DevelopmentEducationGilgit - BaltistanPakistan

opinion – how about a “green” water-lifting system?

by Muhammad Darjat

In this interesting writeup Mr Muhammad Darjat tells us about an innovative  hydropowered water lifting system that delivers 15 gallons of water per minute from the irrigation channel to an elevation of 24 meters uphill and irrigates 0.20 hectare of land. A water storage reservoir with a capacity of 3994 gallons of water, takes five hours to be filled.

The writer can be accessed through

Hydro Powered Water Pumping System (HPWPS) is a tested, proven, cost -effective and environment friendly technology for lifting water. Under this system water is being utilized source of mechanical energy and is coupled with a pump which lifts water from lower altitude to higher altitude.  This requires neither diesel/petrol nor electricity and it is NOT ram pump.

Context:  Small Farmer’s livelihoods especially in the mountains or mountain like settlements have always been dependent on subsistence farming. Mountains, gravity flow of water and terraced land through fragile relationship provide livelihood means for millions of people in the world.


Substantial part of family incomes of small farmers in mountainous regions and are engaged in mixed farming practices- growing cereals, planting fruit trees, vegetable, fodder and livestock rearing. Planting domestic forest trees are vital part of the farming systems and an essential source for timber, fuel and fodder.


Irrigated land is becoming scarcer in the mountain settlements. In most cases farmers in the mountainous area describe the land assets into two categories: developed land {below the canal/channel} and undeveloped land {above the canal/channel} and in some ecological zones it is divided into irrigated and rain fed area.       


Land below the canal/ channel:

For centuries farmers have been utilizing water as a key resource in bringing land under cultivation through constructing irrigation facilities through gravity flow. In the mountainous region one can find hundreds of irrigation canals/ channels constructed by local people to sustain their livelihoods. But field observation and discussion with the farmers reveal that population pressure has shrunken landholding size below the channels.


Land above the canal/channels: 


The land above the channel in some cases is rain fed area partially compliments farmer’s income through better harvests. But in many cases the land above the channel is waste land- hardly have vegetation of some kinds. The land is neither pasture nor has natural forest and the top soils are washed away resulting filling existing irrigation channels- an additional workload of repair and maintenance.


The question is, can such land be developed/ irrigated or cultivated with minimum investment? The answer is yes.


A viable option:


Responding to the needs of many but demand of one farmer in Pakistan, water powered water pumping system was designed, manufactured and tested during the year 2000 in a small village up in the Karakarum Mountains. Under the system water is being used source of mechanical energy and coupled with a pump which lifts water from a lower altitude to higher altitude.     


A live example: 


A farmer in Pakistan has been operating the system for the past few years. This farmer had a piece of barren land and had fixed conventional diesel driven motor pump with the objective to cultivate its small farm. The land was at a higher altitude above the village irrigation channel. But high cost of fuel {diesel} and high cost of maintenance forced the farmer to abandon cultivation of land above the canal/ channel. At the same time he did not want to see his crops to be perished which included fruit and forest trees and fodder. His quest for alternative source of energy with almost no fuel cost forced him to get technical support to revive the system.         


The farmer’s interest/ need and site situation coupled with engineer’s knowledge changed farmer’s perception- “Not to abandon cultivation above the canal/channel”. The technical solution by the engineer revealed to devise a system where hydraulic energy could be used to lift the required water through cost-effective means to save the crops from perishing which was complimenting the family livelihood.   


The water flow in a communal irrigation channel in the village was the source of energy for lifting the required water to irrigate the land. 


A water lifting system is fixed at an existing irrigation channel just below the available land and this location is called pumping station. The water energy turns the runner creates mechanical power. This power operates the pump and lifts water up to the storage tank, constructed at an elevation of 24 meters from pumping station.


The system delivers 15 gallons of water per minute form the irrigation channel to an elevation of 24 meters uphill and irrigates 0.20 hectare of land. 

A water storage reservoir with a capacity of 3994 gallons of water, takes five hours to be filled.

The farmer irrigates 0.2 hectare land in two days on the basis of five hours operation of the system per day. If the farmer operates 10 hours per day it can irrigate 0.4 hectare in one day.


With this system the farmer has established orchards and domestic forest trees popular, Russian olive and fodder and even grows cereal crops.   


For 24 hours, this system can lift 21,600 gallons of water and could be used according to the type of crop grown and its need.


Water lifting efficiency will vary from location to location depending upon the discharge available, difference of height between the pumping station to the potential land to be irrigated and design of the machine.   


The system is recommended for growing domestic forest plans, fruit trees and fodder; however natural resource management experts and the farmers can justify best use of available water for growing crops of choice based on nature of the land.


Dissemination of technology/ Potential locations: 

The system is most useful in areas where there is canal/ irrigation channel and above the channel it has barren land- either slops or flat land.   


Other potential sites could be barren lands above the river beds which are still undeveloped and un-irrigated for the past many years.


The owners of barren lands at such location can irrigate their centuries old barren land by lifting irrigation water through this technology with paying- No electricity bills, No diesel/ petrol charges.   .


Those farmers who have developed piece of land and are using diesel/petrol or electric motor can also replace their conventional pumping system with this technology with the condition that the site best fits into the feasibility conditions.


Soil stabilization: The system is most useful in locations where there is soil erosion and the nature of the ground is unsafe and destabilized. The system could be used to lift water from lower part to higher elevation and trees could be planted to control soil and mud flows.


Repair and maintenance:

Operation and maintenance of the system is very simple: requires cleaning and checking nut bolts and greasing bearings at few days interval.


Secondly, it requires replacing the springs and washers of the pump every few weeks. The spare parts: nut bolts, bearings, springs, washers and belts etc are easily available from local hardware shops at reasonable rates in Pakistan.


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  1. Good article and interesting technology. I would like to ask Darjat where and how to get this technology if someone is intereted to install.

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