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Über dieses Buch

This book presents a collection of chapters covering research on the Litani River Basin. The Litani River Basin occupies about a quarter of Lebanon's surface area, and it has recently been subject to severe geo-environmental conditions such as water contamination and decreased discharge. This motivated the Lebanese government to take action and start working on the remediation of the river. These actions are also supported by international organizations including the World Bank.



Chapter 1. Introduction

Litani River, the largest water resource in Lebanon, connects Lebanese regions with different physiographic characteristics, such as mountains and plains, and spans from the interior to the coastal zone of the country. In addition, Litani River occupies the Qaraaoun Reservoir, the largest of its type in Lebanon, with a capacity of about 220 million m3. The river is an optimal nexus of water, agriculture, and energy. However, it has lately become a geo-environmental issue with certain challenges creating a severe impact on the water quality and quantity. It is a paradox that although several studies, projects, and researches have been conducted on the river and its basin to enhance its status, deterioration was still exacerbated. Recently, a national plan for the Litani River was prepared by the Lebanese government to mitigate the existing physical and anthropogenic stresses on the river water and to reduce its harmful effects on human health. This chapter aims to highlight the principal elements concerning the river and its status. It also introduces the other chapters in this book.
Amin Shaban, Mouin Hamzé

Chapter 2. Historical Background on the Litani River

This chapter traces the emergence and interventions of the Litani River Authority (LRA) as the main agent of development of the Litani River. Notwithstanding the numerous problems that the LRA faces today—including the unclear division of responsibilities in the sector, administrative weaknesses and a long list of shortcomings it has in common with the Lebanese administration—it remains an institution with a long history, a vision, and the potential to address the ecological crises of the Litani River. After a brief overview of the history of LRA, this chapter lays out a broad framework for action that should allow the LRA to step up to the developmental challenges faced in the Litani River Basin (LRB), and Lebanon in general, as well as overcome its own administrative shortcomings to improve its efficiency.
Iman Abd El Al

Chapter 3. Physical Characteristics and Water Resources of the Litani River Basin

Litani River, with a 2110-km2 catchment area (about 20% of Lebanon) and a 174-km length, releases an average annual discharge of about 385 mm3/year. The river in its northern part flattens between the Mount-Lebanon and Anti-Lebanon mountain chains, thereby spanning between several mountain ridges in the southern part. Consequent streams are connected to its primary watercourse. The Litani River Basin (LRB) comprises an elongated catchment where it gently slopes from the north Bekaa Plain extending southward where it meanders westward to outlets into the Mediterranean Sea. Therefore, the river transits into the inner and coastal zones of Lebanon comprising two major drainage systems (described as the Upper and Lower Basins) occupied into one watershed. The Qaraaoun Reservoir, the largest of its type in Lebanon (about 12 km2), is located in the southern part of the Upper Basin. Before 1959, the site of the reservoir comprised a natural depression. However, when large volumes of water started to accumulate there, a dam was built. Snow has a significant contribution to feeding the river. The extension of the Litani River among the carbonate rocks and alluvial deposits makes it an open hydrogeological system that is fed from and feeds on the permeable and porous lithologies. This chapter introduces the major physical characteristics of the Litani River including the catchment and drainage properties as well as the water resources and land cover.
Amin Shaban, Ghaleb Faour, Mohammad Awad

Chapter 4. The Physical, and Chemical and Microbial Characteristics of Litani River Water

The major physiochemical and microbiological properties of water were analyzed from 13 representative sites along the Litani River tributaries. The results indicated significant levels of pollution in many of the investigated sites. This has been observed in the upper and lower basins of the Litani River. Although some physiochemical variables were within the WHO and Libnor norms, there still remains severe contamination in the river water. Coliform and all genres of bacteria are highly and positively present in the investigated sites indicating unacceptable pollution input from untreated sewage outfall directly into the river. In addition, there is a high nitrite ratio beyond the permitted global range. Increased cadmium and iron contents were found, which also revealed a risky aspect of contamination. Physical variables also showed metal particles in the river water, and microbial and chemical contamination was visible in all sites. It can be concluded that the measured variables are indicative for water-quality assessment. The urgent mitigation of wastewater dumping into the river is highly recommended.
Nada Nehme, Chaden Haidar

