CBC Video July 22, 2009 : Man-made river: Calgary’s Pure Technologies helps keep Libya’s water flowing
From: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Manmade_River [accessed July 29, 2009]
The Great Man-Made River (GMR, النهر الصناعي العظيم) is a network of pipes that supplies water from the Sahara Desert in Libya, from the Nubian Sandstone Aquifer System fossil aquifer. Some sources cite it as the largest engineering project ever undertaken.
The Guinness World Records 2008 book has acknowledged this as the world’s largest irrigation project.
According to its website, it is the largest underground network of pipes and aqueducts in the world. It consists of more than 1300 wells, most more than 500 m deep, and supplies 6,500,000 m³ of freshwater per day to the cities of Tripoli, Benghazi, Sirt and elsewhere. Muammar al-Gaddafi has described it as the “Eighth Wonder of the World.”
In 1953, efforts to find oil in southern Libya led to the discovery of huge quantities of fresh water underground. The GMRP was conceived in the late 1960s and work on the project began in 1984. The project’s construction was divided into five logically separate phases. The first phase required 85 million m³ of excavation and was inaugurated on August 28, 1991. The second phase (dubbed First water to Tripoli) was inaugurated on September 1, 1996.
The project is owned by the Great Man-Made River Project Authority and funded by the Libyan government. Brown & Root and Price Brothers were responsible for the original design, and the primary contractor for the first phases was Dong Ah Consortium (a South Korean construction company) and present main contractor is Al Nahr Company Ltd. This company was registered in England and Wales as a foreign company FC017848 until July 31, 2003.
The imported goods from several worldwide Countries (such as Italy, Spain, Germany, Japan etc.) destined to the construction of the GMRP arrived by sea via the entry port of Marsa el Brega (Sirte Gulf).
The total cost of the project is projected at more than US$25 billion. Libya claims to have completed the work to date without the financial support of major countries or loans from world banks. Since 1990 UNESCO has provided training to engineers and technicians involved with the project. 172 people died in the construction.
The fossil aquifer from which this water is being supplied is the Nubian Sandstone Aquifer System. It accumulated during the last ice age and is not currently being replenished. If 2007 rates of retrieval are not increased,the water could last a thousand years. According to a Nubian Aquifer Project publication, “one expert says that, at current rates of consumption, reserves could be diminished in as short a time period as 100 to 500 years”.
A large, recently-settled lawsuit between the Libyan government and Brasoil, a subsidiary of the Brazilian national oil company, arose from the project. Brasoil was contracted to drill many of the wells in the early stages of the project. Many (hundreds) of the wells in the project collapsed or failed prematurely for unexplained reasons.
- 3 October 1983: The General People’s Congress held an extraordinary session to draft the resolutions of the basic people’s Congresses, which decided to fund and execute the Great Man-Made River Project.
- 28 August 1984: Muammar al-Gaddafi lays the foundation stone in Sarir area for the commencement of the construction of the Great Man-Made River Project.
- 28 August 1986: Muammar al-Qaddafi inaugurated the Brega plant for the production of the Pre-stressed Concrete Cylinder pipes, which are considered the largest pipes made with pre-stressed steel wire (the majority of steel wire was made in Italy by the Redaelli Tecna S.p.A. company with its head office in Cologno Monzese – Milan and its factory in Caivano-Naples). Sarir plant was also inaugurated on this date.
- 26 August 1989: Muammar al-Qaddafi lays the foundation stone for phase II of the Great Man-Made River Project.
First water arrival
- 11 September 1989: to Ajdabiya reservoir.
- 28 September 1989: to Grand Omar Muktar reservoir.
- 4 September 1991: to Al Gardabiya reservoir.
- 28 August 1996: to Tripoli.
- 28 September 2007: to Gharyan.