GREAT MAN-MADE RIVER,
Faculty of Engineering
Department of Civil Engineering
CE 555: Research Methods in Civil Engineering
• Background on Libya.
• Water Reservoirs.
• First water arrival.
• The facts.
• Criticism of the project.
BACKGROUND ON LIBYA
Over 90 percent of Libya is desert. Some of that desert is sparsely vegetated; yet there is enough so animals can
graze on it. But for the most part Libya is covered by the Sahara Desert. Only a small part of the country’s land is
fertile soil and that is most along the Mediterranean coast and in oases. But then there is the other question, where
to find water? Most of the water sources are underground.
Oil money has changed everything in Libya ever since it was discovered in 1959. The connection between oil and
farming in Libya is about water. It takes electricity to pump underground water into irrigation systems. And, all of
Libya’s electricity is generated by burning fossil fuels. Libya’s population of six million people mostly (78%) live
in cities and most of the cities are in the north along the Mediterranean coast.
Rainfall also happens mostly along the Mediterranean coast, primarily in two places:
1) in the northwest corner of Libya near Tripoli.
2) in the northeastern horn of Libya along the Gulf of Sirte, near Benghazi. Any farm land other than in these
locations requires irrigation or is located in an oasis.
LIBYAN WATER SUPPLY BY SOURCE
GMR Groundwater Desalination 21/03/1437
The Great Man-Made River (GMR, النهرالصناعيالعظيم ) is a network of pipes that
supplies water to the Sahara Desert in Libya, from the Nubian Sandstone Aquifer
System fossil aquifer. It is the world's largest irrigation project.
It consists of more than 1,300 wells, most more than 500 m deep, and supplies
6,500,000 m3 of fresh water per day to the cities of Tripoli, Benghazi, Sirte and
elsewhere. The late Libyan Leader Muammar Gaddafi described it as the “Eight
Wonder of the World”.
In 1953, efforts to find oil in southern Libya led to the discovery of large quantities of fresh water underground. The Great
Man-made River Project (GMRP) was conceived in the late 1960s and work on the project began in 1984. The project's
construction was divided into four phases. The first phase required 85 million m³ of excavation and was inaugurated on 28
August 1991. The second phase (dubbed First water to Tripoli) was inaugurated on 1 September 1996.
The project is owned by the Great Man-Made River Project Authority and was funded by the Gaddafi government. The
primary contractor for the first phases was Dong Ah Consortium and the present main contractor is Al Nahr Company Ltd.
The imported goods were made in Korea and destined to the construction of the GMR arrived by sea via the entry port of
Brega (Gulf of Sidra). The rest of goods were made in Libya.
The total cost of the project is projected at more than 25 billion US$. Libya has completed the work to date without the
financial support of major countries or loans from world banks. Since 1990 UNESCO has provided training to engineers
and technicians involved with the project.
Extracting water from an ancient desert aquifer, 500-800m deep, purifying it, then
transporting it to the northern cities and towns of Libya.
Out of 1300 wells planned there are currently 1116 production wells in the project, producing a total of
6.5 million cubic meters of water daily, and divided as follows:
• 476 wells in Hasouna field.
• 300 wells in Kufra field.
• 126 wells in Sarir field.
• 108 wells in Tazerbo field.
• 106 in Ghadames field.
Pre-stressed concrete cylinder pipes With a diameter four meters, and a length seven
There are a total of 4071 kilometers of pipelines in the project:
• 1600km of pipelines in Sarir/Sirte -Tazerbo-Benghazi system.
• 1277km of pipelines in Hasouna-Jeffara system.
• 190km of pipelines in Assdada-Ajdabiya system.
• 383km of pipelines in Tazerbo-kufra system.
• 621km of pipelines in Ghdames-Zuwarah system.
1. 3 October 1983: The General People's Congress held an extraordinary session to draft the resolutions of the
basic people's Congresses, which decided to fund and execute the Great Man-Made River Project.
2. 28 August 1984: Muammar Gaddafi laid the foundation stone in Sarir area for the commencement of the
construction of the Great Man-Made River Project.
3. 28 August 1986: Muammar Gaddafi inaugurated the Brega plant for the production of the pre-stressed
concrete cylinder pipes, which are considered the largest pipes made with pre-stressed steel wire (the majority
of steel wire was made in Italy by the Redaelli Tecna S.p.A. company with its head office in Cologno
Monzese-Milan and its factory in Caivano-Naples). The Sarir plant was also inaugurated on this date.
4. 26 August 1989: Muammar Gaddafi laid the foundation stone for phase two of the Great Man-Made River
As part of the project huge concrete reservoirs were constructed in various parts of the country; Some
of which supply water to the various lines used to regulate and provide on demand potable water, while
other reservoirs were constructed in circular lakes, more than one km in diameter, for farming projects.
Nearly 70% of the water conveyed by the project is intended for agricultural purposes, while the
remaining amount is for domestic consumption throughout the year. The main reservoirs include:
• Ajdabiya Reservoir (storage: 4 million cubic meters).
