Record Nile flood waters to be stored for ‘lean years’: ministry

Egypt's Water Resources and Irrigation Ministry is on high alert ahead of the annual flooding of the River Nile, which this year promises to be unusually heavy, but officials say the additional water can be stored for use during "lean years".

The Blue Nile in Sudan is already in full flood, with flood waters and heavy rain having killed over 70 people and destroyed thousands of homes. The water levels are the highest in more than a century, fed by torrential rain in East Africa.

The high waters are expected to reach Egypt in the next two weeks, but sources at the ministry have told Al-Masry Al-Youm that the additional water volume will be stored at Lake Nasser to act as a strategic reserve to counter the expected water shortage due to Ethiopia's Renaissance Dam.

Filling the Ethiopian dam's reservoir will take years, said the sources, and these would be "lean years" for Egypt, since they would cut the amount of water flowing down the Nile into Egypt.

Khaled Abu Zaid, who is program director for regional water resources at CEDARE (Center for Environment and Development for the Arab Region and Europe), told Al-Masry Al-Youm that this year's big flood will provide a boost to Egypt's water reserves.

According to Zaid, the water level at Lake Nasser has fallen too far, and it is mostly filled from the Blue Nile, rather than from rain in Sudan.

Sudan's Ministry of Water Resources and Irrigation announced on Sunday that the current water level on the Nile is greater than the peak years of 1946 and 1988, which saw the greatest floods in Sudan's modern history.

The ministry gave warnings of dangers along the river banks, adding that the water level is now 88 percent higher than the level this time last year. Officials told Reuters that more than 70 people had been killed, with 13 of the nation's 18 provinces affected.

Floods swept through large parts of South Darfur state in Sudan earlier this week, killing 17 people and injuring six others, local media reports said. The Sudan Tribune reported that 1,515 houses have been completely destroyed, while 2911 were partially destroyed by the floods in south and north Nyala, Al-Salam and Kateela.

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