Egypt is excavating the desert to construct the largest artificial river in the northwest region of the country. This ambitious undertaking is an integral component of Egypt’s ‘New Delta’ project, located adjacent to the Dabaa nuclear power plant, Egypt Independent reports.
Abbas Sharaky, Professor of Water Resources and Irrigation, said that in recent years, Egypt has significantly expanded its agricultural endeavors by embarking on various large-scale national projects. One such project involves cultivating a staggering 1.5 million acres of land, primarily situated in the Western Desert, utilizing non-renewable groundwater at an impressive 80 percent capacity.
The country is also working on another project west of Alexandria, the New Delta, encompassing a vast cultivation area of 2.2 million acres. This expansive initiative relies on surface water sourced from the Rashid branch of the Nile River, as well as treated agricultural drainage water through the implementation of an artificial river. The artificial river serves as a conduit for transferring water from the al-Hammam plant, which holds the distinction of being the largest treatment facility globally, in addition to utilizing a portion of the available groundwater.
“The artificial river project is one of the most important water projects in recent years in terms of construction engineering and economic importance. It is a giant engineering work consisting of three channels that are constructed in different conditions from the rest of the irrigation channels in Egypt, as it transports water to desert areas that are more than 100 meters above the Nile River level,” explained Sharaky.
The country is also working on another project west of Alexandria, the New Delta, encompassing a vast cultivation area of 2.2 million acres
“The first channel is 42 km long, including 26 km of pipes, and 16 km of open channels to transport about 10 million cubic meters from the Rashid branch within the Mostakbal Egypt project,” he explained, adding that this, “represents the first phase of the grand project in the New Delta, with a total of about 3.5 billion cubic meters annually to irrigate about 600,000 acres, in addition to groundwater wells to irrigate 450,000 acres, with a total of 1.05 million acres, in which there are six large water pumping stations.”
“The second channel extends about 170 km from Hammam station to transfer seven million cubic meters/ day, with a total of about 2.5 billion cubic meters, to the south of Dabaa, to irrigate about 800,000 acres, of which 22 km are pipes with a length of 220 km and a diameter of thee meters, and 148 km of open canal, with 13 water pumping stations.”
“The third channel within the Jannat Masr (Egypt Paradise) project, which is two pipe lines with a length of 12 km, to irrigate about 64,000 acres, from the southern and western wastewater treatment plants in the 6th of October City, and the desalination of salty groundwater through 132 underground wells, and three water pumping stations,” he added.
According to Sharaky, the primary hurdle at present is ensuring an adequate water supply, as the Nile's capacity for pumping the required volume is constrained by the limited fixed annual share of 55.5 billion cubic meters. Additionally, the high salinity of the groundwater poses further challenges.
In order to maximize the benefit from the artificial river, “we must focus on growing crops that thrive in the Egyptian desert lands with a high return for internal use or for export to pay part of the project cost,” he added.