Aug. 2014—Expanding domestic populations and the influx of refugees from regional conflicts is increasing demand on scarce water resources in Lebanon and across the Middle East. The scarcity is compounded by insufficient and aging infrastructure, which not only fails to adequately deliver clean water to communities, but loses precious water through leaking lines.
Only 46 percent of Lebanese were connected to a public water supply network in 2007, and many Lebanese must get water from private networks, wells, springs, bottled water and water trucks.
Since 2009, USAID’s Lebanon Water and Wastewater Sector Support project has partnered with the country’s Ministry of Energy and Water and Lebanon’s four water establishments. The project, which is scheduled to end in 2015, provides training and technical assistance, and is addressing critical infrastructure needs to improve water and wastewater service delivery to 1 million people.
Starting in May 2013 in the city of Zahle, the Bekaa Valley’s largest urban center, USAID rehabilitated seven water lines to provide access to potable water to thousands of Lebanese citizens. Its water network was reported to be one of the most deteriorated in the country because of aging infrastructure and lack of capital investment. USAID replaced aged and leaky branch network lines, added small extensions to some districts’ pipelines and upgraded some upstream connections, thereby increasing the water supply to these districts and allowing for a larger number of beneficiaries to be served.
“By rehabilitating those seven lines from the Zahle water network, USAID improved the lives of thousands living in the area,” said Maroun Moussallem, director general of the Bekaa Water Establishment (BWE). “Water distribution lines have been in service for 30 to 50 years and suffered from frequent breaks and water service shutdowns.”
USAID’s work on the seven water lines rehabilitated nine miles of the Zahle water network, improving water services for approximately 22,000 people within the Zahle area. USAID also trained technical staff on operation and maintenance of the network, ensuring sustainability of the improvements. The rehabilation work continued through early 2014.
“This project is so important. It’s already resulted in the reduction of water leakages and water supply service disruptions,” explained Moussallem. The project also improved water pressure, allowing water to reach the upper levels of multi-apartment dwellings, therefore decreasing illegal water tapping.
“In addition, the project provided BWE with an opportunity to improve operations, which is resulting in enhanced revenues,” Moussallem said.
These increased revenues have allowed BWE to provide customers better services and reliability, while reducing leakage and maintenance costs. This process should further improve customer bill payments—BWE’s revenue—which will, in turn, lead to continued service improvements and water access for thousands of Lebanon’s citizens.
Last updated: September 22, 2014