Prime Minister Saad Hariri on Friday presided over a ministerial meeting aimed at addressing the pollution that is affecting the Litani River, stressing that this topic is among his priorities.

“Our efforts on the issue began a month ago,” Hariri said ahead of the meeting.

Briefing reporters after the meeting, Energy and Water Minister Cesar Abi Khalil said the conferees discussed executing sewage water projects near the river that can “curb pollution.”

“We discussed this issue from the technical and financial aspects, seeing as there are projects whose funding has been secured and efforts to find funds for other projects,” the minister added.

He said that the ministerial committee will hold another meeting after Cabinet’s session on Wednesday to “discuss the issue of industrial pollution which is also affecting the river.”

Asked whether there will be a timeframe for addressing the issue of Litani’s pollution, Abi Khalil said “everyone is determined to resolve the issue as soon as possible and PM Hariri is dealing with it in a very serious manner and following up on its details.”

The committee’s meeting comes amid a popular outcry in several western Bekaa towns, where residents have blamed a surge in cancer cases on the river’s pollution.

A huge number of pollutants flow daily into the river, which is surrounded by sand mines, solid waste dumps, medical waste dumps, and poultry and cow farms.

A lot of towns are also using the river to dispose of their sewage amid an excessive use of agricultural pesticides in the region.

The Litani River is an important water resource in Lebanon. The river rises in the fertile Bekaa Valley, west of Baalbek, and empties into the Mediterranean Sea north of Tyre.

Exceeding 140 km in length, the Litani River is the longest river in Lebanon and provides an average annual flow estimated at 920 million cubic meters.

The waters of the Litani both originate and flow entirely within the borders of Lebanon. It provides a major source for water supply, irrigation and hydroelectricity both within South Lebanon, and the country as a whole.