News / Brèves
BRICS Silk Road / Route de la soie
Back to previous selection / Retour à la sélection précédente

BRICS on the Move
Expanded Oasis Plan: Egypt Opens World’s Largest Water Treatment Plant

Printable version / Version imprimable

EIRNS—Egypt’s “New Delta” Water Treatment Plant in El Hamman entered the Guinness World Records. The plant went into operation some months ago. According to a wire published June 15 by the Egyptian State Information Service, Egypt celebrated getting the Guinness award with a ceremony attended by Irrigation and Water Resources Minister Hany Sowailem and the President of the Armed Forces Engineering Authority Ahmed El Azazi, the authority that doubled the Suez canal.

The El Hamman plant got awarded with four significant Guinness World Records titles because it is the world’s largest of its kind in terms of surface area and its capacity as it spans over 320,600 square meters and produces 7.5 million cubic meters of fresh water per day or 86.8 cubic meters per second!

Noted NASA space scientist Dr. Farouk El Baz is credited with having come up with the Delta Project. He is a pioneer in the technology of remote sensing, as well as Moon geology, and on development projects on Earth. He is an adviser to the Egypt government on science and infrastructure. Chief geologist on the Apollo Project, he is responsible for putting the first Moon rocks on display back on Earth.

Egypt’s challenges are well known: Over 90% of Egypt’s growing population, currently at 109 million, live on 5% of its territory, mainly the northern fertile Nile Delta. But urbanization is reducing farmland. Egypt is facing a crisis of water scarcity and UNICEF says the country will run dry by 2025.

To tackle this challenge, the government decided in 2021, for a cost of $9.7 billion, to build a 114 km “artificial river” (half of the total cost) in the northwest of the country, that is, a vast water conveyance system and irrigation program known as the “New Delta” project. The objective, in its second phase, is to irrigate 1.2 million acres (9,200 sq km) in the Western Desert, a 25% increase of Egypt’s total cultivated land or an increase of 42% of the Nile Delta. It is the largest irrigation program in Egypt’s history. Crews completed the construction of the plant in 24 months and 27 million manhours, successfully navigating the arrival of specialized equipment from manufacturers from 14 countries. Given the extremely remote location and an expansive workforce of 6,500, project leadership established a nearby camp with a wide range of amenities.

The $522 million El Hammam giant water treatment plant is the key component of a four-phased project.

• Recycled agricultural drainage water in the North Delta and polluted waters from Marriout Lake and the Mediterranean Sea coast in Alexandria will first be collected and travel west via a 50 km conveyance system running parallel to the coast, including 26 km of pipes, and 24 km of open channels.

• Then 22 km underground and 42 km open channel bring the collected untreated water south to the El Hammam station in the desert.

• Once treated, the fresh water produced by El Hammam and a small portion of desalinated water is conveyed to a selected desert area characterized by the quality of arable land and the subsequent development activities for new agricultural and population communities in all fields.

• Another 42 km canal will bring water to irrigate the eastern part of the new farmland.

The El Hammam station contributes to preserving fish wealth, as polluted lakes reduce fish production. The northern lakes account for 75% of Egypt’s fish wealth. The New Delta plan will sharply reduce Egypt’s dependency on foreign grain imports. The Russian invasion of Ukraine in February last year drove a global surge in wheat prices, leaving Egypt struggling as it is the world’s biggest wheat importer. Russia and Ukraine supplied Egypt with 80% of its wheat imports in 2021. Livestock and dairy farming, new industries, connectivity with major ports and roads are included in the program.

The irrigation minister said the project shows the world how Egypt is keen to not waste water “because it is trying to benefit from every drop by reusing agricultural wastewater, after treatment, safely in agriculture.”

For people wondering what armies could be used for in times of peace, Egypt is a magnificent example. [kav]