Before the dams were built, the River Nile flooded each year during summer, as water flowed down the valley from its East African drainage basin. These floods brought high water, plus natural nutrients and minerals that continuously enriched the fertile soil along the river and made the Nile valley ideal for farming, as it had since ancient times. As Egypt’s population grew and conditions changed, there came a need to control the flood waters to both protect and support farmland and economically important cotton fields. In high-water years, the whole crop might be wiped out, while in low-water years widespread drought and famine had sometimes occurred. With the reservoir storage provided by these dams, the floods could be lessened, and the water could be stored for later release.
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