3 articles
The well is the way to go for Lebanon water crisis
Wondering why the taps are running dry? ‘This is Lebanon’
‘If you love me, save me some water,’ conservation drive says

The well is the way to go for Lebanon water crisis
Rayane Abou Jaoude| The Daily Star

BEIRUT: Lebanon has ruled out a plan to import water from Turkey to alleviate its shortage, resorting to dig more wells instead and siphon groundwater, Deputy Prime Minister Samir Moqbel said Thursday.

“Following a thorough discussion of the study prepared by Water and Energy Minister Arthur Nazarian, it was agreed that for the time being we will be dealing with water shortages by digging wells,” Moqbel said after chairing ministerial committee meeting tasked with finding solutions to the crisis, the worst in decades.

The minister said work has started on a number of wells, and that more will be dug once the geological studies are done to identify the appropriate areas to extract groundwater.

“We also agreed on the need to follow up on the implementation of water-saving projects, including building dams and lakes as mid- and long-term solutions,” Moqbel said at the Grand Serail.

“What has been circulated in the media about importing water was ruled out,” Moqbel added.

Nazarian told The Daily Star that the plan to import water from Turkey had never been seriously considered in the first place.

“There was never any study, no data, no cost, we don’t know if the water is clean, or if it’s river water,” he explained.

Nazarian said that according to information made available to him by the Water Authority for Beirut and Mount Lebanon, Lebanon was currently facing a shortage of 100,000 cubic meters of water.

“Of course there is a shortage, and we know this,” he said, adding that the committee has been meeting with geologists for the past week to determine which locations were best to access water, and echoed Moqbel’s comments in stating that work on the wells began approximately a month ago.

It is estimated that the wells will produce approximately 40,000 to 50,000 cubic meters of water, he told The Daily Star. However, he acknowledged that there was a possibility that that the wells would not extract enough.

“We need to try to pass this phase, even if with difficulty,” Nazarian stressed.

“We need to pass it with our own capabilities before depending on others’ capabilities.”

“It is shameful that we, Lebanon, are looking for water abroad.”

Nazarian said that another meeting is expected to take place next week to discuss the possible results of the wells. He also stressed that the country needed to stop wasting water, and both the government and Lebanese citizens needed to contribute to water conservation.

Lebanon is struggling with one of the worst water shortages in recent memory following an unusually dry winter, exacerbated by the influx of over 1.1 million Syrian refugees.

Read more: http://www.dailystar.com.lb/News/Lebanon-News/2014/Jul-18/264281-the-well-is-the-way-to-go-for-lebanon-water-crisis.ashx#ixzz3871KQEdw
(The Daily Star :: Lebanon News :: http://www.dailystar.com.lb)

Wondering why the taps are running dry? ‘This is Lebanon’

Meris Lutz| The Daily Star

BEIRUT: Lebanon is moving forward with a plan to import water from Turkey, having failed to impose any restrictions on water usage in response to one of the worst water shortages in recent memory.

“It is unbelievable that they think now of importing and they have done nothing to stop waste,” said Nadim Farajalla, an environmental hydrologist from the American University of Beirut. “If we need to import, that’s the last thing we do.”

Environment Minister Mohammad Machnouk expressed a similar sentiment in a statement released Wednesday in which he said that conserving Lebanon’s existing resources should be prioritized over importing water.

Even the most vocal proponent of the plan, MP Mohammad Qabbani, admitted his frustration that the rest of a proposal put forward by his parliamentary committee to address the crisis was being ignored.

“Today I drove through Solidere [Downtown Beirut], and they were hosing down the sidewalks,” he said, shaking his head.

Despite his reservations, Machnouk has submitted an official request to the Turkish government to import 100,000 cubic liters of water a day for a period of four months, starting in September, Qabbani told The Daily Star Wednesday. While the government has yet to receive a reply, Qabbani said Ankara responded positively “in principle” when the Turkish ambassador conveyed an earlier, oral request.

The lawmaker emphasized that Lebanon was negotiating “state to state” and not with any private companies. The Turkish Embassy declined to comment.

Qabbani said that, if an agreement is struck, the imported water would be pumped into the Dbayyeh water treatment plant and, if possible, the one in Dayshounieh, for distribution to the Beirut area.

A water expert who has worked closely with the Water and Energy Ministry said neither location currently has the infrastructure to receive water from a large tanker

“It’s doable, but it will need some time for to put the infrastructure in place,” he said.

“I’m not sure if it can be done in the remaining two months of summer,” he continued, adding that the Dayshounieh plant would require an additional 5 kilometers of piping.

Importing water is one of several proposals put forward by Qabbani to manage the crisis following an unusually dry winter. He admitted that the drought was compounded by years of “mismanagement” of Lebanon’s water resources.

He added, however, that some of the other recommendations put forward by the committee, including bans on using hoses, washing cars or sidewalks and watering lawns, as well as a moratorium on certain types of irrigation, could be enacted by a decree from the Energy and Water Ministry, and did not need Cabinet approval.

