Opponents claim that silt-free water flowing below the dam has eroded the downstream barrages and bridge foundations; that the loss of sediment downstream has caused coastal erosion in the delta; and that the overall reduction in Nile flow induced by the project's construction has caused the delta to erode. However, proponents note that much of the damage alleged to have been done by silting was already present before the construction of the Aswan Dam.
The original proposal for the Aswan Dam included a plan to divert some of the Nile River into what would have been the world's largest man-made lake, but development restrictions placed on the country by its international lenders made this option unviable. The government has also pledged to protect the environment by creating a national park in the area of inundation and by helping to restore the delta region.
The diversion would have taken place about 25 miles (40 km) upstream from Khartoum, the capital city of Sudan. However, political turmoil following an Islamist uprising against the government of President Omar al-Bashir in 2011 led to the cancellation of this plan. Instead, the existing reservoir behind the dam is being expanded to store more water during the dry season while still allowing some of it to flow through during the wet season.
In addition to serving as a source of irrigation and power for Egypt and Sudan, the Aswan Dam also has important security implications for both countries.
The Nile River is under attack from two directions: a large dam being built upstream in Ethiopia and increasing sea levels, which are causing saltwater intrusion downstream. These two concerns have now jeopardized the survival of a river that is vital to millions of people. The effects of reducing or stopping the flow of the Nile would be devastating for Egypt and Sudan.
The Aswan High Dam was completed in 1971, but due to political turmoil in Egypt at the time it wasn't officially opened until later that year. Israel then invaded southern Syria, claiming that Iran was trying to build a nuclear weapon facility at Qum (which Iran has denied). In order to settle their differences, Egypt and Israel signed a treaty in 1959 granting Israel access to the waters of the Nile for agriculture. However, since the invasion, Israel has refused to sign any further treaties with Egypt.
In addition to this conflict, the Saltwater Aquifer, which provides water for much of Egypt, is being depleted at an alarming rate. Sea levels are rising because of climate change, and as these waters enter the Nile they can no longer be used for irrigation because they contain too much salt. This means that less water is available for Egypt's population and its agricultural industry when there is a drought like there was in 2010-11.
There are also plans to build another high dam on the Blue Nile, a tributary of the Nile.
Instead of expanding due to soil deposits, the delta is currently contracting due to erosion along the Mediterranean Sea. Furthermore, yearly flooding along areas of the Nile is no longer a regular occurrence. These floods were required to clear the river of human and agricultural waste. Without these floods, toxic chemicals from urban centers would have been washed into the Mediterranean Sea.
In addition to harming the environment, erosion can have serious consequences for humans who live in or visit the affected area. Flooding caused by eroding banks or saturated ground can lead to death or injury through drowning. Landslides can block roads causing delays or travel headaches for commuters. Damage to agriculture results in lost revenue when farmers cannot grow crops because suitable land is no longer available for use.
Erosion is the physical process by which particles are removed from surfaces. Eroding materials include water, wind, ice, and sand. Erosion affects all forms of land including beaches, deserts, glaciers, hills, islands, marshes, mud flats, mountains, prairies, savannas, slivers, snow, and wetlands. The types of erosion that occur on different kinds of land will be discussed below.
Beaches are areas of dry or wet sand separated from other lands. Beaches may be flat or hilly. They can be made up of quartz, limestone, or clay.
It's now taking place in the Nile River delta, a low-lying region stretching out from Cairo for around a hundred kilometres to the sea. Here, thousands of homes have been destroyed by flooding, and hundreds of businesses have closed down.
The construction of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) has caused an international controversy between Egypt and Ethiopia. When it is completed in 2016, it will be the largest hydropower plant in Africa. However, because of its location on Ethiopian land, Egypt claims that this project violates an agreement made with it before then President Sadat signed a treaty with Israel. In addition, Egypt has halted all relations with Ethiopia, including stopping the exchange of information about flood warnings.
Meanwhile, increased salination of water sources is becoming a problem for many countries where there are no effective measures to prevent it. In Bangladesh, for example, up to 50% of the country is already covered by water, and if this continues it could lead to major problems for agriculture and industry. The increase in seawater intake into the Gulf of Mexico due to climate change has had a serious impact on fishing communities who depend on ocean waters for their livelihoods.
These are just some of the many challenges facing the Nile River.