Water is the most essential resource for life.
With the increased pressure on ecosystems and natural resources, water resources management is becoming one of the most important challenges the world is facing. The demand for water resources of sufficient quantity and quality for human consumption, sanitation, agricultural irrigation, and manufacturing will continue to intensify as populations increase and as global urbanization, industrialization, and commercial developments accelerate (Flint and Houser, 2001).
In Lebanon, water resources are under great stress due to the cumulative problems facing the sector at all levels such as: legislative, institutional, technical, and financial. Accordingly, both civic society and government bodies must work in a collaborative approach to protect Lebanon’s natural wealth.
Lebanon, although seemingly abundant with water resources, is heading rapidly towards a water crisis. The rapid population growth, the socio-economic development, the increased uncontrolled urbanization, the industrial and agricultural activities, adding to that the current ineffective management practices, the fragmented institutional arrangements, and the lack of appropriate legislation, are all factors that put huge pressure on Lebanon’s water resources.
Unless drastic changes are undertaken in the near future at all levels, Lebanon is poised to experience a water deficit. This will be compounded with the climate change impending consequences which are expected to further add stress to water resources in the region and the country.
More specifically, the challenges facing the water sector in Lebanon are at three levels: Governmental, Institutional and Technical, and can be summarized as follows (Blue Gold 2012):
- Weak central oversight and coordination over the water sector
- Inadequate regulatory framework constraining the promotion of sustainable water management
- Absence of initiatives to optimize the permanent increase in water need
- Political and individual conflicts of interest which are hindering decision making
- Lack of trust in the public establishments by end-users
- Inability to enforce laws
- The utilities do not have sufficient capacity and lack information about water resources, sector performance & assets
- Lack of coordination/alignment between various stakeholders
- Overlapping of responsibilities between the authorities
- Lack of trained and qualified employees
- Level of service is weak (50% unaccounted for losses)
- Low collection percentage and high cost base
- Uneven distribution of players
- Low utilization of surface water (1200 MCM losses into the sea) combined with high technical losses
- Zero reuse of treated water in irrigation and industrial purposes
- Misuse of groundwater (spontaneous and excessive withdrawal, mainly used for irrigation purposes)
- Drawdown of water resources
- Progressive Sea water intrusion
- No artificial recharge
- Pollution of water resources
BLUE GOLD Plan
To face this challenging situation, and taking into consideration the current Government National Water Sector Strategy, the Civic Influence Hub (CIH), which is an influence group of the Lebanese civil society, has developed BLUE GOLD plan to enhance the Government plan, and set an overall goal to meet water demand by 2020 and gaining additional 500 MCM water surplus at a cost of USD 5 Bn.
Based on the principle of people’s right to water, the BLUE GOLD
plan promotes disruptive measures that ensure sharing of water resources nationwide, reforming the water sector management, transforming water from a commodity to a national wealth, creating platform for public-private partnership, enforcing water laws, promoting sustainable use of water and conserving freshwater eco-systems.
In line with its general concept, BLUE GOLD
sets an overall goal to meet water demand by 2020 and gaining additional 500 MCM water surplus at a cost of USD 5 Bn to be achieved through four specific objectives:
- Increasing water supply
- Optimizing water demand
- Ensuring up-to-standard water quality
- Improving the water management efficiency
In order to achieve that, different initiatives have to be implemented at both national and local levels involving all concerned stakeholders.
BLUE GOLD proposed 40 initiatives based on work conducted with water experts, that meet the 4 main objectives of Blue Gold: Increase water supply (13 initiatives), optimize water demand (7 initiatives), ensure up-to-standard water quality (6 initiatives), and improve water management efficiency (14 initiatives).
As illustrated in the section under raw water, The current deficit in Lebanon is around 73 MCM. This is due to the lack of sufficient infrastructural facilities and proper institutional organizations.
If no action is taken to control the inevitable increase in water demand, the deficit in 2020 is estimated to be more than 10 folds the current deficit. The population in Lebanon is largely increasing and the escalating demand is estimated to further stretch the existing deficit flourishing from the disparity between demand and supply.
