Mubarak Pumping Station: the largest pump station ever built

Mamdouh Hamza, PhD, PE, Ahmed Rashed, PhD, PE, and Mohamed Abdel-Latif, PhD, DEE, PE


Being one of five projects recognized world wide in 2005 by ASCE, Mubarak Pumping Station (MPS) won the 2005-OCEA-Merit Award. MPS is the largest pump station ever built with a total pumping capacity of 7.8 billion gallon per day (BGD).

In Egypt is mainly 95% desert land. The per capita share of agricultural land continued to slide and currently stands at 1/9th of an acre (the world average is about 1.0 acre). To improve such adverse condition, the Egyptian government is implementing a strategic plan to reclaim 3.5 million acres of desert between the years 1997 and 2017. The Toshka project is one component of the plan with the objective of reclaiming 500,000 acres. The water supply for the project comes from Lake Nasser, 200 km South of Aswan High Dam (AHD). The giant pump station will lift water from Lake Nasser 177 feet to a discharge basin where water will flow by gravity into a network of man made concrete lined canals, with a combined length of 200 miles. MPS consists of the intake canal, the suction basin, the pump station building and the discharge basin, in addition to many ancillary support structures.

A 3.0 mile intake canal conveys water from Lake Nasser to the MPS suction basin. The volume of excavation and dredging of the intake canal is 360 million cubic feet. Half of this volume is dry excavation. The other half is dredged by two of the world’s largest barge-mounted excavators and a twin hydraulic grab machine, all specifically constructed for this project. MPS suction basin area is 33.2 acres and 198 feet deep, approximately twice as large as the Ohio State University stadium (the Horse Shoe). The excavated earth work for the suction basin is 90 million cubic feet, and its excavation depth is 198 feet.

MPS is constructed using 7.0 million cubic feet of watertight reinforced concrete and 30,000 tons of steel, and is designed as an island structure with 24 separate intake pipes, 12 on each side. MPS has 21 variable speed drive pumps, each with a rated pumping capacity of 380 MGD at 200 ft head. Space is provided for 3 additional pump units to meet future irrigation demands. MPS current capacity is 7.8 BGD and can reach 9.1 BGD when fully installed (24 pump units in operation). The pump station building includes two 130-ton capacity girder cranes and a third 130-ton gantry crane for service and maintenance. A dedicated power line from AHD provides the needed electric power.

Water is pumped from the suction basin through steel suction pipes, valves, and main pump units. This system connects with inclined concrete culverts to the discharge basin siphons where energy is dissipated, water then flows by gravity to the desert through a concrete lined, 44 mile, feeder canal. MPS other ancillary support structures include an 11-KV switch building, mechanical, electrical and automotive workshops, stand-by diesel generator building, guard house, water treatment plant, access bridge and emergency bridge.

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