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Feasibility of rainwater harvesting for sustainable water management in urban areas of Egypt


Egypt’s limited water resources, rapid population growth, and climate change are increasing the gap between water demand and supply. Meanwhile, significant amounts of rain fall in some regions in Egypt during specific storm events, which in some cases, lead to disasters like flash floods and inundations. Rainwater harvesting (RWH) can be considered as a sustainable promising solution to water shortage and inundation problems. In this work, the feasibility of RWH for urban areas was assessed over 22 cities throughout Egypt. Results show that the annual volume of rainwater harvested can reach 142.5 MCM in the considered cities, provided that all rain falling on the urban areas is collected. High potential of rainfall harvesting was found for cities that located on the North Coast, e.g., the potential water saving from the share of RWH in Alexandria can satisfy around 12% of its future supplementary domestic water needs. In contrast, rainfall over the cities located on the middle and the south of the country is insignificant to be harvested. A case study for the 5th settlement region in Cairo was discussed in terms of groundwater recharge and surface runoff estimation for two conditions: No–RWH and RWH systems by implementing recharge wells to store rainwater into the aquifer. Land cover classification maps of urban areas were created by using the ARCGIS software to estimate equivalent infiltration coefficients. The results demonstrate that the implementation of such RWH system has a significant impact on the regional water cycle, where the effective infiltration coefficient increased from 10% (No–RWH) to 75% (RWH) in the case study. Accordingly, the runoff coefficient decreased in the case study from 0.8 (No–RWH) to 0.15 (RWH), and the volume of runoff decreased in the case of RWH by around 82% lower than that of the No–RWH condition. Thus, direct infiltration of RWH into an aquifer can play an important role in sound water management for urban environments, as this may lead to a significant reduction in risks of flooding and expenses of municipal drainage systems installation and operation.

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Correspondence to Tamer A. Gado.

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Responsible editor: Philippe Garrigues

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Gado, T.A., El-Agha, D.E. Feasibility of rainwater harvesting for sustainable water management in urban areas of Egypt. Environ Sci Pollut Res 27, 32304–32317 (2020).

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  • Rainfall
  • Rainwater harvesting
  • Groundwater recharge
  • Water management
  • Infiltration coefficient
  • Water savings
  • Egypt