When asked why none of the recommendations for conserving water had yet been adopted, he said: “This is Lebanon.”

The Daily Star was unable to contact Water and Energy Minister Arthur Nazarian, and has received no ministerial response to a request filed last week seeking permission to speak to the head of the Water Authority for Beirut and Mount Lebanon.

Qabbani said other proposals, such as the temporary expropriation of private wells by the government, had come up against political opposition.

“What I’m really afraid of is that there is going to be fighting over water,” especially if the price of water skyrockets, he said.

Apart from the logistical consideration, importing water from Turkey would likely prove expensive as well.

“It is neither possible, nor suitable to do it,” said Elie Zakhour, head of the head of the International Chamber of Navigation of Beirut, which represents shipping companies.

While he declined to speculate about the approximate cost, he insisted: “It would cost too much.”

Zakhour dismissed the plan, saying, “It will never happen.”

Israel seemingly cooled to a similar plan for economic reasons.

In 2002, Tel Aviv signed an agreement with Ankara to import some 1.75 billion cubic feet of water a year. The plan stalled when the Israelis balked at the cost of transport, and was later scrapped by Turkey in retaliation for the killing of nine activists aboard a Gaza-bound Turkish vessel in 2010.

Farajalla called for increased government transparency, demanding to know the names of the experts behind the plan to import water and how it would be implemented.

“There is a general waste of money and lack of awareness in the government,” he said. “I have no trust in them, no faith in them. What they are doing is not right.”

The Ministerial Committee dedicated to the water crisis is scheduled to meet Thursday.

Read more: http://www.dailystar.com.lb/News/Lebanon-News/2014/Jul-17/264147-wondering-why-the-taps-are-running-dry-this-is-lebanon.ashx#ixzz3871SNmCG
(The Daily Star :: Lebanon News :: http://www.dailystar.com.lb)

‘If you love me, save me some water,’ conservation drive says

Meris Lutz| The Daily Star

BEIRUT: Faced with Lebanon’s worst water shortage in years, the government is hoping a new awareness campaign will inspire the public to conserve water as it struggles to manage the crisis.

The campaign, which launched Tuesday with a 180,000-euro ($244,000) grant from the European Union, will fill billboards, television and radio spots with tips for saving water, such as turning off the faucet while brushing one’s teeth and shaving, and watering houseplants with the water used to wash vegetables. Others feature children telling their wasteful parents “if you love me, save me some water.”

The project will also include educational activities in schools across Lebanon, culminating in a National Water Day.

In addition to raising public awareness about domestic water consumption, the campaign will also target institutions and businesses in agriculture, industry and tourism.

Lebanon experienced an unusually dry winter, and water reserves are running low. Many people have already started buying unregulated private water, which can be contaminated, while farmers complain that their crops are dying.

Energy and Water Minister Arthur Nazarian blamed the crisis on wasted water and changes in the weather, as well as the presence of over a million Syrian refugees for Lebanon’s water depletion.

“All of this has caused our current situation, which we have called a national state of emergency since the first day, and we worked with the relevant ministries and administrations to minimize the repercussions and negative effects on citizens and all productive sectors,” he insisted.

Nazarian went on to offer a rough outline of the Cabinet’s as-yet unannounced plan to address the water crisis, which he said includes reducing water consumption, speeding up development projects, fixing infrastructure, securing alternative water sources and deepening existing wells.

The ministerial plan builds on a parliamentary proposal calling for severe restrictions on water use, including a ban on certain types of irrigation, washing cars and sidewalks, and watering lawns, under threat of fine.

The proposal also called for the government to seize control of private wells while fixing the existing infrastructure to stop leaks.

The plan was heavily criticized by experts, however, who said the infrastructure and enforcement mechanisms needed for implementation do not exist. Neither the parliamentary proposal nor the ministerial action plan has been voted on in either chamber.

Speaking on behalf of EU Ambassador Angelina Eichhorst, Alexis Loeber, head of the EU delegation’s cooperation section, told the audience at the launch of the new campaign that a rapid response was needed to Lebanon’s water crisis, which is occurring in the context of regional desertification.

“We all rely on and often take for granted a steady and safe water supply,” he said. “However, are we responsibly managing that supply, and do we educate our children to use this limited resource responsibly?”

“The same could be asked of the way we return water, wastewater, to nature. In this regard Lebanon has work to do. Just 8 percent of wastewater is adequately treated before being returned to nature,” he said, adding that an EU-funded water treatment plant was under construction, but that its completion “has been affected by delays.”

Read more: http://www.dailystar.com.lb/News/Lebanon-News/2014/Jul-16/264006-if-you-love-me-save-me-some-water-conservation-drive-says.ashx#ixzz3871bdarT
(The Daily Star :: Lebanon News :: http://www.dailystar.com.lb)