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Qabbani calls for state of water emergency

  • Qabbani highlighted the need to set water-usage guidelines to protect Lebanon against the extreme shortage expected this summer. (The Daily Star/Mohammad Azakir)

BEIRUT: The head of the parliamentary committee on water, Mohammad Qabbani, called Wednesday for an announcement of a state of water emergency, while announcing measures to confront the shortage.

“[I call for] an announcement of a state of water emergency,” Qabbani said after a meeting with the committee and a number of ministers.

The meeting gathered the Public Works, Transportation, Energy and Water Parliamentary Committee with the Environment, Agriculture, Energy and Tourism ministers, as well as the head of the Higher Relief Committee, Maj. General Mohammad Kheir.

He highlighted the need to set water-usage guidelines to protect Lebanon against the extreme shortage expected this summer.

Among the steps, Qabbani called for “ceasing the irrigation of seasonal crops in return for compensations, and dedicating the available water for domestic use.”

The public water institutions, he added, will take control of privately owned wells and take charge of distributing water to households.

“In August, we will have run out of water and especially in Beirut,” one of the committee’s MPs told The Daily Star.

Qabbani also mentioned the need to save the water used for cleaning public streets and washing cars, especially in gas stations.

The committee also touched on water import, and a suggestion was raised to purchase water from Turkey.

“[We should] try to import water from Turkey,” Qabbani said, “by using enormous plastic balloons that are shipped through the [Mediterranean].”

Lebanon has a severe water shortage crisis after a nearly rainless winter.

Numerous Lebanese families rely on private suppliers for water for both drinking and domestic use, at a cost of around $4 per cubic meter.

In many areas across the country, the water shortage has led the local authorities to regulate supply to a very limited amount, with some villages receiving water only once per week.

 
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