|Libyan Arab Jamahiriya|
|In the 1950s, oil exploration in Libyan Arab Jamahiriya turned up another resource beneath the scorching sands: the Nubian Sandstone Aquifer System. Radiocarbon analysis showed that some of the water in the aquifer system was 40 000 years old. Tapping the aquifers was chosen as the most cost-effective option for meeting the country's water needs.|
In 1993, Phase I of the Great Man-made River (GMMR) Project brought water from eastern well-fields at Sarir and Tazerbo to Benghazi (not shown). In 1996, Phase II brought water from well-fields at Jebel Hassouna to Tripoli (not shown). Phase III is still under construction. The project's largest reservoir, known as the Grand Omar Mukhtar, is located at Suluq (2006 image, yellow arrows).
When fully operational, the GMMR will pump 3.6 million cubic metres of the Nubian Aquifer water per day. Water from the aquifer is used to support extensive centre-pivot irrigation agriculture at Al Kufra (see 1972 and 2001 images above).
At current extraction rates the Nubian Sandstone Aquifer System is not likely to be depleted for a thousand years. Nevertheless, it is shared among four African nations: Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, Chad, Sudan, and Egypt. The concern of environmentalists is that eventually people will drain the aquifer faster than nature can renew it. The International Atomic Energy Agency is trying to bring the four countries together to plan rational shared use of the water.
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