Restoring Lake Qarun to its glory
Egypt’s third largest lake was once a vibrant freshwater source and one of the most important tourist attractions in the country.
Since then, years of pollution have taken their toll on Lake Qarun, resulting in increased salinity and diminishing fishing industry.
Now a multi-million euro collaboration bridging Canada, Europe and North Africa is setting out to reduce that pollution and return Lake Qarun to its glory.
The Fayoum Wastewater Expansion program, worth €456.5 million, is moving forward to help increase access to wastewater treatment by over 50 per cent in rural Egypt.
The Egyptian Holding Company for Water and Wastewater (HCWW) selected the winning consortium that will be led by Canadian engineering company, Stantec.
It is part of a wider set of measures by the Egyptian government to address the challenges the country faces in sanitation coverage, with an ambition to expand water reuse.
Addressing rural low sanitation service coverage
Located 90 kilometres southwest of Cairo, the governorate of Fayoum is in a rural, developing region.
In lesser populated areas of the region, coverage of sanitation services is low, and more than half of the communities are not connected to a centralised wastewater network.
As a result, raw sewage is often discharged directly to the agricultural drains and Lake Qarun, causing significant environmental, economic, and social harm.
The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), which is funding the project, said it could help to "positive affect community health and key related economic opportunities in Fayoum, including fishing, fish-farming and tourism-related activities".
Project details & two-stage development
Co-financing will also be provided by the European Investment Bank (EIB), the European Union’s Neighbourhood Investment Facility, and the Egyptian government.
Support will also be provided to the Fayoum Company for Water and Wastewater (FWWC).
The first phase of the program will expand sewer services in 119 underserved rural areas in Fayoum.
This phase includes constructing four new WWTPs, expanding seven, rehabilitating 10, and decommissioning six existing WWTPs.
It will also include constructing approximately 256 kilometres (159 miles) of new pressurised rising mains, 2,334 kilometres (1,450 miles) of sewer lines, and 100 new sewage pumping stations.
These measures will increase access to sanitation to 75.6 per cent and benefit 700,000 people.
The second phase will help an additional 41 underserved villages, with the potential to improve the lives of 240,000 more people – bringing total sanitation access to 86 per cent of the region's population.
Dr Murat Sarioglu, operations director and project director at Stantec, said the “Egyptian government and the development institutions have prioritised access to clean water”.