A torrent of ideas;Discovery series;Water

6th August 1999 at 01:00
Putting water to work since the Ice Age

c. 8000BC

The longest cold snap in recent years comes to an end. The last Ice Age saw previously temperate areas covered by glaciers and ice sheets which lasted the best part of a million years


Work begins on the Grand Canal in China. This was the world's longest artificial waterway and by the 8th century was transporting 2 million tonnes of grain annually. It was abandoned after 1849. Here, left, are barges on today's longest artificial waterway at Suzhou in Jiangsu province

c. 80AD

The Romans build a 39-metre high aqueduct in Segovia, Spain, now a World Heritage site. The Romans built thousands of aqueducts to bring water into their homes. Most of these were in the form of arched bridges like this one 1869

The Suez Canal is completed. It's the first major ship canal linking the Mediterranean and Red Seas and a major international waterway. It is 114 miles long and 197ft wide at its narrowest point. It is open to vessels of any nation except in war time


The Thames Barrier - a kindof hydraulic dam to protect London from flooding - opens. It cost around pound;500 million and has saved the capital from storm tides 31 times. But climate and industrial changes mean that millions more will need to be spent updating its defences

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