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ARS Home » Plains Area » Bushland, Texas » Conservation and Production Research Laboratory » Soil and Water Management Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #251708

Title: Opportunities for woody crop production using treated wastewater in Egypt, I. Afforestation strategies.

item ZALESNY, RONALD - Us Forest Service (FS)
item Evett, Steven - Steve
item KANDIL, NABIL - Agricultural Research Center Of Egypt
item SORIANA, CHRIS - Us Forest Service (FS)
item STANTURF, JOHN - Us Forest Service (FS)

Submitted to: International Journal of Phytoremediation
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 1/10/2012
Publication Date: 8/3/2011
Citation: Zalesny, R.S., Evett, S.R., Kandil, N.F., Soriana, C., Stanturf, J.A. 2011. Opportunities for woody crop production using treated wastewater in Egypt, I. Afforestation strategies. International Journal of Phytoremediation. 13(S1):102-121.

Interpretive Summary: As part of the Middle East peace process, the United States has worked closely with Egypt to improve agricultural production for food self-sufficiency and to increase crop water productivity. A USDA team composed of Forest Service personnel and an irrigation scientist with the ARS Soil and Water Management Research Unit, Bushland, Texas, worked with the Ministry of Agriculture personnel to evaluate the potential for tree plantations using treated waste waters. The team developed guidelines for tree species selection and irrigation system design to control deep percolation losses. Successful tree plantations in Egypt will make use of a water source, primary treated waste water, that cannot be used for food production, while providing wood products for a region that imports nearly all wood requirements. Also, tree plantation irrigation with well planned and controlled irrigation will clean up treated waste water by using the nitrogen and phosphorus in the water for tree growth, while protecting underlying aquifers. Since treated waste waters currently are either dumped in the desert, pumped to the Red Sea, or allowed to flow into the Nile River, tree plantations offer a profitable means of using a 6.5 million acre foot per year water resource that otherwise can cause contamination of fresh water supplies.

Technical Abstract: The Nile River provides nearly 97% of Egypt's freshwater supply. Egypt's share of Nile waters is allocated according to international treaty obligations and is fixed at 55.5 billion cubic meters annually. As a result, Egypt will not be able to meet increasing water demand using freshwater from the Nile and has been developing wastewater reuse strategies to meet future demands. The volume of available wastewater is expected to increase from 8 billion cubic meters in 2000 to 14 billion cubic meters in 2017. Since 2004, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Mission in Cairo has promoted strategies for water reuse through its Integrated Water Resources Management Project with Egypt's Ministry of Water Resources and Irrigation. Guidelines for reuse of treated wastewater for agricultural purposes were approved in 2005. These represent the legal foundation for farmers to begin cultivating with irrigated wastewater. The Ministry of Agriculture and Land Reclamation has established 28 man-made forests throughout the country, some of which have been useful for assessing the efficacy of using treated wastewater for afforestation. Currently, a joint USDA Forest Service – Agricultural Research Service technical assistance team has been evaluating the feasibility of scaling up such afforestation efforts throughout Egypt. There are 67,200 hectares available for these production systems. In this paper, we describe information about: 1) suitable tree species that have been identified based on local soil characteristics, water quality, and quantity of water supply; 2) the benefits and consequences of using these species; 3) recommendations for irrigation based on species and local conditions; 4) strategies to maximize the potential of afforestation with regard to improving water quality, maximizing resource production, increasing biodiversity, and limiting commercial inputs; and 5) potential long-term impacts on the natural resource base from afforestation and strategies to mitigate these impacts.