PASSIVE METHODS FOR CONTROLLING RISING WATER LEVELS FOR HIERAKONPOLIS-TEMPLETOWN, OTHER ANTIQUITIES, HOMES AND FARMLAND
These antiquities are being damaged or threatened by rising water levels (nearly 4.0 m since 1892) and accumulation of evaporate salts. This is documented by depths of excavations, measurements obtained from a network of 149 shallow piezometers, 6 domestic wells and 13 project deep-monitoring wells. Water level data reveal a complex water table configuration and changing flow pattern supported by temperature, salinity and conductivity maps.
Rising artesian heads within sand and gravel, semi-confined by Nile silts, are related to irrigation return flows derived from the Wadi-El-Saya’ada Land Reclamation Project 1.5 to 13 km from the Temple-Town up to 50 m above the Nile. More than 6,742 ha out of the planned 11,706 were cultivated by 2002, resulting in the destruction of hundreds of mudbrick structures, salinization of fertile Nile flood plain and precluding deeper excavation.
A pumping test demonstrated that artesian heads could be controlled by costly active pumping not feasible given Egypt’s political and economic uncertainties. A clay confining bed complicates dewatering of an upper silt aquifer nourished by local flood irrigation, canal leakage and domestic wastewater. A network of passive tile drains and flowing artesian wells would be a less costly, more sustainable solution to control shallow groundwaters and rising artesian heads if a drainage canal were to be upgraded. Also, thousands of mudbrick structures and important antiquities could be protected and salinization of cropland reduced or prevented if a new drainage canal were to be properly located and constructed through cooperation of various ministries.