The IBT Map Project: Geovisualization of Interbasin Transfers of Water in Google Earth

Authors: Philip Chaney*, Auburn University
Topics: Water Resources and Hydrology
Keywords: Interbasin transfer, water resources, Google Earth, geovisualization, Central Arizona Project, sustainability
Session Type: Virtual Poster
Day: 4/7/2021
Start / End Time: 4:40 PM / 5:55 PM
Room: Virtual 52
Presentation File: Download



The Roman Aqueduct was one of society’s earliest solutions to alleviating water scarcity. The modern-day version is known as an Interbasin Transfer (IBT), which refers to moving water from one drainage basin to another. Benefits include water for agriculture, domestic and industrial uses, but source basins may suffer environmental and societal impacts. The impacts are cause for great concern, but the benefits suggest IBTs will remain an attractive option into the future. Therefore, people need to learn more about IBTs as we strive to manage this limited resource in a more sustainable manner. Unfortunately, there does not appear to be a global database of IBTs to support education and research on this topic, which will become more critical with the looming challenges of population growth and climate change. This project focuses on major IBTs 10s to 100s of miles in length, of which there are over 100 worldwide according to some sources. Modern IBTs often consist of a complex network of canals, tunnels, pipelines, and other features, thus, geovisualization is critical for understanding their complexity and function. Google Earth was chosen for this task because of its visualization capabilities and ease of use. The products are available via the Internet at no cost and include digital maps in KML format, instructions for conducting simple analytical tasks in Google Earth, and a glossary of key terms. IBT maps available at present include the L.A. Aqueduct, Central Arizona Project, Cutzamala System (Mexico), and Irtysh-Karaganda System (Kazakhstan), with many more in progress.

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