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LETTERS TO THE EDITORS

Nile Marker

To the Editors:

In reading the article "The Artificial Nile" by Scott Nixon (March–April), my attention was drawn to the statement about the design and construction of the Aswan High Dam by the Russian Zuk Hydroproject Institute. This is a true statement, of course. However, design of a replacement for the old dam was first undertaken beginning in 1954 by an international board on which my mentor, Lorenz G. Straub, served. Straub undertook to find a means to bypass some of the sediment around the dam both to prevent the reservoir from filling with sediment too rapidly and to prevent the bed and banks of the Nile from being eroded by otherwise sediment-free water. (Ideally, the sediment would have been carried downstream by floodwaters, which would spread nutrients over the riverbanks—probably an impossible task.) Straub was preparing to conduct physical model studies at the St. Anthony Falls Hydraulic Laboratory at the University of Minnesota; file boxes full of records and rolls of maps are still in storage at the laboratory. However, political events in the late 1950s caused Western nations to fall out of favor with Egypt. Straub's last trip to Cairo was in 1959. I am not knowledgeable about what the Russian designers did with the sediment problem, if anything.

Edward Silberman
University of Minnesota


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