GSA Connects 2021 in Portland, Oregon

Paper No. 98-11
Presentation Time: 4:25 PM


PARIZEK, Katarin, Richard R. Parizek and Associates, 751 McKee Street, State College, PA 16803, PARIZEK, Richard, Department of Geosciences Emeritus, Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA 16802, EL GOHARY, Amr, Geology, National Research Centre Egypt, Cairo, Egypt, CAKIR, Recep, 1605 Vineyard Ave SE, Olympia, WA 98501 and WALTERS, Elizabeth, Art History, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA 16802

As population grows compounded by stresses of less water in the Nile, salinization of crop lands, destruction of village homes and antiquities, land reclamation projects are created in the wadi desert lands of Egypt. Environmental consequences are evident from the Wadi El-Sayada Land Development Project in Upper Egypt projected to reclaim 11,736 ha of desert high above the Nile flood plain. Penn States' Hierakronpolis Temple-Town Mission recorded through time the flooding and salinization of fertile land farmed for millennia, destruction of towns located near the first Nile terrace escarpment above annual flood levels, damage, destruction and continuing threat to important archaeological sites.

Our Mission documented rising groundwater levels at the Temple-Town and nearby World Heritage Site "Old Fort" not attributed to flood irrigation practices on nearby land and onsite disposal of domestic waste water. The water table was > 4.2 m deep during 1896 site excavation, rose to 2.2 m deep by 1967 and now averages 1.1 m deep.

More than 145 shallow piezometers were used to measure seasonal water levels and temperature changes. Seven 20 to 135m deep drill holes, >300 shallow seismic profiles, water quality and remote sensing studies were used to define sources of the rising water. We found groundwater nourished by returned Wadi El Sayada flows pressurized sand and gravel under the Temple-Town site overlain by Nile silts and clay causing upward leakage of groundwater, formation of surface brine pools in early excavations, rising water table and accumulation of salts causing destruction of farmland, homes, ancient artifacts and archaeological sites.

Before the Arab Spring uprising, Cairo oversaw construction of three dewatering and monitoring wells at both the "Old Fort" and Temple-Town Sites. These were not placed in service given other national preservation needs. An early undersized dewatering canal no longer meets farm drainage needs and is not deep enough to use passive methods to substantially lower heads in existing dewatering wells or the shallow water table. El-Sayada drainage facilities have not addressed the environmental problems identified by our mission.

Construction of a new drainage canal will require cooperation and commitment of various ministries, adequate funding and disruption of some land uses.