20. Aswan Dam, Lake Nasser, and Nile River, Egypt
Lake Nasser, ponded behind the Aswan Dam, dominates this photograph. The Aswan High Dam was built in 1970 to increase the amount of water available for irrigation projects in the lower reaches of the Nile, in an effort to feed Egypt’s exploding population. While this primary objective has been achieved, the delicate ecological balance of the Nile Valley has been disturbed. Traditional agricultural lands along the lower reaches of the Nile return a much reduced yield because they no longer receive the annual increment of fertile soil from the upper reaches of the river. Furthermore, the construction of numerous irrigation canals has encouraged the spread of the waterborne disease bilharzia. The effects of the dam construction extend as far as the Nile delta and the Mediterranean. Previously, the silt-laden waters entering the sea were rich enough in nutrients to support a large fish population, but now the incoming water is depleted, and fish stocks have declined substantially.
The outline of the lake, with small dendritic offshoots, reveals clearly the ancient drainage pattern, which was probably formed during late glacial times. Just north of the dam is the Aswan airstrip, clearly picked out against the desert landscape.
STS-41G. October 1984. Picture #17-33-014.