Ismaïlia Canal

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(Redirected from Sweet Water Canal)
Ismailia Canal
Construction began1861
Date completed1863
Start pointZagazig (Nile)
End pointIsmalia (Lake Timsah)
Beginning coordinates30°6′18″N 31°14′30″E / 30.10500°N 31.24167°E / 30.10500; 31.24167 (East end)
Ending coordinates30°35′21″N 32°17′0″E / 30.58917°N 32.28333°E / 30.58917; 32.28333 (West end)
  • Al-Suways al-Ḥulwah Canal (Ismalia to Suez)[1]
  • Al-ʿAbbāsiyyah Canal (Ismalia to Port Said)[1]

Ismailia Canal or the Al-Ismāʿīliyyah Canal, formerly known as the Sweet Water Canal or the Fresh Water Canal, is a canal which was dug by thousands of Egyptian fellahin to facilitate the construction of the Suez Canal. The canal travels east-west across Ismailia Governorate.[2]

It was dug to provide fresh water to the arid area, from Lake Timsah to Suez and Port Said.[3][4]: 267 [5] The canal facilitated the growth of agriculture settlements along the Suez Canal, and it is particularly important for supplying water to the city of Port Said. Like the Suez Canal, it was designed by French engineers; construction lasted from 1861 until 1863. It runs through the now-dry distributary of the Wadi Tumilat,[6] incorporating portions of an ancient Suez Canal that existed between Old Cairo and the Red Sea.[4]: 251–257 

The Ismailia Canal proper ends at Ismalia. Additional branches connect the canal from Ismailia to Suez and Port Said. The Sweet Water Canal refers to a combination of the Ismailia Canal and its southern branch to Suez.[1]


In February 1862, after thousands of workers excavated 1.1 million cubic meters, the canal reached Lake Timsah. As soon as the fresh water reached the area, more labourers were hired for the Suez Canal construction project. The canal also allowed for the easy transportation of materials and food with ferries traveling along its narrow ways.[3][7]

Battle of Kassassin Lock[edit]

The Battle of Kassassin Lock was fought near Sweet Water Canal, on August 28, 1882.[8]

Anglo-Egyptian War[edit]

Less than 100 years later, the canal[9] no longer provided clean, fresh water but was disturbingly polluted. During the 1950s when British soldiers were stationed in the area, some referred to the canal as an open sewer. Royal Air Force personnel were advised to avoid contact with the water and were warned that the canal was where deserters would end up.[10] When the war became especially bloody, between national, Egyptian, resistance movements and British soldiers, from October 1951 to January 1952, the remains of some of the British soldiers who were tortured and killed, ended up in the canal.[5][11][12]

Present day[edit]

The Ismalia Canal remains the main source of drinking and irrigation water for many cities in the 21st century. According to a 2014 study, its water quality is excellent for irrigation, and ranges from good to poor for drinking. Pollution nowadays is mainly a combination of upstream Nile discharge, treated drainage into the canal, and seepage from trash.[13]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "Suez Canal - History". Encyclopedia Britannica.
  2. ^ "Al-Ismailiyyah". Britannica. Archived from the original on 19 October 2016. Retrieved 20 November 2016.
  3. ^ a b Karabell, Zachary (2003). Parting the Desert: The Creation of the Suez Canal. A.A. Knopf. p. 172. ISBN 9780375408830. Retrieved 19 November 2016. British servicemen, sweet water canal.
  4. ^ a b Rappoport S. "Chapter V: "The Waterways of Egypt"". History of Egypt. Vol. 12, Part B. London: The Grolier Society. Archived from the original on 2013-01-27. Retrieved 11 March 2013.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  5. ^ a b Smith, Simon C. (2016). Reassessing Suez 1956: New Perspectives on the Crisis and Its Aftermath. Routledge. p. 16. ISBN 9781317070696. Retrieved 19 November 2016.
  6. ^ Encyclopædia Britannica, 11th edition, s.v. "Suez Canal" Archived 2016-11-19 at the Wayback Machine. Accessed 19 November 2016.
  7. ^ "Photo of ferry in canal". Suez Canal Zone. Archived from the original on 8 April 2016. Retrieved 20 November 2016.
  8. ^ Arthur, Sir George (1909). The story of the Household Cavalry. London,: A. Constable. pp. 676–679. Retrieved 21 November 2016.
  9. ^ Woolley, Richard (Dick). "Suez Canal Zone Map". Suez Canal Zone. Archived from the original on 2 November 2016. Retrieved 20 November 2016.
  10. ^ Richards, Colin (November 3, 2012). New Skeletons (2nd ed.). Colin Archer-Richards. ISBN 9781291925623. Retrieved 19 November 2016.
  11. ^ Delta, Charlie. "Photos of the Sweet Water Canal in the 1950s". Suez Canal Zone. Archived from the original on 2016-10-29.
  12. ^ Tait, James H. (21 November 2012). One Day At A Time: My Lfe And Times (Ch. 41 Service in Suez). AuthorHouse. ISBN 9781456793029. Retrieved 20 November 2016.
  13. ^ Goher, Mohamed E.; Hassan, Ali M.; Abdel-Moniem, Ibrahim A.; Fahmy, Ayman H.; El-sayed, Seliem M. (2014). "Evaluation of surface water quality and heavy metal indices of Ismailia Canal, Nile River, Egypt". The Egyptian Journal of Aquatic Research. 40 (3): 225–233. doi:10.1016/j.ejar.2014.09.001.