CAIRO - 23 July 2020: Amid its dispute with Ethiopia over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (EGRD), Egypt is heading to toughen the penalties for water wastage in light of the county’s efforts to rationalize water consumption.
Prime Minister Mostafa Mabdouly directed the government to impose harsher penalties on those who waste water or steal water from public water pipes, according to a statement from the Cabinet on Thursday.
The meeting was attended by Minister of Water Resources and Irrigation Mohamed Abdel-Atti, Minister of Housing Utilities and Urban Communities Assem el-Gazzar, and Minister of Agriculture and Land Reclamation Sayyed El-Quseir.
"The prime minister ordered to install water-saving tap devices in all housing units, calling for expanding the establishment of desalination water plants in coastal cities and wastewater treatment plants," the statement said.
Despite the government's efforts to save every drop of water as the country faces water scarcity, 98.4 million Egyptians still live under the water poverty line by 50 percent, below the international line of 1,000 m3.
"Egypt suffers from an annual 21 billion cubic meters gap between water consumption and production. The consumption reached 110 billion cubic meters, while Egypt currently has 60 million cubic meters annually," announced Minister of Water Resources and Irrigation Mohamed Abdel Atti in October 2018.
"To mitigate water shortage, the government increased the number of sewage water treatment stations by 3.8 percent to rise to 432 in 2017/2018 from 416 stations in 2016/2017," the Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics (CAPMAS) said in the annual bulletin in April 2019, adding that the quantity of water produced from such stations reached 4.6 billion m3 in 2018, comparing to 4.3 m3 in 2017
In 2019, Egypt announced the construction of the largest sewage water treatment plant to face water shortage that could affect around 0.5 million people in Sinai. The government’s efforts came amid Egypt’s concern over its Nile water share after Ethiopia has started building the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam on the Blue Nile since May 2011. The tributary of the Ethiopian Plateau feeds 80 percent of the Nile’s water to downstream states [Egypt and Sudan].
On July 21, a mini-summit between the leaders of the three countries was held under the brokerage of the African Union, to stress the need of reaching a binding legal agreement on the GERD’s filling and operation processes, which includes a legal mechanism serving as a reference to be used in case of any future disputes.