Environment: High on Aswan

A vote for Egypt's great dam

Every summer the ancient Egyptians threw a beautiful virgin into the Nile to propitiate the river god. The Nile was Egypt's lifeblood: its waters renewed the parched land, and its sediment enriched the soil. But at times there was too much water, engulfing fields and villages, or too little, bringing famine and death.

In the 1960s, this timeless cycle was broken. With construction of the Aswan High Dam, the largest and most ambitious barrier ever built across the river, the Nile's annual floods were brought under complete control. A 2,000-sq.-mi. reservoir was created, and, through the...

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