Demand for freshwater supplies in arid and semi-arid countries worldwide is on the rise because of increasing populations and limited water supplies. This problem is exemplified in countries of Saharan Africa (North Africa) and the Middle East, where scarcity of water resources is contributing to political instability, disputes, conflicts, and terrorism. This project will be investigating ways to integrate renewable groundwater resources into the water budget of watersheds in arid regions, as well as demonstrating the viability of alternative water resources that could complement or substitute for surface waters, thus easing usage conflicts and allowing some water flow for the ecosystems.
The Sinai Peninsula of Egypt, the study area, has two major sources of water: (1) the renewable flash flood water and (2) the non-renewable groundwater of the Nubian Aquifer, an extensive aquifer in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, and Chad, that is hosted in the Nubian Sandstone. In Egypt, that aquifer covers large domains of the Eastern Desert, the Western Desert, and Sinai. Currently, Egypt is using almost its full allocation of the Nile River water (i.e., 55 billion m3/yr) (Gheith and Sultan, 2002). With the growing population (~2 million/year), Egypt has to explore alternative renewable water resources. In this exercise, we adopt methodologies to identify renewable water resources other than the River Nile. Although the Nubian Aquifer is a non-renewable resource, we provide ways to identify previously undetected areas of natural discharge that could be used in a sustainable manner.
This project entails utilizing our recent findings from our UNDP/GEF-funded project entitled “Developing Renewable Groundwater Resources in Arid Lands: A Pilot Case – The Eastern Desert of Egypt” where we developed an innovative approach to locate renewable groundwater reservoirs, defined criteria for targeting potential wells, and identified about 200 well locations in the Eastern Desert of Egypt. We will test and refine the methodologies we developed for the Eastern Desert to identify similar potential renewable groundwater resources in the Sinai Peninsula.
Collaborator: Dr. Farouk Soliman, Suez Canal University, Ismailia, Egypt
Funded by: NATO (Environmental Security Program)