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Digital Subscriptions > Newsweek International > 23 June 2017 > THE WET SATELLITE

THE WET SATELLITE

Solving the Middle East’s water crisis—with a little help from NASA

@PSchwartzstein

WATER

FOR AT LEAST six of the past 10 years, Ali Saed, a farmer, grew no crops. The rain in his little corner of northern Iraq was too meager, as was the flow of a nearby irrigation canal. He was only a few months away from ditching agriculture for good when he reached out to a distant relative, a government scientist in Baghdad. Saed was told some farmers had tapped groundwater stores, and he wondered if he might be able to do the same. By sizing up satellite images of the surrounding fields, the cousin identified a nearby dip layered with porous rock through which rainwater might once have seeped.

After pooling cash from his neighbors and calling in a drilling team, Saed hit wet pay dirt early last year. “Thanks be to God, we found water,” he says, straddling the new borehole on the periphery of his land. “Finally, we can grow!”

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