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Conquering Groundwater to Protect Egypt’s Antiquities

​Egypt Ministry of Antiquities, USaid EGYPT
CDM Smith’s award-winning dewatering systems at Temple of Edfu mitigate groundwater’s corrosive effects, enable exploration and conservation, improve public health, and support Egypt’s vital tourism economy.

Egypt’s Pharaonic monuments in the Nile River Valley hold some of ancient civilization’s most respected treasures. However, many were deteriorating from rising groundwater caused by urbanization and agricultural practices. Determined to mitigate the water’s corrosive effects at the prominent Temple of Edfu, CDM Smith applied 3D numerical hydrogeological modeling to design dewatering systems.

meters of groundwater drawdown
age of temple of edfu
length of gravity trench drains (meters)

Leveraging our earlier work at Luxor West and an exceptional understanding of the region’s unique geology, we were able to minimize invasive work, maintain the project schedule during Ramadan and Egypt’s recent revolution, and build trust with the Ministry. To ensure long-term success, we conducted community outreach to identify and incorporate benefits for local residents; simplified operations and maintenance; drained entire sites efficiently; and built local human capacity to maintain the program into the future.

To ensure long-term success, we conducted community outreach to identify and incorporate benefits for local residents.
The award-winning protective systems have successfully achieved targeted water levels, enabling exploration and conservation work to continue unhampered by high groundwater, improving public health, providing immediate and long-term job opportunities, and supporting Egypt’s vital tourism economy. Fulfilling our pledge to protect Egypt’s antiquities, we secured contracts for two more groundwater lowering assignments at Kom El Shokafa and the Temple of Kom Ombo.
Buvana Ramaswamy Buvana Ramaswamy
It was a team effort to develop and implement the field programs to provide useful, reliable data while respecting the sites’ social and cultural significance. 
NYT article Kom Ombo NYT article Kom Ombo
The Newest Curse of the Mummy: Bad Drainage
This New York Times article reports how engineers and archae­ol­o­gists are working together to save the ancient Kom Ombo Temple. CDM Smith is working at several location across Egypt to lower groundwater and preserve these ancient sites.
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2015 NGWA Award
CDM Smith’s groundwater lowering project to protect Egyptian antiquities has earned the Outstanding Groundwater Project Award from the National Ground Water Association for outstanding science, engineering, or innovation in the area of protecting groundwater.

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