On Lake Maryut
Dr. Ahmed Barrania
ADVISER, Union of Fishermen cooperatives
Physical Features and discharges
Lake Maryut composed of five main basins separated by sand banks, with an approximate total area of 62 km2, Lake Maryut is the smallest of the Northern lakes. It is also considered to be the most polluted. Situated approximately 20 meters away from the
Mediterranean Sea, it does not have a direct discharge point out to sea to aid in its
Purification. The depth of the water in Lake Maryut ranges between 3-5 meters. Its
Perimeter is 43 km, has a maximum length of about 13 km and its present area is
About 62 km2 which is considerably smaller than its former area .Large areas of the lake have been drained and reclaimed for Agriculture, at present the lake is less than 25% of its former size. The pre-reclamation Size was estimated at 248 km2.
The Nubariyah Canal and Omum agricultural drain cut across the lake. Some of the
Lake’s basins receive discharges from the Omum drain or the Nubariyah Canal. The
Only discharge point from the lake is through the Mex pumping station, which
Regulates the water level in the lake (2.2-2.4 meters above sea level). The Omum
Drain and other agricultural drains are the major sources of water for the lake,
Delivering in excess of 12 million cubic meters of water per day polluted with
Agricultural runoff, untreated or partially treated municipal wastewater and industrial
Effluents. Furthermore, the effluents from a petroleum refinery and a number of other
Industries directly discharge their effluents into the lake. The hydrological discharges
To the lake may be divided as follows:
• Agricultural drainage water from Omum drain (60%)
• Agricultural drainage water from Nubariyah Canal (22%)
• Untreated industrial effluents and partially treated municipal sewage (13%)
Due to the fact that Alexandria Governorate has about 40 % share of all industrial
Production in Egypt, the Lake's area has serious pollution problems. The City of
Alexandria is served by sewer and rainwater network and two waste water treatments
Plants of primary treatment type. The total capacity is 1 320 000 m3/day, which is not
Sufficient to treat the total generated wastewater. Furthermore, many of the illegal
Constructions and new unplanned communities lack waste water networks. Industries
Discharge their effluents after primary treatment into the Lake Maryut or the sea
where they are mixed with domestic sewage effluents.
One of the significant pressures on the aquatic environment is due to municipal and
Industrial wastewater. Two thirds of the city waste water is released into Lake Maryut and subsequently pumped into Mex Bay, west of the Alexandria City. Together with agricultural runoff drained from the north-west part of the delta. Only half of this volume of waste water undergoes primary treatment before being dumped into Lake Maryut. As a result of the large amount of discharges, including effluents from several industries, an anaerobic condition with odours prevails in Lake Maryut.
Fisheries Quantity and Quality:
In Lake Maryut the fish catch has declined significantly in 30 years, from
Approximately 11 000 tones in 1976 to 5211 tones in 2006. It has also been suggested by some sources that the quality of fish in the Lake is affected due to accumulated pollution in the Lake.
Significant economic loss, when taking into account that average price of fish in the Lake's Area amounts to 15 LE/kg. This would give a loss of economic value of the fish catch as (11000-5211)*15 LE = 86.835 LE million.
Considering the geographical position and the habitat types, Lake Maryut is most
likely of some importance for water birds, especially herons, ducks, waders, gulls and
Terns The importance of Lake Maryut for birds has diminished greatly over the last two or three decades, due to habitat loss, ecological changes and increased disturbance and hunting pressure.
Size at an average of 4.6 people In addition there is a further10, 000 workers working in fishing-related jobs such as ship-building and fish trading. If their families are also included, this would give a total of approximately 78,200 people who depend on the fishing industry of Lake Maryut. However, the number of fishermen operating in the Lake had been decreased in 2006. About 1000 persons had left fishing operations without any other work opportunities. It is noted that "Saving the Northern Delta lakes is a critical investment in the country’s future.
Activities of the Union to conserve the Lake
The activities of the Union are aimed to promote sounder and more sustainable development of integrated management of Lake Maryut Zone, and the adoption of a sound participatory integrated development action plan for this zone encompassing environment protection, economic development and the needs and interests of all stakeholders.
The main activities include the participatory development of an integrated action plan for the Lake zone involving all stakeholders; the design and institutionalization of Lake Maryut Management and Monitoring units at Alexandria Governorate and the regional bureau of Egyptian Environmental Affairs Authority( EEAA) and developing the necessary methodological, technical and financial instruments for implementation; and capacity building activities and public awareness programmes for local and provincial authorities and stakeholders.
The Union in cooperation with General authority of Fish Resources Development and other related local and national organizations spend serious efforts to prevent wastewater from being discharged to Lake Maryut, improving therefore its water quality and enhancing sustainable development around the lake. However, it seems that the problem is too complicated.