By Khaled Mohamadi
Egypt is the third most populated country in Africa with a rising population of 99,375,741. It is also characterized by having an arid climate with little or no rain. The combination of aridity, water scarcity and the rapidly growing population are major issues of concern to the government.
In this day and age populations are growing faster and demand for water is arising as ever before. Governments struggle to satisfy high demand for clean and usable water to serve multiple sectors of the society. Water is no longer considered a resource that will be consumed and wasted after use. There is a crucial and severe need to reuse water.
Wastewater treatment has long been existing in Egypt. However, a massive project has been working its way through several phases of discussions, planning and now execution. It will introduce waste water treatment for agriculture and reuse after irrigation.
2030 was the original date to announce the official launch of this project. But according to Egypt’s Minister of Water Resources and Irrigation Mohamed Abdel Atti, the project will be launched in 2021. It seems that the Egyptian government is wasting no time to erect this project as statistics show that annual consumption of water is 79.5 BCM/year while the available resources offer 66 BCM/year (sources of 2014) . Today statistics show 110 BCM against 60 BCM in 2018. Source (CAPMAS)
“According to Sayed Ismail, deputy head of Project Management Unit (PMU), Egypt’s sanitation program wants to focus on increasing the productivity of wastewater management companies to ultimately provide a sustainable solution to drinking water and effective sanitation services” source: Egyptian-Streets.
The central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics (CAPMAS) of Egypt has stated that water availability per capita has decreased by 60% since 1970
The agricultural sector is the largest water consumer in Egypt. It consumes 85% of its water resources. And so, waste water treatment will be directed to Agriculture according to Mohamed Abdel Atti.
Wastewater treatment will provide TWW (Tertiary Waste Water) to agriculture. It is the final phase of waste water treatment before it is reused. TWW offers arid lands and sandy soils an elevation in organic matter content and hence increasing its cationic exchange capacity. Not only that but it also permits for the recycling of Potassium, phosphorus and nitrogen required for plant growth.
According to Egypt-Today, Yellow Mountain Wastewater Treatment Plant irrigates 150,000 acres of citrus fruits by its production of 2.5 million cubic meters of treated water. “60% of the plant’s electricity is produced in house” said Mohamed Abdel Wahab the plant director in an interview with Youm7
Moreover, irrigation technologies developed throughout the century have proven value specifically in arid and semi-arid countries. Rain scarcity is a major factor to the importance and urgency of providing alternative solutions. However, drip and sprinkler methodology are very effective to decrease irrigation demand by 15 to 25%. In other words sprinkler and drip can save 8 to 13 BCM/year . Although these technologies will greatly contribute to saving fresh water, but that will surely decrease water drainage and hence decrease the available water to reuse.
According to the FAO (United Nations Food and agricultural Organization), the Egyptian Government is working on controlling agricultural irrigation drainage within an integrated water resource plan. In the year 2000 agricultural treated and reused drainage waste water amount to 5 BCM. New plans are to reach 12 BCM at 2017.
Water reuse answers to major challenges such as irrigation, industrial use, and surface water replenishment. Especially in a farmer’s periodic cultivation, it has been reported that shortages of water has greatly affected their ability to water their crops. Both in Delta and Upper Egypt trouble in results of water scarcity has urged the government as the project leader alongside with all participating stakeholders to expedite progress.