By Emma Ujah & Gabriel Ewepu
lake Chad can be replenished with water from the Nubian Sandstone Aquifer, the Director-General (D-G) of the National Water Resources Institute, Kaduna, Prof. Emmanuel Adanu, has disclosed.
The Lake with a surface area of about 26,000 square kilometers in the early 1960s has dried up so much that it has been reduced to only about 1,500 square kilometers.
Over 10 million people across the Lake Chad region have lost their livelihoods, following the drying up of a large portion of the lake, leaving behind unprecedented poverty, hunger and violence in that region.
Consequently, the Lake Chad Basin Commission with members including: Nigeria, Niger, Chad, Cameroun, Algeria, the Central African Republic, Libya, and Sudan, has been considering the possibility of refilling the lake from the Congo River, which is about 2, 400 km away.
It is estimated that the ambitious project could gulp as much as between $50 and $60 billion.
However, Prof. Adanu, a Hydrogeology expert, has said that the volume of water in the Nubian Sandstone Aquifer was so huge that it could be easily used to replenish Lake Chad, as an alternative to channelling water from the Congo River.
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According to him, “Two years ago, the President had a conference on how to replenish Lake Chad and the countries of the Lake Chad Commission came. Congo was also invited to see how to channel water to fill the Lake Chad. I was one of the resources persons at the conference.
“And it was a very ambitious project because it requires about 60 billion Euros to achieve that. First of all, we have to find out how this Lake is shrinking, why and how.
“We had lots of theories, and there were two Nigerians, one working with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), who came from the US. He brought some fantastic photographs and satellite images- how they were capturing escape of moisture and how it goes elsewhere and not coming back to the earth.
“After his presentation, I said his was a complex one as we were looking at it from space and most of us are on the ground, let us look at it from the ground and know what is happening. I told them there is water depletion in the environment.
“Some said the rivers sending water there are no more sending water into the Lake because of agricultural activities and climate change.
“Then secondly, rainfall reduction in that area, and I said we have put all these together; the water depletion, the quantity based on these, but when you put it against the total volume of water that is receding, I see something hanging there which we cannot account for.
“So I brought up the case of the groundwater. We have a Nubian Sandstone Aquiver that is the largest fossil aquiver in the world. It is in the Sahara.
“It is under Chad, Egypt, Libya and Sudan. This fossil aquiver is about 11, 000 years old now.
The Nubian Sandstone Aquifer seats under the Lake Chad Formation, the Lake Chad Basin
“The Lake Chad Basin is a Basin and the Aquifer, there is like a connection between the Lake Chad and the Nubian Sandstone Aquiver; sandstone is a rock and Aquifer is a water bearing formation.”
Prof. Adanu said that Libya has been tapping water from the aquiver for some years and that it should also be used to refill Lake Chad.
His words, “Libya has a 4-meter diameter pipe of about 2, 400 kilometres taking water to Benghazi, Sirte, and Tripoli. So they take water from this Nubian Sandstone Aquiver.
“The distance between the earth surface and the Nubian Aquiver is 500 meters. Libya takes 6.5 million cubic meters of water every day from this aquifer and pumping it to Sirte, Tripoli and Benghazi. So they are taking this water aggressively”.