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Egypt, Ethiopia, Sudan to work to resolve Nile dam feud by January 15, 2020.

Egypt, Ethiopia, Sudan to work to resolve Nile dam feud by January 15, 2020.

Ethiopia's Grand Renaissance Dam (GERD) is seen as it undergoes                            

construction work on the river Nile in, Ethiopia September 26, 2019 (Photo: Reuters)

Following talks in Washington mediated by US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and World Bank President David Malpass to iron out differences over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam(GERD), the officials said the water ministers of the three countries would hold four technical meetings in Washington toward completion of an agreement by January 15, 2020.The World Bank and the Treasury would support and attend the meetings as observers and the ministers will attend further meetings in the US capital on 9 December and 13 January to assess progress in their talks, the statement added.

Cairo fears the massive $4 billion upstream project on Ethiopia's section of the river would drastically cut its water supply. Ethiopia says the dam, which is about 70 percent complete, is central to its economic development and its plan to be a regional power hub.

If the countries cannot reach a deal by January 15, they will refer the matter to their heads of state or government or seek further external mediation, under Article 10 of the terms of a 2015 cooperation deal signed between the three countries in Khartoum.

It has been reaffirmed the significance of the Nile to the development of the people of Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan, the importance of trans boundary cooperation, and their shared interest in concluding an agreement.

Hours earlier, US President Donald Trump tweeted that talks he held with the officials of the three countries went well. Trump stepped in to help resolve the feud following a call by Egypt for a mediator after the latest round of talks between the three countries collapsed last month.

Dr. Amal Khashab's picture

Thank Dr. Amal for the Post!

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Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Nov 18, 2019 2:05 pm GMT

How confident are you that this deal can be struck by that deadline? It seems like contentious issues like this are always one small misstep away from falling through

Dr. Amal Khashab's picture
Dr. Amal Khashab on Nov 18, 2019 8:56 pm GMT

Thanks Matt . Two main issues of debate are:

(1) Time of first filling of the reservoir,

(2) Seasonal operation ,especially during draught .

Leaks from last week talks concluded  that 7 years as time span for first filling had been agreed upon , which was an Egyptian side request .  Let us hope to close all issues .

Laurent Segalen's picture
Laurent Segalen on Nov 18, 2019 2:39 pm GMT

I foresee a 100y headache in front of us. Lots of noises on all sides in the future.

Let's just pray that there won't be a severe drought, because then things will really turn nasty. 100m Egyptians rely on the Nile to live.

Dr. Amal Khashab's picture
Dr. Amal Khashab on Nov 18, 2019 9:02 pm GMT

Hi Laurent , 100 years headache is too long . Ethiopian Authorities anticipate to full operation GERD on 2022. Egypt insists to reach final agreement in 2020 . Therefore, It went to USA and WB for assistance.

David Svarrer's picture
David Svarrer on Nov 19, 2019 9:55 am GMT

I have studied quite some dam projects, and, there is something which I do not understand, and I beg for a professional and elaborate response:

Everyone criticizing such dam projects say that it will affect the amount of water flowing.

My take is maybe too layman like, and even though I have worked with power for maybe 20 years on/off - I learned something in Geography about lakes: 

A lake which has an outflow also has an inflow. And a dam is an artificial lake. So. If 100 million cubic meter of water flows INTO the dam, then the same amount of water will also flow out.

During the FILLING of the dam, naturally there can be some changes in the outflow. But when the dam is full, the inflow and outflow, measured over some time, must necessarily match? 

The only effect I would see causing less flow, is evaporation from the dam surface, which naturally can be substantial - but - due to the quite extensive amount of heat (2.257 kJ per gram) for water to evaporate - we are not discussing even 5% of the water disappearing this way.

So, please - will someone who is specialist in this kind of generation, be willing to explain?

Thanks in advance.

David Svarrer

Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Nov 19, 2019 12:35 pm GMT

Here's one set of explanations I found for how dams can affect the water flow (both quantity and quality) downstream as compared with before a dam was put in:

By trapping river-borne nutrients, dams can lead to the growth of toxic algaes. Massive algal blooms in reservoirs in the ex-USSR, South Africa and California have rendered reservoirs unfit to drink. Four hydro dams in California have nearly killed off the fisheries of the Klamath River, and made the river unsafe for drinking or swimming.  Water stored for months or even years behind a major dam may become lethal to most life in the reservoir and in the river for long distances below the dam. Reservoirs that receive treated effluents from upstream towns and cities are more apt to have this problem.  

Dams also lead to riverbed deepening for tens or even hundreds of kilometers below the reservoir. Riverbed deepening can lower the groundwater along a river, threatening vegetation and local wells in the floodplain and requiring crop irrigation in places where there was previously no need.

Tropical reservoirs are particularly prone to colonization by aquatic plants. In addition to causing other problems, mats of floating plants can lower reservoir levels. Losses of water from evaporation and transpiration in weed-covered reservoirs can be up to six times higher than those from evaporation in open waters.

Because they greatly increase the surface area of water exposed to the sun, dams can increase evaporation. About 170 cubic kilometres of water evaporates from the world's reservoirs every year, more than 7% of the total amount of freshwater consumed by all human activities. The annual average of 11.2 cubic kilometres of water evaporated from Nasser Reservoir behind the High Aswan Dam is around 10% its storage, and is roughly equal to the total withdrawals of water for residential and commercial use throughout Africa. The proposed Epupa Dam reservoir would have evaporated more water than the nation's capital city uses in a year.

Rising salinity (which ruins the land for farming) is another risk made worse by evaporation from reservoirs and changes to flows downstream. High salt concentrations are poisonous to aquatic organisms and corrode pipes and machinery.

Dams change the timing, amount and chemical composition of a river's flow, leading to dramatic changes to groundwater-storing floodplains and wetlands. Such changes can lead to the destruction of forests, which among other things help regulate local climate. Kenya's Tana River floodplain forest appears to be dying out as it loses its ability to regenerate because of the reduction in high floods caused by a series of dams upstream. The Lower Zambezi has lost much of its rich floodplain and wetlands due to upstream dams, with wide-ranging and costly effects throughout the ecosystem.


Hope that helps as a start, but perhaps an expert in the field will be able to chime in as well. 

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