Nasser, Lake

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a reservoir of the nile located in southern egypt and northern sudan, created by the aswan high dam after 1971.

Lake Nasser, created by the construction of the High Dam at Aswan, is 298 miles long and 10 miles wide at its widest point, with a water capacity of 130 million acre-feet, of which 24 million acre-feet serve as dead storage for sediment and 73 million acre-feet as live storage. About one-quarter of all the Nile waters entering Lake Nasser are lost to evaporation and seepage. The largest man-made lake in the world, Lake Nasser has a major role in Egypt's fishing industry, yielding 15,000 to 25,000 tons per annum. Original hopes that Lake Nasser would also support agriculture in its vicinity, however, have yet to be realized.

In 1978 the Ministry of Irrigation authorized construction of the Tushka canal to carry away surplus water from Lake Nasser to the New Valley Project in the western desert in case a high flood upstream caused Lake Nasser's waters to pass over the spillway, leading to damage to barrages and bridge abutments downstream. This emergency canal was used for the first time in the late 1990s, at a time of unusually high Nile flows. At the beginning of the twenty-first century, the Tushka diversion was a source of international controversy in that the Egyptian government announced plans for routine diversions of lake water into the western desert to reclaim land. This came at a time when the ten riparian states of the Nile Basin were attempting to reach an accord on future uses of the limited waters of the river.

The lake is named for Egypt's president who held office at the time of the building of the dam, Gamal Abdel Nasser. The rising lake displaced over 100,000 Nubian inhabitants, and flooded sites of ancient Egyptian buildings such as Abu Simbel. Creation of the lake in the early 1970s led to an international rescue effort to save dynastic-era antiquities of the valley behind the dam.

see also aswan high dam; nile river.


Said, R. The River Nile: Geology, Hydrology, and Utilization. Oxford, U.K.: Pergamon, 1993.

Waterbury, John. Hydropolitics of the Nile Valley. Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 1979.

White, Gilbert F. "Environmental Effects of the High Dam at Aswan." Environment 30, no. 7 (1988): 3441.

arthur goldschmidt
updated by gregory b. baecher

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Lake Nasser

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Lake Nasser