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Researchers Examine the Age of Egypt’s Groundwater Adapted from Information by the University of Delaware Egypt’s Nile River is known as the longest river in the world. Fed by rainfall from the mountainous areas in the Ethiopian highlands, the river has been used for centuries as a source of water for the area’s inhabitants. However, once you leave the Nile River Valley, water is scarce and groundwater becomes the only freshwater source available. Knowing how much water is in the aquifer and how long it takes to recharge is vital to the Egyptian authorities. They are interested in learning the best way to keep up with the increased demand from population growth, irrigation, and agricultural needs, especially since the country’s population is expected to double by 2050. Scientists with the University of Delaware (UD) are working on a project to examine the recharge rate of Egypt’s aquifers in addition to learning more about the origin and age of the groundwater. The project, led by doctoral candidate Mahmoud Sherif and Neil Sturchio from UD, along with Mohamed Sultan from Western Michigan University, included collecting 29 samples from different wells throughout the country. Using the radioactive isotope chlorine-36, they were able to calculate the estimated age of the water. Sturchio, who is also professor and chair of the Department of Geological Sciences in UD’s College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment, said although Egypt’s Eastern Desert is dry and arid, it gets more rain than the Western Desert. Researchers were interested to learn if the groundwater in the Eastern Desert is younger than water in the Western Desert, and they were amazed by what they discovered. “In the shallow aquifers you would expect young water, perhaps 50-100 years old, because it’s coming down as rain and flowing out towards the Nile Valley,” said Sturchio. “But in some of these aquifers, Mahmoud found water that’s ap- parently 200,000 years old.” The water probably isn’t actually 200,000 years old, but the fact it appears that way indicates older water from the Nubian Aquifer is able to travel along faults in the rocks where it mixes in with the younger shallow water, carrying some of the older chlorine isotopes with it. “When we quantify the amount of water in the shallow aquifer, we have to consider the water coming up from the deeper aquifer,” said Sherif. “It’s an additional source and instead of drilling very deep wells, which is very expensive, the [Egyptian government] won’t have to. They can reduce the cost.” Sturchio mentioned even though Egypt is lucky to get so much water from the Nile, there is only so much that can be taken out. “The young groundwater that comes down as rain and takes about 50 to 100 years to flow to the Nile, is being used for irrigation in some places. But some of the water they’re pumping out comes from the much older groundwater in [the] aquifer underneath,” he stated. “You really want to know howmuch of that water you can pump out before you’re over-pumping it and using it up too fast. You don’t want to pump it out faster than it can replenish itself, ideally. Knowing the groundwater age is part of the basis for developing a good strategy for using it.” Editor’s Note: In between our print issues, the WWDR Team prepares an electronic newsletter called E-News Flash . Based on readership, this was the most popular E-News Flash article of the month. Get in on the action and subscribe today at: WTR Gathering groundwater samples from an aquifer in Egypt. Photo by Mahmoud Sherif courtesy of the University of Delaware. New England Water Well Association c/o Markets Beyond Group 7 Bailey Lane, Brewster NY 10509 Phone: 845-278-1892 Fax: 845-278-1899 Pre-Registration $ 20 per person Spouse &Children under 16 years FREE Onsite Registration $ 25 Registrant (s) Names: Contact: Address: State/Zip Code: Phone & Fax : E-mail: Pre-Registration Deadline - March 1, 2020 Pre-Registration NEWWA New England Water Well Expo March 13 - 14, 2020 Best Western Royal Plaza Trade Center Marlborough, Massachusetts Credit Card Type __________ Credit Card Number ________________________ Expiration Date ________________CCV (security code)_______ Complete this form and fax or mail it along with your payment ASAP to NEWWA. Register online at wassociation Swap Meet Bring whatever fits in a pickup truck. $50 preregistration or $75 at door . 38 JANUARY 2020 WorldWide Drilling Resource ® Gas and Oil will be the editorial focus for the March issue. Submit your article ideas to: bonnie@