In this issue:

The Cyprus INECO and Nostrum-DSS Joint Event: IWRM through coordination, dissemination and exploitation of research outcomes

Egypt: Meeting local residents in Basandeila

Syria: Discussing with authorities on the pollution of the Barada River

Lebanon: Unveiling conflicts & perceptions on water stress in the Damour River Basin

Cyprus: Citizen proposals for the protection of the Pegeia Aquifer

The 2nd semester Deliverables of INECO

Future project events

The INECO Consortium

The INECO Lebanon Workshop
Unveiling conflicts & perceptions on water stress in the Damour River Basin, Lebanon

Workshop overview


The Lebanon workshop, titled "Building a common vision for mitigating water stress in the Damour River Basin" was held on Wednesday, September 12th 2007, at the Meshref Country Club, located in the centre of the Damour River Basin, Lebanon.

The workshop, organized as a 1-day event, was attended by 43 participants, including representatives from Ministries, delegates of local authorities, local farmers and owners of agricultural lands, representatives of the Beirut & Mount Lebanon Water Office and NGOs, and experts working in the field of water resource and environmental management.

The 1st session of the workshop included the welcoming addresses of Mr. Claude Tabbal (Conseil et Developpement s.a.l., the INECO Regional Partner in Lebanon), and of Dr. Fady Comeir (Ministry of Energy and Water). Prof. Dionysis Assimacopoulos presented an overview of the principles and methodological framework of INECO, focusing on the activities foreseen in Lebanon, and the steps undertaken so far in order to establish a constructive dialogue process at the regional level.

More information on water stress in Damour

The 2nd Session of the workshop was focused to the water stress issues faced in the Damour River Basin. Mr. Claude Tabbal presented the problem analysis carried out so far, in order to initiate the discussion among participants on what the real causes of the problem are, and how these should be addressed, also through local initiatives and efforts. The presentation was followed by a group-work session, where all participants wrote suggestions, perceptions and ideas on the workshop theme.

Post-it papers were placed onto the main board of the room. Participants were asked to comment on the different suggestions, comments and ideas that had been written. A discussion was initiated in order to arrive to a set of problems that should be further discussed during the event and in the subsequent stages of INECO.

The 3rd session aimed at summarizing the outcomes of the discussion, and arriving to a concrete set of follow-up actions and recommendations for water management in the River Basin. The session was introduced through a presentation on the IWRM principles, with emphasis on the need for public participation, collaboration and awareness (Ms. Elina Manoli, School of Chemical Engineering, National Technical University of Athens). Draft policy objectives were elaborated by Mr. Claude Tabbal, to be further discussed in subsequent meetings.

Group-work session - Perceptions on water stress causes

The group-work session helped identifying the different perceptions that stakeholders had on the true causes of the problem.

Participant view over problem causes:
 Low water availability both in terms of quantity and quality
(2) Excessive water use, without limit and control
 Environmental violations all along the Damour river
(4) Disposal of solid waste into the river
(5) Illogical and irrational allocation of water among users
(6) Wastewater reuse is not practiced

In summary, problem causes that were identified during the meeting were:

  • Pollution originating from communities located upstream, which affects water quality downstream.
  • Conflicts over water allocation between traditional water rights owners and new users, combined with an outdated legislation on the regulation of abstractions, which does not take into account the decreasing trends in river flow and the increase in water demand.
  • Inadequate governmental support for addressing the lack of water supply and wastewater collection and treatment infrastructure in the River Basin.
  • The need for an integrated water management plan, which would also address inter-basin transfer (presently groundwater from the Damour area is used for supplying the region of Beirut) and would promote water conservation and use of alternative water sources (wastewater reuse).

Participant suggestions on causes to the problem and options:
(1) Take into consideration the genuine owners of water rights who are entitled to the use of Damour river waters and stop violations from those who do not have rights
(2) Stop drilling new/exploiting existing wells, especially those of the government, used to supply Beirut, and especially in the coastal area

Workshop evaluation and comments

All participants underlined the need for new infrastructure for water supply enhancement (mostly river damming and water recycling projects). However, other participants insisted on adopting a global water management scheme that would address the technical, environmental and health, financial and institutional issues at all water management levels and operations.

Several participants stressed the need for closer monitoring of water and environmental quality in the river basin, and that solutions should seek after the long-term preservation of the natural capital and heritage and the development of a "water culture" among water users.

It was further pointed out that due to the political nature of water-related issues in the Basin and in Lebanon, sustainable solutions can only be achieved through strong political commitment and governmental support. In this regard, participants proposed that the outcomes of the INECO Case Study in Lebanon should be  formed as a comprehensive policy proposal, which should be submitted to higher-level policy makers for appropriate action.

More information on the workshop