Monday, December 31, 2007

Rising groundwater threatens monuments

MCOT English News

The fact that variations on this story keeps rearing its head is a sad reflection on the threat to many monuments in Egypt. As well as highlighting the problem at Giza, this piece suggests that solutions have been proposed, but were rejected by the SCA who want more immediate fixes.

Groundwater in Cairo's Giza Plateau is coming closer to the foundations, columns and walls of antiquities, threatening structural damage, according to scientists and engineers here.

In some areas, flooding has already begun, with an Egyptologist pointing out serious damage to archaeological excavation works.

Egyptian hydrologists and technical engineers are warning of the dangers posed by the rising water table caused by farming, urbanization and residential housing near temples.

Reda Mohamed el-Damak, director of the Center of Studies and Designs for Water Projects at Cairo University's Faculty of Engineering, told Kyodo News that groundwater poses a threat to the Sphinx, carved from the bedrock of the Giza Plateau, on the outskirts of Cairo, some 13 kilometers southwest of the Cairo city center.

He pointed out the latest measurement readings from the site show that groundwater is only ''4 meters deep under the Sphinx.

'' ''It is not pure water, but rather sewage containing toxic waste and chemicals,'' causing structural damage to the temples, Damak said.

Damak is now spearheading a team of the faculty's scientists to try to save antiquities on the Giza Plateau from groundwater, which hydrologists say comes from the nearby el-Mansuriya Canal, a secondary drainage channel located some 500 meters away from the Sphinx area.

Hafez Abdel Azim Ahmed, director of the faculty's Archaeological and Environmental Engineering Center, told Kyodo News in an interview that the residents of Nazlet el-Samman village at the foot of the pyramids throw garbage into el-Mansuriya Canal, ''clogging up the drain and causing the water table to rise and spill over the Sphinx area.

'' ''This water also originates in the nearby green area, which is continuously irrigated without a drainage system,'' he said.

Damak said he proposed to Zahi Hawas, secretary general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, two projects -- a short-term project and a permanent one -- to save the monuments from groundwater.

''We offered an optimal and permanent solution to Zahi Hawas.

We proposed to build a 30-meter deep diaphragm wall in order to isolate this depression and drain off the water into smaller wells to reduce the level of water table.

However, he rejected the project, because he wanted quick solutions,'' Damak told Kyodo News.

See the above page for the full story.

No comments: