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Conflicts over water use

Based on the discussions held with different stakeholders, several conflicts over water use are experienced in the Damour area, between: 

  • The stakeholders and the policy makers, primarily between the municipality and Beirut Water Authority, since the BWA overexploits the groundwater resources.
  • The stakeholders themselves, primarily between the municipality and the upstream water users. The upstream users commit offenses (over exploitation and river contamination).

On the one hand, the BWA is facing major problems in providing sufficient water to meet the constantly increasing water demand in Beirut, and needs to rely on external sources of water (groundwater from Damour being one of these). On the other hand, the municipality of Damour is concerned by the increased salinity of groundwater due to excessive pumping, and by the overall deterioration of groundwater quality. The Damour municipality does not even have access to the records of BWA to monitor the quantity of water being pumped and the quality of the water. In addition to the groundwater issue, the Damour municipality complains about inappropriate allocation of the Damour river water upstream and the excessive pollution of the river by upstream users. The coastal agricultural plain is at times suffering from lack of sufficient water due to overexploitation of surface water resources by upstream users. Nevertheless, upstream users are not willing to discuss the issue and reach consensus on the amounts of water to be used. With respect to water quality, there is no sufficient enforcement of discharge standards to ensure proper treatment of both domestic and industrial wastewater prior to disposal in the river.

The results of a SWOT analysis undertaken in the area identify the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats that the water resources management system is currently facing. Strengths and weaknesses refer to issues internal to the area and related to its inherent characteristics. Opportunities and threats come from outside the Damour area boundaries.