanat water supply technology, which gravity drains mountain aquifers into valleys, is considered as a culturally appropriate and ecological sustainable design to meet northern Cyprus’ drinking water development needs. This research estimates the boundary and water budget for the proposed qanat recharge area of 370 km2, which is in the upper elevations of the limestone dominated Five Finger Mountain Range. The mountain drainage was analyzed using global elevation data from the Shuttle Ranging Topography Mission (SRTM). Efforts to use Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) annual precipitation for water budget inputs failed due to extreme error when tested against 10–30 years of meteorological station data; TRMM under-estimated depths on the narrow mountain peaks. Gage records, while few in number, were area averaged to set average annual precipitation inputs at 530 mm year−1. Evaporation was estimated using a complementary relationship areal evapotranspiration (CRAE) model, setting average atmospheric outputs at 221 mm year−1. Recharge to the qanat aquifer was set by subtracting evaporation from precipitation, and then allocating 50% of the remaining water to environmental services. At 25% development, the qanat system supplies 14 mm3 year−1 of water, meeting the drinking water deficit of 13 mm3.


Water scarcity Remotely sensed data Complementary relationship areal evaporation Ecological engineering 



This research was made possible by generous support from the Cyprus Fulbright Commission through a grant to the primary author. The assistance of Dr. C.-Y Xu in use of the CRAE model is greatly appreciated.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Cyprus Fulbright Scholar and Associate ProfessorState University of New York College of Environmental Science & ForestrySyracuseUSA
  2. 2.Vice-Rector, Chairman Department of Civil Engineering, Near East UniversityTurkish Republic of Northern CyprusCyprusTurkey

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