The disadvantages of Bisri Dam and successive administrations’ mistakes


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Raja Njeim wrote in the newspaper “Al-Akhbar”:

The project “Increasing Greater Beirut Water Supply”, including the Bisri Dam and securing water from Lake Qaraoun, the spring of Ain Al-Zarqa and the springs of Jezzine, was based on studies carried out at the request of the Council for Development and Reconstruction in cooperation with the World Bank, and it was found that a large part of it is false, incomplete and contradictory, or has been established the demand.

Among the “fatal” flaws of the project, which cause its failure, are related to the hydrological aspect and water quality, yet they were not included by the ministers concerned in the schedule of the dialogue sessions held in the government house the day before yesterday, and those that will be held today. In fact, there are not enough quantities of water in the Bisri river to justify the construction of the dam with its proposed specifications (capacity of its lake is 125 million m3) in order to serve areas like Greater Beirut, i.e. outside its natural path (within Jezzine, Chouf, the province, and Sidon). This is due to climate change and its consequences from early global warming and drought, and its impact on the flow of water to the river during the past thirty years. As it was found that the insurance of the required quantity took place within two years out of every 10 years. Note that the approach to filling such kind of dams is annual, and does not allow storing the lake’s surplus capacity to the next year if it is available.
And in confirmation of the decrease of the incoming water to the Bisri River, in October 2018 an official document was issued by the World Bank, which reduced the quantities of water coming to the Bisri / Awali River, to become a minimum of 60 million cubic meters per year, meaning that the capacity of the dam lake will not exceed 45 million cubic meters (The difference remains to secure the permanence of the Awali River), which means that there is no point in implementing the dam project, and there will not be a net amount of water that can be drawn in favor of Greater Beirut, after deducting the quantities of natural leakage, current evaporation, and permanent obligatory storage, and the differences due to the low volume of storage due to landfills And the pollution, and the quantities required to feed Sidon, Jezzine, and the Karoub region. Without accounting for additional potential leaks or evaporation due to future global warming (according to a 2013 BGR and Ministry of Environment study).
The issuance of such an official document by the World Bank, without a parallel reduction in the surface area of ​​the lake, or the cancellation of the entire project, constitutes a proof of the nullity of the basic decrees related to acquisitions and acceptance of loans and others, especially since most of them were based on a dam project with a capacity of up to 130 million cubic meters, in addition to The production of hydroelectric energy of 12 megawatts (to compensate the losses of the Litani Authority in the production of electricity), but the production of this amount needs at least about 3.9 m3 / s of permanent flowing water, a total of 120 – 125 million m 3 annually … which is a quantity that will not be available every year , By calculating Litani’s interest tables, making permanent energy production impossible.

It is almost impossible to secure any water from Lake Qaraoun to Greater Beirut

From the foregoing, it can be said that it is almost impossible to secure any water from Lake Qaraoun to Greater Beirut, due to the lack of the required amount (50 million m3 / year), in light of the need for it to implement the projects of the Litani Water Authority as long as the incoming water to the lake did not exceed 400 million M 3 / year, or due to its pollution and treatment requires decades to reach solutions to purify it, at a cost exceeding $ 100 per cubic meter of water. Add that it is impossible to treat cyanobacteria by operating the Wardaniah wastewater treatment plant and wastewater or treating the sludge resulting from this process, whatever the approved techniques.
In addition to all the foregoing, the World Bank administration relied to draw water from Qaroun and appointed Zarqa to Greater Beirut to Decree 14522/1970 while its content confirms the opposite, especially as a decision was issued by the Council of Ministers (No. 41/91 dated 03/20/ 1991) who approved the content of the decree. The bottom line is that the Bisri Dam project is bound to fail and is required to be undone and to study alternatives friendly to humans and the environment, instead of holding dialogue sessions.

* Quality specialist, spokesperson for the Marj Basri family and residents committee


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