SEATTLE — In the Middle East, water supplies are already meager. The water quality in Lebanon is low and the country’s people are facing a water crisis due to poor rainfall and droughts, but steps are being taken to turn the situation around.
While it might not be well known, Lebanon is naturally water-rich when compared to other countries in the Middle East. However, a majority of the unused water flows to the sea due to poorly maintained or missing infrastructure, which results in water shortages. The added pressure of changing climates and an influx of more than one million Syrian refugees may be putting a strain on the water supply in Lebanon. Water shortages are common in the summer, leading residents to use unlicensed wells and private water providers.
Some people only have access to water for a few hours during the day, and even then, the water quality is poor. There are approximately 20,000 illegal groundwater wells across Greater Beirut and Mount Lebanon. Both are highly populated areas that endure frequent flooding, and the people are forced to choose between poor-quality water or expensive bottled water.
Pollution also affects water quality in Lebanon. Only 10 percent of wastewater is treated, while the remaining 90 percent is released directly into the environment. There have been attempts to improve infrastructure, but due to political and financial problems, few changes have been made. According to Fanack Water, a resource dedicated to water quality in the Middle East, the water sector in Lebanon is inefficiently structured and existing water quality legislation is often not enforced.
The Lebanese government, with the help of the World Bank Group and other development partners, has begun a program to provide an additional 250,000 cubic meters of water every day to the Greater Beirut and Mount Lebanon region. The plan is to use underground tunnels, pipeline, storage reservoirs and a large treatment plant to improve the water quality in Lebanon. The World Bank believes that this and other water projects in the works in Lebanon demonstrate the country’s commitment to water safety and sustainability.
– Chavez Spicer