Agricultural drainage polluting Lake Qaroun

The condition of Lake Qaroun has deteriorated rapidly, since inlets and outlets are sealed off and drainage from approximately 482 million square meters of surrounding agricultural land filters into the lake, said Wafaa Amer, chairman of the environmental conservation division of the Ministry of the Environment. The drainage then evaporates and settles on the bottom of the lake as salts and nitrates.

Amer delivered her statement yesterday during a meeting of the agricultural committee within the People’s Assembly in response to an information request filed by Hasan Abdel Ghufar. She asked for an inquiry into the declining fish levels in Lake Qaroun and for an investigation of threats from nearby industrial projects and wastewater.

An enormous amount of wastewater has found its way into the lake during the last year alone, said Amer, emphasizing that the pollution was due to poverty in the surrounding area and the harsh penalties imposed on farmers for committing infractions. "If I wanted to punish these people I would first give them an alternative way to make a living, instead of fining them and increasing the severity of the penalties, seeing as they have no other source of income," added Amer.

Egypt could meet the fish demand of the entire Arab world by establishing fish farms on the Mediterranean coast, she said, arguing, "We could emulate Cyprus, which uses helicopters to harvest the fish from its farms. After the fish are frozen, the helicopters could bring the fish back to other countries." She added, "It does not make sense for us to eat fish taken from waters in which we dump our sanitation and agricultural wastewater."

Kuwaiti businessman Nasir el-Kharafi has proposed seven projects to make use of the lake’s water, and two factories have been shut down for polluting the environment, Amer confirmed.

Translated from the Arabic Edition.

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