BEIRUT: Lebanon has ruled out a plan to import water from Turkey to alleviate its shortage, resorting to dig more wells instead and siphon groundwater, Deputy Prime Minister Samir Moqbel said Thursday.
“Following a thorough discussion of the study prepared by Water and Energy Minister Arthur Nazarian, it was agreed that for the time being we will be dealing with water shortages by digging wells,” Moqbel said after chairing ministerial committee meeting tasked with finding solutions to the crisis, the worst in decades.
The minister said work has started on a number of wells, and that more will be dug once the geological studies are done to identify the appropriate areas to extract groundwater.
“We also agreed on the need to follow up on the implementation of water-saving projects, including building dams and lakes as mid- and long-term solutions,” Moqbel said at the Grand Serail.
“What has been circulated in the media about importing water was ruled out,” Moqbel added.
Nazarian told The Daily Star that the plan to import water from Turkey had never been seriously considered in the first place.
“There was never any study, no data, no cost, we don’t know if the water is clean, or if it’s river water,” he explained.
Nazarian said that according to information made available to him by the Water Authority for Beirut and Mount Lebanon, Lebanon was currently facing a shortage of 100,000 cubic meters of water.
“Of course there is a shortage, and we know this,” he said, adding that the committee has been meeting with geologists for the past week to determine which locations were best to access water, and echoed Moqbel’s comments in stating that work on the wells began approximately a month ago.
It is estimated that the wells will produce approximately 40,000 to 50,000 cubic meters of water, he told The Daily Star. However, he acknowledged that there was a possibility that that the wells would not extract enough.
“We need to try to pass this phase, even if with difficulty,” Nazarian stressed.
“We need to pass it with our own capabilities before depending on others’ capabilities.”
“It is shameful that we, Lebanon, are looking for water abroad.”
Nazarian said that another meeting is expected to take place next week to discuss the possible results of the wells. He also stressed that the country needed to stop wasting water, and both the government and Lebanese citizens needed to contribute to water conservation.
Lebanon is struggling with one of the worst water shortages in recent memory following an unusually dry winter, exacerbated by the influx of over 1.1 million Syrian refugees.