The Assessment of Egypt’s Subsurface Drainage System

  • Gehan A. H. SallamEmail author
Part of the The Handbook of Environmental Chemistry book series (HEC, volume 75)


Drainage is the removal of excess water and salt from the soil at a rate which will maintain soil structure and aeration in order to permit normal plant growth. Several studies have indicated that water-logging and salinity problems arise as a result of poor water management and inadequate water table control in irrigated agriculture. At the turn of the nineteenth century, perennial irrigation was introduced in the Nile River Delta and Valley of Egypt. The natural drainage in many areas is not enough to account for the excess irrigation water. This has led to a raise in the groundwater table, and increases problems of water-logging and salinity. These problems have serious effects on crop production in arid and semi-arid regions. Many countries which are traditionally famous with their irrigated agriculture, like in Egypt, have realized that the absence of adequate drainage is the reason for the decline in crop production. Therefore, they have undertaken large-scale projects to install drains to conserve the productivity of the agricultural areas. There are three types of drains for removing excess water. These include open drains, subsurface drains, and tube well drains. Each type has advantages and disadvantages. In Egypt, subsurface drains are preferred because of their long effective lifetime ‘when adequately designed and properly installed’, the gain of land, and the comparatively low maintenance cost. A detailed discussion of subsurface drainage techniques in Egypt is provided in this chapter.


