I agree with Dr. Hamza on this. I was asked in 2008 to do a prefeasibility about water supply for the project for a ministerial committee formed at that time to assess the project.
First, most of the path, in particular south of Cairo, is on an elevated plateau, reaching elevations of about 500 m above sea level in the vicinity of Kom Ombo – Luxor. There are virtually no water resources available. Thus the project has to depend exclusively on pumping of Nile water to the development locations. Dr. Elbaz is proposing a 1.6 m diameter pipe to convey water from Lake Nasser to Alamein along the proposed path. I have calculated the amount of water that this pipe could convey and found that it would serve a small fraction of the population he is talking about (a maximum of 1.5 million people, compared to the 20 to 30 million he is talking about). Further, the cost per cubic meter conveyed through this proposed pipe would reach more than 15 pounds, which is three times the cost of desalination, meaning that you are paying 15 pounds per meter cube for a resource that you already have, just to convey the water. Further,! this is assuming that the water is allocated totally for drinking, you haven’t planted a tree nor built a factory. If we consider other uses, the maximum possible population number would be further reduced.
In summary, the project is in need of a sound multidisciplinary feasibility assessment. I am sure urban planners (are there any in this group) would have something to say about this. I agree with Dr. Khaled that we do not want to repeat our past mistakes (like Toshka). I was in Toshka last year on a short consultancy mission. It is a real pitty. Canals have been dug through swelling soil, which has led to the destruction of the lining material. Until now, the area reclaimed in Toshka is a small fraction of what was proposed. I travelled more than 30 km along the canal during a morning of a working day and hardly met a soul.
Ashraf Ghanem, Ph. D.
Professor of Water Resources Engineering
Irrigation and Hydraulics Department
Vice Director, Center of Studies and Designs for Water Projects
Faculty of Engineering
Phone: +2 02 35732949
Fax: + 2 02 35732948
Mobile: + 2 012 1171725
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