Submitted by: Authority Great Man Made River
Implemented country: Libya
Title: Man-Made River Provides Libyan Agriculture with Water
The following project was submitted for the 2003 Energy Globe Awards. The summary we are presenting is based on information we received in 2003. Energy Globe took a look at the project in 2004, but we have no information as to the current project status.
Oil was first discovered in Libya in the early 1960s, which was followed by an extensive search for further oil deposits. In the course of this search, large bodies of fresh water were discovered. In a desert nation such as Libya this is akin to finding a gold mine. In 1984, Libya initiated the Great Man-Made River Project with the objective of providing water by means of a gigantic network of pipelines to the cities of Bengasi, Sirte and Tripoli, but also in an effort to support agriculture along the coastal areas. The goal was to turn the desert into a fruitful land allowing for agricultural exports and greater self-sufficiency.
The Libyan Man-Made River project was sometimes even referred to as the Eighth Wonder of the World. The project was supposed to subterraneously channel water from Kufra and the Sareer reservoirs to the coastal regions of Bengasi, Sirte und Tripoli. The water stems from extensive subterraneous lakes that were formed by melting glaciers after the last ice-age. The lakes are located at a depth of 2,000 meters and are 20,000 to 30,000 years old. The water for the urban population centers is pumped through a huge network of pipelines that will eventually cover a distance of 3,380 kilometers. Two special pipe factories were built in Brega and the Sarir region to ensure proper pipe supply for the project. These pipe fittings weigh between 73 and 78 tons a piece at a diameter of 4 meters and a length of 7.25 meters each.
The project was implemented in several phases. In Phase 1, pipelines were laid from Tazerbon and Sarir in the south to Adjedabia in the north. In Phase 2, two million cubic meters of water were pumped from wells in the Fezzan region and an additional 500,000 cubic meters from the Hasawna Mountains. In Phase 3, another 1.68 million cubic meters were added to Phases 1 and 2. 960 wells were drilled at a depth of 450 to 650 meters and in an area of 8,000 square kilometers. Experts predict that the Libyan population, at a daily consumption rate of 6 million cubic meters, will have access to water for at least 50 years.
“For the first time in our history, there was water in the tap for washing, shaving and showering. The quality of life is better now, and it’s impacting on the whole country.”
Great Man Made River Authority