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GROUNDWATER MANAGEMENT AND WATER GOVERNANCE THE EGYPTIAN EXPERIENCE, By Fatma Abdel Rahman Attia, Professor Emeritus, Research Institute for Groundwater The National Water Research Center Ministry of Water Resources and Irrigation, Land and Water Days in Near East & North Africa, 15-18 December 2013, Amman, Jordan

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  1. 1. GROUNDWATER MANAGEMENT AND WATER GOVERNANCE THE EGYPTIAN EXPERIENCE  Fatma Abdel Rahman Attia Professor Emeritus, Research Institute for Groundwater The National Water Research Center Ministry of Water Resources and Irrigation
  2. 2. One of the fundamentals of IWRM is the involvement of all stakeholders and beneficiaries with the objective should be to transform the competition between stakeholders into a form of cooperation that achieves the largest overall revenue with the least Sectoral harm. Groundwater protection aims at preventing nonbeneficial uses of the resource and prevention of its degradation (quantitative and qualitative); leading to a sustainable development of the resource base and activities based on it. A special case is non-renewable groundwater, where the word sustainability is not straightforward.
  3. 3. Issues facing groundwater sustainability are of various nature; they are not only technical but extend to cover institutional, social and legislative aspects.   Agriculture is the most spread economic activity, it withdraws the major portion of groundwater; and, in return, it results in the most spread groundwater pollution (poor application of afro-chemicals). The lack of comprehensive monitoring (early warning) and enforcement of legislation is adversely affecting the sustainability of groundwater.
  4. 4. •Due to the shortage of fresh water, agricultural and domestic drainage water is being recycled irrespective of the adverse impact on groundwater, especially in the rural areas where shallow groundwater is the main source of potable water (hand pumps). •Both decision makers and the public lack the proper understanding of degradation mechanisms, resulting in a continuous degradation of this precious resource. •Under some hydrogeological conditions, groundwater can be free flowing. If wells are uncontrolled or poorly protected, water wastage and deterioration as well as inundation of agricultural lands may occur.
  6. 6. Groundwater Management in the Egyptian Oases-Nubian Sandstone Aquifer System The original population have developed strict regulations for water rights and equitable distribution of water of water shares based on costs and efforts. This has resulted in the protection of the non-renewable resources for decades. However, in some oases (Siwa and Farafra), control of flowing wells resulted in high water losses to the agricultural lands and the inundation of their agricultural lands
  7. 7. INSTITUTIONAL RESPONSES •Land ownership has been documented and existing water points licensed. •The new water points have been designed based on real requirements. •The beneficiaries of each water point (only few at the beginning) have been assisted in the formation of “Water Users Associations” to ensure appropriate distribution of water shares and irrigation schedule. •These actions have led to cooperation among the local community and the new settlers and reduction of water losses.
  8. 8.   In Farafra and Siwa; Old wells have been closed and replaced by controlled ones. The owners started to complain at the beginning, but have been convinced when they found their lands and old springs come back into operation. The positive results of this step have encouraged the design of an integrated water management scheme (starting in Farafra), taking into consideration the requirements and habits of the community and the geomorphology of the sites. This scheme is, at present subject to evaluation prior to extended applications. The aim is to use each drop of water economically and save the environment from degradation.
  9. 9. CHAIN MANAGEMENT Fresh grw Drainage Qin Qout ET High Qin Value/sensitive uses Medium-value Less sensitive AQUIFER Fish pond Salt Evaporation pond
  10. 10. Land and Groundwater Management in the North Delta-Development and Management of Brackish Groundwater Recent Problems Due to the increase in groundwater development in the delta, along with the gradual increase (still limited) of sea water level, saline water intrusion has increased (lost balance); resulting in the formation of sabkhas (a result of upward leakage from underlying saline groundwater) and loss of large agriculture lands. Locally Decided Upon Solutions The farmers (land owners) have been approached by some investors who proposed turning their lands (sabkhas) into fish farms (in partnership), based on locally extracted brackish groundwater. The farmers’ revenue from this initiative has been more than doubled. However, after few years, the salinity of pumped groundwater increased, becoming unsuitable for the originally growing types of fish.
