CAIRO,--Egypt will need to find a extra 20
billion cubic metres of water a year by 2017 to meet burgeoning demand from its
growing population, a minister said on Tuesday.
Egypt would require 86.74 cubic metres of
water a year by 2017, roughly 30 percent more than the 66.34 billion cubic
metres it used in 1997, Public Works and Water Resources Minister Mahmoud Abu
Zaid told a symposium at Cairo University.
"Water resources currently available in
Egypt are limited compared to the population and its growth rate," Zaid
Egypt takes 55.5 billion cubic metres a year
from the Nile river, its main water source.
Since 1997 Egypt has embarked on ambitious
irrigation schemes in Toshka and East Oweinat in the south and Sinai in the
northeast to feed its estimated 64 million people, a population growing at about
2.1 percent a year.
Zaid said agriculture was the major water
consumer, using about 52.13 billion cubic metres in 1997.
The ministry has plans to expand water
resources to 87.67 billion cubic metres a year by 2017, by drawing 11.27 billion
cubic metres from underground water reservoirs and re-using 8.4 billion cubic
metres of agricultural sewage water, he said.
Other improvements envisaged include better
crop rotation, irrigation and sewage water processing, Zaid added.