Mysterious groundwater rise floods homes in Libyan coastal town | Environmental News



Much of Libya is a dry desert, but one town on the Mediterranean coast suffers from the opposite problem. Houses and fields were flooded due to a mysterious rise in groundwater.

Around the northwestern town of Zliten, stagnant water and slimy mud have flooded houses, streets and palm groves, creating a foul odor and creating a breeding ground for mosquitoes.

Many residents have been evacuated from homes with cracked and collapsing walls amid concerns that the environmental crisis is worsening in the region, about 100 miles (160 kilometers) east of the capital, Tripoli.

Mohammad Ali Diub, the owner of a farm about 4 kilometers (2.5 miles) from Zliten, said: “Water started coming out two months ago, but the water level is still rising and the well continues to be submerged. “There is,” he said. “All my fruit trees have died, including apple, apricot and pomegranate trees.”

The 60-year-old man said he rented a water tanker to pump out stagnant water and bought large quantities of sand to dump on the damp ground in order to protect some of his precious date palms.

Mohammad Al Nouali, another farmer whose land was completely flooded, said the area’s normally sandy, light soil had become “muddy, black and smelly.”

Mokhta Hammadi, the mayor of Zliten, a town of 350,000 people known for its Sufi shrine, al-Athmaria University and palm and olive groves, said nearly 50 families had been relocated.

Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibah this month pledged to “resolve this crisis in a scientific and swift manner” and called on authorities to compensate and relocate displaced families.

However, there is still no consensus on the cause of the flooding.

Libya has been plagued by conflict and turmoil since the fall of Muammar Gaddafi’s regime in 2011, and is currently ruled by two competing regimes based in Tripoli and Benghazi.

Two dams burst in September, causing devastating flooding in the eastern Libyan city of Derna. The massive floods left more than 4,300 people dead and 8,000 missing, according to the United Nations.

Local residents in Zliten say groundwater flooding is nothing new, pointing to areas that have become overgrown with reeds due to years of flooding. But they also say the phenomenon is hitting them on a scale previously unknown. Media reports point to a variety of possible causes, from poor drainage infrastructure to damaged pipelines and heavy winter rains.

Foreign experts from Britain, Egypt, Greece and other countries are visiting Zliten to try to identify the cause of the problem and find a solution.

Elsewhere in the world, sea level rise is thought to be linked to rising coastal groundwater, as dense salt water can seep deep into the earth and push up lighter fresh water.

Meanwhile, Libyan authorities have linked the flooding to the so-called “Great Artificial River,” a vast network of Gaddafi-era pipes that channeled water from aquifers deep in the southern desert to irrigate coastal agricultural areas. denying sexuality.

The project management company and the country’s major water and power companies are all participating in the effort to alleviate the town’s hardships. The country’s National Center for Disease Control sent emergency teams, equipment and pesticides to eradicate the mosquito swarms.

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