The Water Supply History of Underground Aqueducts in Egypt

Authored by: Abdelkader T. Ahmed , Mohamed H. Elsanabary

Underground Aqueducts Handbook

Print publication date:  November  2016
Online publication date:  November  2016

Print ISBN: 9781498748308
eBook ISBN: 9781315368566
Adobe ISBN:


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Egypt lies in the northeastern corner of Africa and occupies a total area of approximately 1 million km2. The surface topography of Egypt is characterized by a vast desert plateau separated in the middle by the Nile valley and its delta, which occupy about 5% of the total country area. The Nile River is the main source of water in Egypt as it supplies around 97% of its renewable water resources; however, there are some places in Egypt that depend on underground aqueducts either coming from the Nile or groundwater aquifers. The main aquifer is known as the Nubian Sandstone Aquifer System (NSAS) in the Western Desert of Egypt; it contains roughly 150,000 billion m3 of water. However, Egypt's access for this aquifer has been so far limited to only three main access points in the Western Desert oases (PBC 2011). The evaluation of groundwater resources of NSAS indicated that 1020 million m3/yr of groundwater can be exploited in the New Valley Oases in Egypt. At present, only about 600 million m3/yr of groundwater is being used for irrigation. Centuries ago, NSAS was the source of many springs. In recent generations, hundreds of wells were tapped to this very large aquifer system that caused lowering of the water level. Nowadays, most water in the area is drawn from wells, whereas springs have disappeared. The second main area of groundwater resources in Egypt is Sinai Peninsula at the northeastern corner of Egypt. There are some natural springs such as Ain Furtaga in the southern province of Sinai and Ain EL Gudeirat in the sedimentary plateau of North Sinai (La Moreaux and Tanner 2015).

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