A gala ceremony was held in Libya at the end of August, at which Libyan leaders ``turned on the tap'' of the Great Man-Made River, the water pipeline/viaduct project designed to bring millions of liters of water from beneath the Sahara Desert, northward to the Benghazi region on the Mediterranean coast. The inauguration marked the end of Phase I of the project, which is slated for completion in 1996.
Under the giant scheme, water is pumped from aquifers under the Sahara in the southern part of the country, where underground water resources extend into Egypt and Sudan. Then the water is transported by reinforced concrete pipeline to northern destinations. Construction on the first phase started in 1984, and cost about $5 billion. The completed project may total $25 billion.
South Korean construction experts built the huge pipes in Libya by some of the most modern techniques. The engineering feat involves collecting water from 270 wells in east central Libya, and transporting it through about 2,000 kilometers of pipeline to Benghazi and Sirte. The new ``river'' brings 2 million cubic meters of water a day. At completion, the system will involve 4,000 kilometers of pipelines, and two aqueducts of some 1,000 kilometers.