The seven wonders of the modern world have one thing in common—size. From the Channel Tunnel to the Itaipu Dam, being the biggest has gotten them on this list. Next up for consideration on this list is a “joint venture”—the Nubian Sandstone Aquifer System (NSAS) and the Great Man-made River Project (GMRP).
Discovered by companies drilling for oil in the Sahara Desert, the NSAS consists of three large bodies of water lying underground in strata of saturated sandstone and limestone. The NSAS crosses into four countries (Egypt, Libya, Sudan and Chad) and is the world’s largest source of “fossil water.” Fossil water is groundwater that has remained sealed underground because of changes in surrounding geology over time and has had little to no natural replenishment from new precipitation. While this is a great scientific discovery, its importance is being overshadowed because of the huge need for water to nations in the Sahara Desert.
FROM DESERT TO SAVANNAH
The Nubian Sandstone Aquifer System is being tapped to bring water to regions in the Sahara primarily for irrigation purposes. In order to get water to more remote desert locales, one nation, Libya, has developed the Great Man-made River Project.
The GMRP is the world’s largest irrigation project, consisting of the largest underground network of pipes and aqueducts ever put together. Its more than 1300 wells provide 6.5 million cubic meters of water per day to Libyan cities. This water allows desert residents to more readily grow cereal crops and maintain livestock.
As great of a feat as this is, it is expected that, due to the limited amount of water, and the area’s arid climate and increased consumption causing huge evaporation losses, all the water in the Nubian Sandstone Aquifer System will eventually be gone in the near future. The means the desert nations will again need to find new ways of bringing water to their citizens.
Originally published in Headline Discoveries.