Aswan Dam

The Aswan High Dam ( also known as the Aswan High Dam ), called Sadd el- Ali (Arabic السد العالي, " High Dam " ), ( Upper Egypt ) is located in southern Egypt about 13 kilometers south or upstream of the city of Aswan and accumulates the Nile to the huge Lake Nasser, which extends into the Sudan, where it is called Nubia Lake. The reservoir has a capacity of 135-169 cubic kilometers of water.

Old dam

About seven kilometers southwest of Aswan is the ancient dam. It was built Co. 1899-1902 after a design by William Willcocks and according to the plans of Benjamin Baker and William Edmund Garstin by the company John Aird &. The aim was to regulate the waters of the Nile, especially during the annual flood. On December 10, 1902, the old dam was put into operation.

The structure consists of granite blocks, is at the sole 35 meters, 12 meters wide at the crown and about 2100 meters long. In the years 1907-1912 and 1929-1933, the dam was increased to 54 meters. Due to 180 passages, the water level could be regulated and also the for the Egyptian agriculture important, very fertile Nile mud could pass the barrier.

The new dam

Planning and construction

Adrian Daninos developed in 1947 the idea for a project of a single large dam above Aswan and put this in the following year the Egyptian government under King Faruq ago. However, this initially showed no interest in realization. Only after the fall Faruq's in 1952 found the proposals compliance.

Seven kilometers south of the old wall began on January 9, 1960, with Soviet aid and the revenue from the Suez Canal, construction of the new dam. The official opening of today's Aswan Dam was carried out on 15 January 1971. Initially, Western companies were involved in the preparation of the plans, including Hochtief in food and Rhine Steel Union Bridge AG.

After the United States and the World Bank had withdrawn its commitment to co-finance the dam construction, because the Egyptian government in 1956, People's Republic of China officially recognized, it regarded the Soviet Union, which tried to influence on the African continent, as well as the Egyptian government under the then State President Gamal Abdel Nasser as a prestige project.

Therefore, built 2000 Soviet engineers and 30,000 workers on the project, which cost the equivalent of about 2.2 billion euros. The shut-off consists of a huge Scot Rauf bed with a Lehmdichtungskern and concrete casing. The dam is more than 3800 meters long and 111 meters high, 980 meters to the sole and the crown about 40 meters wide. Some 100,000 people, mostly Nubians had to be relocated for the project. The filling of the reservoir began in 1964, so even during construction, and was not completed until 1976. 451 people lost their lives during construction.

At the western end of the dam extends a concrete monument in the form of a lotus flower with a centrally disposed gear into the air - as a sign the Egyptian- Soviet friendship. An observation deck is located here in 74 meters height.


The construction of the High Dam had several reasons. Both agriculture and the development of a strong economy industry should be promoted by the dam. The dam should be equal to serve several purposes:

  • Expansion of agricultural land to 535,000 hectares by irrigation.
  • Shift from traditional ( season wise ) irrigation on permanent irrigation an area of ​​approximately 3,100,000 hectares.
  • Expansion of rice cultivation for export.
  • Control of the effluent water quantity to ensure the water supply in dry periods and to protect the Nile valley during heavy flooding.
  • Improvement of the navigability of the Nile.
  • Power generation
  • Protection of drinking water supply
  • Development of new industries


The reservoir is on the content of the third largest in the world by area and the seventh largest ( in each case without consideration of Lake Victoria ). Since the square footage of 5248 over 5500 and 5860-6000 km ² vary, it could also be the third largest dam. See List of largest reservoirs of the earth.

Hydroelectric power station

The hydropower plant has twelve Francis turbines with a maximum capacity of 175 megawatts, together 2100 megawatts. The electricity generated is fed to Cairo.


Since the pent-up waters of the Nile important cultural monuments of ancient Egypt threatened, some have been implemented with the help of Unesco to higher altitudes. Became famous for the implementation of the temples of Abu Simbel and Philae. Many other cultural drowned in the floods.

Due to the lack of nutrients in the water the fish stock from Aswan has also fallen dramatically, and even in the Mediterranean, the effects are felt: Especially in the eastern Mediterranean fish catches declined after the construction of the dam by almost half, however, seem to slowly recover.

The retained Nile mud downstream lacks not only agriculture, but has become a problem for the reservoir itself. Due to the increasing siltation of the lake less and less water can be saved. It is estimated that the lake is completely silted in about 500 years and thus be useless for water storage.

Downstream and especially in the Nile Delta also provides erosion a major problem by the lack of Nile mud, which was otherwise transported there from the river, farmland washed away and damaged embankments. Also the fish stocks in the brackish water of the Nile Delta, where currently a large part of the Egyptian fish caught may be damaged by the salty sea water. In addition, there is a significant erosion along the coasts of the eastern Mediterranean, as the flushed into the sea from the Nile sand missing.

Due to the resettlement of the Nubian mainly farmers much has been lost by the Nubian culture.

Also by an increasing risk of schistosomiasis is reported. This disease is transmitted by a Wasserschneckenart that could proliferate in Lake Nasser and in the irrigation ditches downstream, the sooner dried up at least once a year. It is an attempt to combat the worm with pesticides.