The Nile River in Egypt is not only globally recognized, but is also very significant to the lives of the Egyptians. Nonetheless, the river has been under pollution from by agricultural, municipal and industrial causes. Therefore, the Nile River can be protected from pollution through implementation of environmental laws, wastewater treatment, recycling, enforcement of international and regional laws and sensitizing fishermen and other citizens. Industrial facilities should not be made along the river. The government should prevent sewage discharge from getting into the river through outlets. This paper elaborates on the pollutants and how to control the Nile from pollution.
Egypt’s Nile River is on record as the world’s largest river; it spans within a total length of 6,625 km and possesses a width of 7.8 km. The river discharges to the Mediterranean Sea, which is 1,350 km from the Aswan High Dam, whose annual discharge of water is approximately 90km3.The catchment area of the river is said to host over 75 million people. This has played a major role in recognizing the importance of river Nile as one of the world’s largest rivers and the environmental assessment that comes with it. Human pressures on the Nile River have resulted to its deterioration hence shifting the focus on systematic environmental assessment (Fishar & Williams Para. 3).
River Nile is perceived as the substitute of the rain that rarely falls in Egypt. The source of the river originates from the Abyssinia’s mountains and arrives in Egypt after a precipitation of seven cataracts. The secret to the overflowing waters of the Nile is linked to the five months in a year of rain experienced in Ethiopia. The overflowing waters carry with them precious sand that is rich in nutrients, thus making the lands in Egypt fertile.
Causes of pollution in River Nile
The pollution of the Nile River is caused by various sources of pollution. These sources include heavy metals, municipal sewerage, oil spills, wastewater from industries, and agricultural wastewater.
Presence of Heavy Metals
These heavy metals have their origins from agricultural and municipal wastewater. Heavy metals have a major significance in ecological effects affecting the Nile River, as they are identified by their accumulative behavior and toxicity. Some of these metals include Copper, lead and Cadmium. The main compartment used for storage of these metals in aquatic surroundings is the sediments.
The concentration of metals in sediments is reliable in attaining the levels of contamination but not the levels of toxicity in aquatic life (Miller Para 2). Ecotoxicological effects of contaminated sediment will mainly be determined by the metal’s presence and the living organism’s ability to assimilate metals. According to a research study conducted, there were presence of Copper, lead and Cadmium in the waters of River Nile (Gawad Para 3).
In September 11 2010, there was a diesel oil spill on the waters of River Nile. The captain of the barge purportedly indicated that the drop in water levels was the main cause of the oil spill, as the vessel could have tilted on one side, thus spilling the oil. Similar tragedies have extensive and devastating effects that include shutting of the water purification industries that could result to contamination of drinking water and deaths of aquatic life (Index to 2010 Issues of Oil Spill Intelligence Report Para 3).
According to Dumont, Nile River is used for different purposes that include transportation of oil and oil products thus creating sources of oil pollution. Apart from this, a lot of factories and oil distributing centers have been established along the Nile River (Dumont 398).
Industrial waste has been identified as one of the major contributor of pollutants to the River Nile. Egypt, being the most industrialized country that uses the Nile River, is faced with a decrease in its ground and surface water which is caused by discharge of industrial and domestic effluents that are polluted. In fact, big industries located in Cairo and Alexandria are major contributors of Nile pollution although small upcoming industries in Upper Egypt have also started contributing towards pollution. Generally, chemical industries have been attributed to 60% of heavy metal pollution into the Nile River (Dumont 396).
The high levels of population increase and urbanization along River Nile are some of the causes of Municipal wastewater pollution of the river. Egypt is one of the major contributors of municipal discharge, and this calls for the government to establish more treatment plants to deal with the municipal effluent. Not only do these effluent contain parasites and pathogens, but also toxic heavy metals. On discharge to the Nile River without treatment, this effluent may have severe consequences, as the Nile River is used for irrigation purposes (Dumont 400).
Protecting the Nile River from pollution
Protection of the waters of River Nile has become a major priority in Egypt (Vasagar 1). This is due to the numerous negative consequences that result from water pollution. They range from destruction of crops to lack of drinking water among others.
Enhancement of environmental laws
In Egypt, laws that concern protection of River Nile should be enforced in order to reduce pollution. Various government departments vested with the powers of administering these legislations should be relocated closer to the river itself as opposed to Cairo where the departments seemed to be lax in their mandate. Indeed, the comprehensive law of 1993 should be implemented to the latter (Kirkwood and Longley 112).
On-site Treatment of Wastewater (Recycling)
On-site treatment is determined by a number of factors that include the type of pollutants and the quality of wastewater. This kind of treatment goes hand in hand with the CP application of recycling the water. In recycling, water is reused thus bringing down costs that could have been incurred in attaining, treating, and later on disposing the water. The systems involved in recycling consolidate the contaminants for the sole reason of preventing them from accessing the ground water and soil. In addition to this, recycling will result to accumulation of savings (Yanful 144 & 145).
This is a process whereby, wastewater is treated before it is discharged to the river. This is a process that has been adapted by some of the industries but either way, the Egyptian government should be keen and strict in ensuring that all the industries discharging their effluent to the river have undertaken the wastewater treatment process. The wastewater treatment process involves removal of solid wastes, while any traces of grease or oil are then removed before the separation of sand and water is finally undertaken (Yanful 147).
International and Regional Laws
Emphasis should be placed on international and regional laws that deal with the environmental issues. According to Joyner, these laws regulate activities that result to pollution of the environment. Under the 1982 UN Convention law, countries are obliged to protect their territorial waters as well as offshore jurisdiction waters. Acting contrary to these laws may result to legal action at international levels. All parties using the Niles’ water ought to come to an agreement with other parties using it so as to help avert the river’s pollution (Owino 2004).
On the other hand, regional agreements are said to be the pioneer of international laws. For instance, regional treaties signed between countries from the same region help to keep the parties involved in check (Joyner 214). There can be a proper way of utilizing the Nile waters and perhaps protecting it from pollution if the status quo held by Egypt and the Up-river states are broken (Miller Para. 18).
Sensitizing Citizens on Pollution
The people perpetrating these pollution activities are Egyptians. Therefore, by sensitizing citizens on the importance of the Nile River, the Egyptian government will be tackling the polluting menace from its root source. The importance of Nile River pollution having been given the first priority, the Egyptian government produced a monthly magazine by the name of “development and environment” through the Egyptian Environment Affairs Agency (Jabbra, Dwivedi, IASIA & International Association of Schools and Institutes of Administration 133).
River Nile has been identified as the major source of drinking water in Egypt. Apart from this, Nile River has been facing major pollutant issues over the past years. The effluents causing pollution have been attributed to agricultural, industrial, and municipal industries that are located along the river. Problems pertaining to manganese and iron pollution are also on the rise as chemical industries are associated with this menace. The increasing demand of drinking water has not made it easier in tackling the Nile pollution issue; it has made it even more difficult.
Various methods of dealing with the Nile pollution menace have been introduced by the Egyptian government. Government departments dealing with the River Nile have been constituted in Egypt although they have had their fair share of not resolving the pollution problem. Apart from this, other pollution control methods should be emphasized which include recycling of the industrial water, water treatment processes, and strict enforcing of the already existing environmental laws. In addition, sensitization of the citizens is of great importance, as the problem will be tackled from its roots.
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