President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi has said that the government aims to rationalize water consumption in Egypt despite stressing that the country’s water share from the Nile River will not decline.
Egypt is in conflict with Addis Ababa over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) it is building on the main tributary of the Nile.
Cairo fears that the dam will damage its limited share of the Nile water of about 55.5 billion cubic meters. The country needs more than 90 percent for its drinking water supply, irrigation for agriculture, and industry.
Sisi inaugurated Bahr el-Baqar wastewater treatment plant, the largest of its kind worldwide with a daily production capacity of 5.6 million cubic meters.
The triple-treated water will be transferred to North Sinai to contribute to the reclamation of agricultural land within the framework of the national project for the development of Sinai and to support making the best use of the state's water resources.
The President stressed that his country is working to preserve its water resources due to its scarcity.
Sisi said that the reclamation of 500,000 feddans in Sinai had cost LE150-160 billion acquired through loans, which is crucial to maintain existing canals and Nile mainstream.
The President warned that the punishment to individuals, who commit encroachments, would include the withdrawal of any subsidies they get, and that even applies to subsidized bread and staples.
He further added, "encroachments will not just be removed. They will be removed at the expense of violators,” setting a six-month ultimatum.
"We must improve the quality and efficiency of irrigation systems," asserted Sisi, stressing that developing the agricultural sector leads to self-sufficiency and reduces imports.
Farmers can't afford the cost to improve the canals, and the government aims to improve water access to agricultural lands so that production does not decrease and farmers lose, asserted Sisi.
The President warned that wasting water leads to the waste of agricultural land and reducing arable land.
Egypt and Sudan have been negotiating with Ethiopia for ten years to reach an agreement on the Renaissance Dam without any result.
The UN Security Council called on the three countries to resume negotiations under the auspices of the African Union (AU), stressing in a presidential statement the need to reach a binding agreement acceptable to all and within a reasonable timetable.
Egypt, along with Sudan, wants to conclude a binding legal agreement regulating the filling and operation of the dam, despite Ethiopia’s rejection.
On Monday, Egypt's Foreign Minister, Sameh Shoukry, described an Ethiopian negotiator's remarks about reaching an agreement on GERD as "evasive."
"Such Ethiopian statements are a continuation of fallacies, prevarication, and lack of credibility, which does not bode well for the existence of a political will to reach an agreement," Shoukry said.
Earlier on Saturday, a member of the Ethiopian negotiating team on the dam, Ibrahim Idris, said his country "will not accept a settlement that goes against its national interests in any form."
"If Ethiopia signs an agreement with Egypt and Sudan, this will only happen when national interests and the future development of water resources are secured," he added.
Shoukry explained that the meeting with the UN Secretary-General understood Egypt's stance regarding GERD and that the Security Council stressed the importance of reaching a binding solution on the dam.