Institutional and Economic Instruments for Sustainable Water Management in the Meditteranean Region
Institutional and Economic Instruments for Sustainable Water Management in the Meditteranean Region
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This section is dedicated to local stakeholder discussions on the issue of water stress experienced in the Damour River Basin, Lebanon. This page provides a summary of the analyses carried out within the framework of the INECO project, for the analysis of the selected issue, and also includes a tentative definition of objectives corresponding to the mitigation of the problem causes.

For accessing the Local Stakeholder Discussion Forum and the dedicated questionnaires please click the links on the left.



When compared to other regions, it can be argued that the Damour River Basin is characterized by a relatively high water abundance of both surface and groundwater resources. However, during the past few years, the basin has started to experience water stress, resulting from both the reduction in the availability of surface and groundwater resources, and the deterioration of water quality which restricts the use of available resources for certain purposes. If current trends continue, they would lead to increased conflicts among water users and to increased social costs, arising from accumulated health problems associated with the pollution of water resources. Several initiatives have been launched and implemented in the past, including the Coastal Area Management Project (CAMP). However, there is still lack of concerted and integrated efforts that would lead to effective mitigation of the problem.


An analysis of water stress causes and effects

The Damour River basin is currently facing increasing water stress, manifested through the decrease in the total amount of surface and groundwater of adequate quality available to meet the needs of local domestic, agricultural and industrial users. The problem is particularly acute in the irrigated coastal plains of Damour, where farmers complain about the lack of water during the summer season, because the river water is abstracted upstream and there is no rational allocation of water. Groundwater resources are also under stress due to important abstractions particularly for inter-basin transfer to the Beirut area. In addition, the Damour municipality has repeatedly expressed its concern about the increased salinity of groundwater.

A tentative analysis of the causes and effects of this problem is presented in the Figure below.

The focal problem is caused by several factors including uncontrolled discharges of industrial and domestic wastewater in surface water, uncontrolled surface water allocation, and seawater intrusion in groundwater. These are in turn attributed to limited law enforcement, inadequate regulatory instruments, limited capacities of authorities (particularly for law enforcement), limited financial resources, absence of a clear planning framework, absence of a participation and coordination platform, and limited monitoring activities. Inter-basin transfer of groundwater resources is leading to deterioration of groundwater quality in the coastal area. These issues are further caused by lack of relevant awareness and technical capacity, by social and political pressure from user groups, and lack of integrated management of the water resources of the area.
It is expected that the focal problem could further lead to an increased number of conflicts among water users, and to increased social costs incurred from health problems associated with the use of polluted water.


Towards defining objectives

Based on the analysis summarized above, the following figure presents a set of possible objectives to address the identified focal problem. The primary objective of proposed interventions in the basin would be to secure the needed quantities of both surface and groundwater in adequate quality to the users of the basin.  In order to reach such an objective, industrial and municipal discharges within the basin must be controlled, surface water allocation rationalized, and seawater intrusion in groundwater reduced through more controlled pumping of groundwater, particularly for use outside the region.


Ways for achieving the above can range from technical interventions, to ensure adequate water supply and acceptable wastewater treatment, institutional and administrative interventions, in the form of strict law enforcement, control and regulation, economic instruments, for providing incentives towards water conservation and adoption of pollution mitigation practices, and efforts to increase awareness and public participation, with the ultimate goal of promoting co-decision on the management of shared resources.


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