• Omar Elmokhtar Grand Reservoir (storage: 24 million cubic meters).
• Omar Elmokhtar reservoir (storage: 4.7 million cubic meters).
• Ghordabiya Reservoir (storage: 6.8 million cubic meters).
• Ghordabiya Grand Reservoir (storage: 15.4 million cubic meters).
First water arrival
• 11 September 1989: to Ajdabiya reservoir.
• 28 September 1989 : to Grand Omar Mukhtar reservoir.
• 4 September 1991: to Ghardabiya reservoir.
• 28 August 1996: to Tripoli.
• 28 September 2007: to Gharyan.
The GMR’s first phase covered the construction of the Tazerbo-Sarir-Sirte-Benghazi system, which is often referred to as the SS/TB project. Dong Ah was awarded the
$3.8bn main construction contract in 1983, which was largely completed a decade later.
The first phase programmed breaks down into several distinct parts. The Tazerbo wellfield is connected to a 170,000-cubic-metre collection tank, which is then linked to the
first major 256km pipeline network. This transports water to Sarir, where there are two more 170,000-cubic-metre tanks and the separate Sarir collection system joins the
As part of phase 1, the contractor also built 1,500km of road to transport equipment along, as well as offices, workshops, accommodation and support facilities. These
facilities have since been consolidated into operations and maintenance stations at Tazerbo, Sarir, Braga, Sirte and Benghazi. In addition, Dong Ah and Japan’s Itochu
Corporation built the 90MW Sarir power plant. GMR phase 1 was inaugurated in 1993, although overall completion was not achieved until 1996/97. A total of 284 wells
were to be drilled at the two locations, which would ultimately pump 2 million cm/d of water.
Dong Ah started work on the second phase of the project in 1986, although it was not until 1990 that it was officially awarded the $6.1bn construction contract. During this
phase, which cost $7.4bn in total, 2,115km of pipeline was installed to carry 2.5 million cm/d of water from the east, west and northeast Jabal Hassouna wellfields to
Tarhouna on the Jifarah Plain and then on to Tripoli. In addition, associated pumping stations and regulating tanks were built, along with 2,155km of road. Which aimed to
produce 2.5 mil-lion cm/d of water from 586 wells at the northeast, east and west Jabal Hassouna fields.
Several other international contractors worked on phase 2. These included France’s Vinci Construction, which won a $410m contract to build pumping stations at Al
Gardabiya, Wadi Wishkah and Assdada in 1999.
In 2001, a consortium of Japan’s Nippon Koei and the UK’s Halcrow was awarded the $15.5m contract to design the
third phase of the project, with a reduced scope. This covered the construction of pumping stations at the Kufra
wellfield, a 380km pipeline linking the field with the Sarir/Tazerbo network, along with a 140,000-cubic-metre
regulating tank, flow control stations and roads. The contract ran until 2009 and required new studies of the field to
be carried out. The development of a single wellfield at Kufra was then planned, which would add 1.68 million cm/d
In 2005, Turkey’s Tekfen was awarded the $500m contract to build the pipeline linking Kufra with Sarir, while in
October 2010, Canada’s SNC Lavalin won a $450m contract to design and build the Kufra wellfield system by 2015.
In 2004, Al-Nahr was awarded a $960m contract for the fourth phase of the project, covering drilling, construction of
production facilities and installation of pipeline systems for the Ghadames-Azzawiya-Zuara and Jaghboub-Tobruk
systems at a cost of $960m. The following year, the company awarded a design and project management subcontract
to Brown & Root. The Ghadames-Zuara-Azzawiya section was due to be completed by the end of 2011 although this
was delayed by the civil war.
Among the main companies taking part in the project are:
• Dong Ah Construction Industrial.
• Price Brothers Company - pipe site.
• Pure Technologies Ltd.
• Freyssinet International & Cie.
• The length of the pre-stressed steel wire used in pipe manufacturing a distance enough to rotation around
the earth 280 times
• The amount of concrete used in pipe manufacturing amounted to about five million tons, enough to pave
the way concrete from Sirte, Libya to Bombay, India.
• The result of excavation work, it is Enough to build 20 pyramid the size of Pyramid’s the Great Khufu.
CRITICISM OF THE PROJECT
• The idea its return risk on the environmental situation in the region where the water inventory is not
renewed and will therefore be limited and drain all the water in the south.
• The high cost of 25 billion in the end, then rose to 35 billion, while the payoff is not worth anything in
return for the real limitations and inevitable force making money wasted College.
• Some well water poisoned and its transition to the citizens because of negligence in the detection of
all water wells has established a state for many treatment plants, raising the cost and this is due to
neglect and lack of a real feasibility study.
This project is one of the major projects in the world, especially in the field of drinking water, but we
agree that the very high cost compared with desalination projects for seawater.
As well as any losses caused by the war from non-completion of the project and lack of maintenance.
• Website of great man-made river, Libya.
• Great man-made river project in Libya.
• www.Wikipedia.com/ great man-made river.