Egypt scientists say rising groundwater endangers monuments
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.
''The quick solution is not effective in the long run, because the culverts will drain off water blended with sand, which will cause damage to the structures of the Valley Temple and the Sphinx Temple,'' he said.
Technical engineer Ismail Naguib said the Sphinx is safe so far, but it would be in danger if the problem of the groundwater is not solved.
''The lack of sewage systems is the main cause of groundwater.
If we don't solve this problem it will pose a threat to the Sphinx, because groundwater coming from sewage contains poisonous chemicals,'' he said.
''If we don't do something about it the Sphinx will be in danger,'' he maintained.
Hawas, however, has downplayed the impact of groundwater on the Sphinx and the monuments surrounding, but said the understanding and support of other countries are required.
Hawas said he would seek advice from a Swedish consultancy to look at the feasibility of the university's permanent solution to save the Giza antiquities from groundwater.
An Egyptologist who spoke on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to give any information, told Kyodo News that water has already flooded part of an area often called the cemetery of pyramid-builders that Hawas discovered in 1989-1990, where archaeological excavation works are still under way. ''The flood has destroyed the sun-dried bricks that were part of the buildings.
The flood is endangering the excavations and the antiquities there,'' he said.
Fuente: MCot English News