Assuming a constant supply of water resources coupled with an indifferent approach to optimize demand and improve quality and management, the deficit in 2020 is projected to stand at 876 MCM. Agricultural demand will account for 380 MCM, while domestic and industrial demand will account for 315 and 108 MCM respectively. Domestic demand is estimated to increase at 5% per annum while agricultural demand at only 3%. As a result, it is vital to primarily control domestic demand in the near future and formulate solutions to optimize it.
As a consequence, demand side and supply side levers have been proposed to cover the projected deficit in 2020 and provide a surplus of water for future uses, such as export to other countries in exchange for money or other commodities.
The execution of supply and demand initiatives will produce around 1.4 Bn m3, while the government is only planning to meet the projected deficit of 876 MCM.
The supply side levers combined with demand side levers produce around 1.4 Bn m3. Out of the 1.4 Bn m3, 876 MCM are used to cover the projected deficit in 2020 and the remaining amount of 500 MCM is added as surplus.
The figure below depicts a breakdown on the quantities established from demand and supply levers. The total amount of 1,110 MCM is achieved from the aggregation of 8 supply levers. Similarly, the total of 360 MCM is attained from the addition of 5 demand side levers.
The cost of these initiatives is 3.275 Bn USD.
also proposes a wastewater treatment solution at half the cost of the NWSS of 1.8 Bn USD and that can reach the third treatment level.
waste water initiative involves finding wastewater treatment solutions at the basins level with the various water users is an essential element to improve the water quality in the river. As such, the proposed initiative will target PSPs including the SMEs (Small and Medium size Enterprises) and Water Users Association located all along river basins and engages them in developing and implementing wastewater treatment projects at the local level within the IWRM context that includes policy-making, planning, production, distribution, monitoring and controlling. The development of this initiative was done based on a new technology used in some countries such as India and also patented by a Lebanese young scientist (Jules Hatem
Sewage Treatment Plant (STP) include the following components:
Benefits of SBR / CASP Technology use are:
- Primary Treatment, it consists of screen chamber and grit chamber. Screen chamber removes inorganic materials like paper, pouch, other floating particles etc. Grit Chamber removes particles of sand, ash, clinkers, egg shells, bone chips and inert materials etc.
- Secondary Treatment, it consists of biological process, which is the heart of the sewage treatment plant, by this treatment BOD, COD and TSS are removed.
- Disinfection Treatment, it consists of chlorination, UV Treatment or other units for disinfection purpose.
- Sludge Disposal Unit, it consists of either conventional sludge drying beds or mechanical unit, it does dewatering from sludge (sludge is a by-product in biological treatment)
- Low capital and operating cost, excellent potential of lesser payback period: SBR requires the low investment and operating costs as compared to any other technology, when compared on basis of outlet characteristics, material of construction, land required and power consumed; with any other type of technology.
- 50 % Power reduction in power consumption: almost 50% power consumption in this Technology as compared to any other technology providing such outlet quality of water.
- 50 % Reduction in land requirements: land is valuable for urban area, this technology uses less land area compared to other conventional technologies, as it has compact units of treatment. E.g.in New Mumbai, they have reduced the land requirement to 5 ha by adopting SBR Technology instead of 9 ha required for conventional treatment technology.
- 50 % Reduction in man-power: this technology is automatically operated and computer controlled. It does not require constant operator attention. Such level of plant automation requires very few skilled persons per plant after providing them detailed training of plant operation.
- Reduction in maintenance cost: in this technology all underwater metal parts are used made of stainless steel and decanter has no moving parts. Such feature results as much higher plant life and law maintenance cost.
- Process Design to meet norms for reuse of treated water: Treated water quality (BOD<5,COD<50, SS<10, N & P removal) is such that recycled water can be used for non-potable uses like horticulture, green belt development, industrial applications, gardening, toilet flushing etc. This technology produces completely digested and odorless sludge which can be used as manure.
- N & P removal: This technology offers in built co-current nitrification, de-nitrification and bio phosphorous removal mechanism that differentiate it from other technologies. In built Nitrogen/Phosphorous removal to prevent treated water from algae and other contamination, which provides solution for recycled water use in lake or pond development. It also has special ability to handle extremely high organic and hydraulic shock loads.