Collector Field drains Subsurface drainage Water-logging 


  1. 1.
    Johnston WR (1976) Drainage installation problems in the San Joaquin Valley, California, USA. In: Proceedings of the international drainage workshop. Paper 4.01, publication 25Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Abdel-Dayem MS (1994). Concepts of design methods. In: Refreshing course on land drainage in Egypt, 10–19 Dec 1994Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Cavelaars JC, Vlotman WF, Spoon G (1994) Subsurface drainage systems. In: Ritzema HP (ed) Drainage principles and applications, 2nd edn. ILRI, Publication 16, WageningenGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Hoorn JW, Alphen JG (1994) Salinity control. In: Ritzema HP (ed) Drainage principles and applications, 2nd edn. ILRI, Publication 16, WageningenGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Sallam GAH, Nasralla MR, Ragab MA (2013) Water use efficiency for leaching saline-sodic clayey soils: case study of tina plain area of Egypt. In: Shahid SA et al. (eds) Developments in soil salinity assessment and reclamation, innovative thinking and use of marginal soil and water resources in irrigated agriculture. Springer, Dodrecht, pp 737–747. doi: 10.1007/978-94-007-5684-7_48CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Metzger JF, Gallich J, Nassir F, Brichieri JSA (1990) Subsurface drainage design at ISAWIP, Egypt. In: Symposium on land drainage for salinity control in arid and semi-arid regions, vol 3, Cairo, EgyptGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Amer MH, Abdel-Dayem MS, Osman MA, Makhlouf MA (1989) Recent developments of land drainage in Egypt. In: Amer MH, de Ridder NA (eds) Land drainage in Egypt. Drainage Research Institute, CairoGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Jha MK (2013) Drainage engineering, an online course. Department of Agricultural and Food Engineering, IIT Kharagpur. Accessed 25 Jan 2017
  9. 9.
    Nijland HJ (ed) (2000) Drainage along the River Nile, RIZA Nota nr. 2000.052. Ministry of Public Works and Water Resources, Egypt, Ministry of Transport, Public Works and Water Management, Directorate-General of Public Works and Water Management, The Netherlands, 323 ppGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Oosterbaan RJ (1987) Report of a consultancy assignment to the pilot areas and drainage technology project of the DRI. ILRI, WageningenGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    ICID (1990) Guidelines on the construction of horizontal subsurface drainage systems (Schultz B, ed). International Commission on Irrigation and Drainage, Working Group on Drainage ConstructionGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Abdel-Dayem MS, Ritzema HP (1990) Verification of drainage design criteria in the Nile Delta, Egypt. Irrig Drain 4:117–131CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Ritzema H (2014) Main drainage systems. In: MSc programme land and water development for food security, UNESCO-IHEGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Abdel-Dayem MS (1987) Development of land drainage in Egypt. In: Proceedings of the symposium 25th international course on land drainage. ILRI Publication 42, Wageningen, pp 195–204Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Oosterbaan RJ, Nijland HJ (1994) Determining the saturated hydraulic conductivity. In: Ritzema HP (ed) Drainage principles and applications. International Institute for Land Reclamation and Improvement (ILRI), ILRI Publication 16, Wageningen, pp 435–476Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    Domenico PA, Schwartz FW (1998) Physical and chemical hydrogeology, 2nd edn. Wiley, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Murty VVN, Jha MK (2009) Land and water management engineering, 5th edn. Kalyani Publishers, Ludhiana, pp 374–387Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Smedema LK, Rycroft DW (1983) Land drainage. Batsford Academic and Education, LondonGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Bouwer H, Jackson RD (1974) Determining soil properties. In: van Schilfgaarde J (ed) Drainage for agriculture, agronomy monograph 17. American Society of Agronomy, Madison, pp 611–672Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    Boast CW, Laugebartel RG (1984) Shape factors for seepage into pits. Soil Sci Soc Am J 48:10–15CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    Luthin JH, Kirkham D (1949) A piezometer method for measuring permeability of soil in situ below a water table. Soil Sci 68:349–358CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. 22.
    Nasralla MR (2003) Development of hydrophysical parameters for the design of drainage system in Egypt. Unpublished PhD thesis, Ain Shams University, Faculity of Engineering, Cairo, EgyptGoogle Scholar
  23. 23.
    Taylor GS (1960) Drainable porosity evaluation from outflow measurements and its use in draw down equations. Soil Sci 90:338–343CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. 24.
    FAO (1979) Drainage design factor. FAO Irrigation and Drainage No. 38. Rome, pp 12–14Google Scholar
  25. 25.
    Ritzema HP (ed) (1994) Drainage principles and applications. International Institute for Land Reclamation and Improvement (ILRI), ILRI Publication 16, WageningenGoogle Scholar
  26. 26.
    Yousef SM, Ghaith MA, Abdel-Ghany MB, Soliman KM (2016) Evaluation and modification of some equations used in design of subsurface drainage systems. In: Nineteenth international water technology conference, IWTC19 Sharm ElSheikh, 21–23 Apr 2016, pp 208–225Google Scholar
  27. 27.
    Maasland M, Haskew HC (1957) The auger hole method for measuring the hydraulic conductivity of soil and its application to tile drainage problems. In: Trans. Int. Congr. Irrig. Drain, 3rd. New Delhi, pp 8.69–8.114Google Scholar
  28. 28.
    Schilfgaarde YV (1963) Design of tile drainage for falling water tables. J Irrig Drain Div 89(3):53–64Google Scholar
  29. 29.
    Dumm LD (1960) Validity and use of the transient flow concept in subsurface drainage. Paper presented at ASAE meeting, Memphis, Dec, pp 4–7Google Scholar
  30. 30.
    Amer MH, Luthin JN (1967) Proposed drain spacing equation and an experimental check of transient equations with the Heleshaw model. In: Proceeding No. 2, international soil water symposium, congress on irrigation and drainage, PragueGoogle Scholar
  31. 31.
    Abdel-Dayem MS (1973) Effective methods for drainage in the Delta area of Egypt. Unpublished MSc thesis, Ain Shams University, CairoGoogle Scholar
  32. 32.
    Luthin JN (ed) (1957) Drainage of agricultural lands. American Society of Agronomy, MadisonGoogle Scholar
  33. 33.
    Schwab GO, Fangmeier DD, Elliot WJ, Frevert RK (2005) Soil and water conservation engineering, 4th edn. Wiley, SingaporeGoogle Scholar
  34. 34.
    Parsons JE (1999) Simulation models for drainage water quality. In: Skaggs R, van Schilfgaarde J (eds) Agricultural drainage. Agronomy, vol 38. American Society of Agronomy, MadisonGoogle Scholar
  35. 35.
    Skaggs WR (1999) Drainage simulation models. In: Skaggs R, van Schilfgaarde J (eds) Agricultural drainage. Agronomy, vol 38. American Society of Agronomy, MadisonGoogle Scholar
  36. 36.
    FAO (2005) Materials for subsurface land drainage systems. Irrigation and drainage paper 60. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), RomeGoogle Scholar
  37. 37.
    Ritzema HP, Nijland HJ, Croon FW (2006) Subsurface drainage practices: from manual installation to large-scale implementation. Agric Water Manag 86:60–71CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. 38.
    Nijland HJ, Croon FW, Ritzema HP (2005) Subsurface drainage practices: guidelines for the implementation, operation and maintenance of subsurface pipe drainage systems. Alterra, ILRI Publication no. 60, Wageningen, p 608Google Scholar
  39. 39.
    Agar AI (2011) Selection of geo-synthetic filter materials as envelopes in clay and silty loam soils to prevent siltation: a case study from Turkey. Afr J Agric Res 6(16):3930–3935Google Scholar
  40. 40.
    ICID (1979) Committee on irrigation and drainage construction techniques. International Commission on Irrigation and Drainage, RabatGoogle Scholar
  41. 41.
    World Bank (1991) Arab Republic of Egypt, national drainage project – staff appraisal reportGoogle Scholar
  42. 42.
    Vlotman WF, Omara A (1998) Drain envelope need, design and quality control. Drainage Research Institute, El-Kanater, Egypt, technical report TR 89v2, Drainage Research Programme Project (DRP), Oct 1998, 81 ppGoogle Scholar
  43. 43.
    Sallam GA (1997) Specification and quality assurance of subsurface drainage projects. Unpublished MSc thesis, Zagazig University, Faculity of Engineering, ZagazigGoogle Scholar
  44. 44.
    Abdel-Dayem MS, Ritzema HP, El-Atfy HE, Amer MH (1989) Pilot areas and drainage technology. In: Amer MH, de Ridder NA (eds) Land drainage in Egypt. Drainage Research Institute (DRI), CairoGoogle Scholar
  45. 45.
    Abdel Dayem MS (1995) Status of implementing modified drainage systems in rice growing areas. Report presented to the Advisory Panel on Land Drainage and Drainage Related Water Management, Drainage Research Institute, Mar 1995Google Scholar
  46. 46.
    DRI (2001) Subsurface drainage research on design, technology and management. Final report of Drainage Research Project I & II. Drainage Research Institute, Delta Barrages, CairoGoogle Scholar
  47. 47.
    Abdelaty EM, Sallam GAH, Abdelaal GM, Waheed-Eldin O (2010) Environmental impact assessment of subsurface drainage projects in Egypt. Egypt Int J Eng Sci Technol 13(2):411–418Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Drainage Research Institute (DRI), National Water Research Centre (NWRC)CairoEgypt

Personalised recommendations