  11. 11. INSTITUTIONAL SUPPORT  Drilling a number of groundwater monitoring batteries, each constituting of three wells (225, 400 and 600 meters deep). Results of monitoring (head and salinity) and simulation indicated that: 1. Pumping brackish groundwater will create a sort of water divide between the sea water intrusion interface and the fresh groundwater in the delta; thus protecting present investments in the southern portion of the delta from being lost. 2. Changes in salinity distribution in the middle delta are expected to increase the space for fresh water infiltration (e.g. rain water if any). This has encouraged the people to dig shallow boreholes for skimming fresh water for domestic uses (like the locals have been and are still practising). 3. On the scale of single water wells, groundwater salinity is expected to increase with continuous pumping due to upconing from deeper saline groundwater.
  12. 12. Accordingly, the following recommendations have been made to the owners: 1. 2. 3. The need to contact the local representative of the ministry prior to any decision on drilling wells to ensure their water right (licensing) and get enough information about the groundwater quality and the expected change of quality with time. For the existing wells, the ministry started to explore the present situation and recommend to the owners either to drill new wells at different depths (e.g. shallower wells) or change the type of species to those suitable for the groundwater quality. The responsible offices of the ministry (research and executive bodies) took the lead to finalize the studies and intensify the monitoring system in regions subject to sea water intrusion/upconing to ensure appropriate licensing of new developments in such regions.
  13. 13. Reuse of Treated Sewage Water in Irrigation on Groundwater Direct Reuse  Nitrogen, entering the soil system as ammonium, is generally reduced (by about 70%) as a result of plant uptake and adsorption.  Phosphorous is also reduced by 25-70% due to plant uptake.  Although deep groundwater does not contain microorganisms; water in shallow hand pumps are microbiologically polluted.
  14. 14. Artificial Recharge of treated sewage water (sand and clay beds)  The efficiency of the clay basin with respect to the organic matter depletion is greater than that of the sand basin. But, the major problem is the very low infiltration rate and, thus, the possible rate of recharge that can be achieved (SAT).  Reduction in BOD of about 80%.  Reduction in COD by about 75%.  Monitoring is an important component of the process to ensure early alarm of any pollution before it becomes unrecoverable.
  15. 15. Institutional Support   The “Water supply and waste water “company organized a series of training workshops for their staff prior to the large-scale projects they are planning on the reuse of treated waster water in irrigation. A number of professionals from various backgrounds have been invited to deliver lectures. Concerning groundwater protection:  Involving the Groundwater department of the ministry from the beginning for assessing the groundwater vulnerability to pollution in the sites and implementing monitoring systems; and  Including the Water and Sanitation Company in the planned “Atlas” for water resources the ministry is starting, addressing: the total water resources potential; present allocation; and quality.
  16. 16. LESSONS LEARNED AND RECOMMENDATIONS      Groundwater should be considered a strategic water resource…It should not be exploited unless an added value is ensured. Groundwater is a fragile water resource, once polluted it is almost unrecoverable … Protection is easier than remediation. Monitoring should be considered an integral part of the project cycle for timely action. Reuse of treated sewage water for irrigation should consider the short- and long-term impacts on groundwater; with a special attention to hand pumps in local communities. We should not try to invent high cost and complicated technologies; but rather use what is in place with minor modifications whenever possible; based on discussions with the local communities.
  17. 17.      Decentralization is a key factor in groundwater protection and governance. However, we should not forget the characteristics of the Hydrogeological boundaries. Human resources development, including both professionals and operators (technicians) should receive proper attention. Awareness is an important factor in the success of actions. It should not be restricted to the normal public, but should also extend to the decision makers. Enforcement of water protection legislation, and especially groundwater protection laws, should be given high attention (preceded by awareness). Participation of groundwater users is a major concern. It should be ensured prior to the decision on any new scheme and all over the project cycle. We should not forget the role of women (professionals or users) in protecting groundwater.
  18. 18. LESSONS LEARNED AND RECOMMENDATIONS   One fact, that is sometimes unforeseen, is that most of the aquifers containing fresh groundwater are underlain by formations containing non-fresh water. This fact dictates that research be carried out on the whole aquifer system, evaluating the potential (reserves) of both fresh and non-fresh groundwater. Changing the type of land use could, thus be considered from the beginning of development. Regional maps (Atlas) for all types of water, including the quality, should be made available for future plans on water allocation to uses.