May 17, 2018
Over 600 million Chinese people live in water-stressed regions. And perhaps nowhere are China's water challenges more acute than in the dusty farm-town regions of Xinjiang, along China's old Silk Road. This episode follows a 2000-year journey to hear the water conservation story of one town, Turpan, from an ancient underground canal system ("karez"), to a paradoxical modern irrigation effort that only exacerbated water table depletion, to a complete rethink of how communities can conserve their water.
We sit down with Jiang Liping, a Senior Irrigation Engineer at the World Bank who recently completed a six-year water conservation project in Turpan. The episode explores how satellite data, a switch from growing wheat to grapes, and a revamp of water conservation accounting were able to help restore water back to Turpan's rivers, lakes, and ecosystems.