- Proven Reliability: More than 600 facilities are now in operation in Municipalities and Industries throughout the world including in India and processing flows ranging from 40 KLD to 520 MLD of STP size. Even 1.35 MLD to 100 MLD plants are in operating conditions in Indian Municipalities like in state of Goa, Maharashtra etc., even this technology is being considered for upcoming STPs in PPP mode (Blue Gold 2012).
Each plant has a capacity of 4 MLD (million liter per day) i.e. an average of 40, 000 people. The cost of each unit is 1.25 MUSD. In Lebanon we need 100 plants to cover the need however the geography of the country necessities the need of 300 plant i.e. 375 MUSD.
Cost of plant 375 MUSD
Cost of distribution network 1400 MUSD
Total 1775 MUSD
Blue Gold has introduced several technical solutions that will improve the NWSS but this is not enough. It is required to revolutionize the management of the water sector to apply the above initiatives.
This will take place after solving the two roadblock of the water sector: the lack of visionary decision making and the lack of financial resources.
Accordingly, Blue Gold proposes an initiative that tackles the legal reform required to improve the management of the water sector in Lebanon through the initiation of a National Water Council, a Water Regulatory Authority, Water Users Associations and a Watch Dog Association from the civic society. This type of organization is shown in figure below.
NATIONAL WATER COUNCIL-NWC
National Water Council is a group of stakeholder from the Government and the Civic Society. Its role is to manage the water sector in a sustainable and optimized manner, apart from political hindering.
National Water Council - Target
Establish an independent NWC involving stakeholders from the Government and the Civic Society to:
National water Council - Benefits
- Develop the water vision, strategy, policy and master plan
- Set priorities to reach the general objectives in the water sector
- Approve new water related laws and regulations
- Approve all national and regional projects related to organizing and distributing water
- Follow-up the implementation of relative conventions and protocols
- Coordinate among different concerned ministries
Water Regulatory Authority
Establish the Water Regulatory Authority involving all concerned entities from the Government and the Civic Society to:
- A national water strategy is developed and implemented with the participation of all concerned stakeholders
- New laws and regulations are developed to meet the changing needs in the water sector
- Access to water information is available for everyone
- Water tariffs are regulated
- Private Sector is involved as partner and service provider in the water sector
- New investment opportunities are created for all citizens in the water sector
Water Users Associations
Establish Water Users Associations from civic society at the local level to:
- Ensure the continuous and reliable delivery of water, wastewater services
- Regulate and supervise the government-owned and private companies that provide these services to ensure high-quality delivery and continuously improving standards
- Propose new water related laws and regulations to the NWC
- Propose new water tariffs
- Report to the NWC
Watch Dog Association
Establish a Watch Dog Association from the civic society to:
- Supervise the management of public water especially in the agriculture sector
- Achieve, maintain, exploit and execute of repairing works and extension that will be beneficial for the scheme
- Distribute equally the irrigation water between the members
- Set tariffs according to exploitation and maintenance cost
- Collect the fees
- Refer to when conflicts emerges between members or between members and non-members
- Protect the water quality
- Follow-up and monitor all projects and actions undertaken in the water sector in Lebanon
- Lobby with the Government and other concerned stakeholders to empower the implementation of water strategies and laws and regulations
- Protect people's right for water
Water is the pinnacle of the resources in Lebanon; however the water sector is facing many challenges. The government is proposing a plan to resolve these challenges but the solution is not rolling because of two major roadblock: the lack of visionary decision making and the financial resources.
plan proposes a complete solution to the water sector problem that shows superiority over the NWSS as it presents better technical solution through introducing the use of demand management and the interconnection between network to reduce the number of dams and the cost of solutions. Moreover, a better solution from waste water treatment is proposed at half cost and quarter the apex. Finally, the concept of introducing the civic society to help the government managing the water sector is developed through the initiation of National Water Council that ensures sustainable plan for water sector and provide the platform for public-private-citizen partnership to secure financial resources.
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