Chapter 5. Evaluation of the Physicochemical and Environmental Status of Qaraaoun Reservoir

Qaraaoun Reservoir, the largest freshwater body in Lebanon, is a vital organ for the Bekaa region. It is used for hydropower generation, fishing, crop irrigation, and tourist activities. In this chapter, we assess the evolution of its physico-chemical and ecological status and compare it with the results of previous studies. The lake, which is considered as monomictic, stratifies in spring and summer providing different physico-chemical compositions at different depths. The trophic state of the lake has not witnessed any improvements in the last 10 years. Its phytoplankton community has low biodiversity and is dominated by toxic cyanobacterial blooms Microcystis aeruginosa and Aphanizomenon ovalisporum. Due to these toxic blooms, using its water for swimming and drinking should be avoided under the present conditions. For safe use of its water, an effective management at the level of its watershed is highly recommended to improve water quality.
Ali Fadel, Kamal Slim

Chapter 6. Groundwater Quality in the Upper Litani River Basin

Groundwater in the Upper Litani River Basin (ULRB) has in recent years become highly vulnerable to contamination, thus impacting socioeconomic development and community resilience in the basin. Drivers—such as anthropogenic pressures, high infiltration of karstic aquifer features, and climatic changes—are the causes of extensive stress on this important resource. Although unsustainable agricultural practices still have the most widespread impact on groundwater quality, wastewater and solid waste (SW) disposal from urbanized agglomerations and industrial enterprises have increasingly become serious sources of pollution. In the absence of comprehensive long-term monitoring programs, the findings of several projects and studies have recorded high nitrate, total dissolved solids, and fecal coliform levels exceeding standard limits for drinking water and irrigation purposes in different zones across the basin. Although the concentrations of some heavy metals may be still too low to generate acute adverse health impacts, their effects may become serious in the near future given the sudden increase in population due the surge of Syrian refugees into the basin and the changing climatic conditions. Specifically, the nitrate level, which exceeds the suitability limits for irrigation, currently stands as a major concern and may cause economic and productivity losses, especially with low levels of farmer extension services and poor agricultural practices. Supported by international-development programs, noteworthy national efforts have been initiated to enhance basin management. However, political conflicts, unclear institutional responsibilities, and economic challenges may impede effective implementation. This review calls for a long-term monitoring of groundwater quality and addresses the need to consider groundwater quality as an integral component for the management of water resources of the basin.
Nabil Amacha, Safaa Baydoun

Chapter 7. Improving Water-Use Efficiency and Productivity in the Litani River Basin

The Litani River Basin (LRB), with special emphasis on the upper part of the basin, occupies the largest area of arable land in Lebanon where agriculture is dominant. However, like many Lebanese regions, the upper part of the LRB suffers from water deficiency, and at the same time, the need for irrigation water is quite pronounced. The irrigation and the related aspects of water consumption in the area of concern follows many traditional and advanced techniques where a large part of the irrigated water is not used efficiently. This, in turn, affects water productivity, which affects crop yield. In this area of study, many institutes are concerned with improving the water-use efficiency and productivity, most notably in the irrigation systems. The Lebanese Agriculture Research Center (LARI) has applied several advanced techniques and applications in this respect. Therefore, results on water use and productivity are improving by using the new techniques provided by LARI to alert framers about meteorological forecasts and extending periodical instructions and awareness. This chapter reveals examples of these techniques and proposes new applications to be used in the LRB for better water use and crop yield.
Ihab Jomaa, Amin Shaban

Chapter 8. Assessment of the Sustainability of Water Resources in the Litani River Basin

Litani River has become the most significant geo-environmental issue in Lebanon. It occupies concerns at different levels including those of inhabitant decision makers. Yet, the problem is worsening, and many challenges hinder progress in conserving the river water as well as human health. It is an alarming situation and time to take the most appropriate and efficient actions to attain the sustainability of the water resources in the river, which include water quantity and quality. Four salient conditions describe the major challenges in the Litani River Basin (LRB): water scarcity, population growth (natural and refugee influx), rapid urban sprawl, and poor water governance. In this study, an empirical analysis has been elaborated comparing the existing challenges with the requirements for water sustainability. It implies and indicates water availability, environment, and water governance. The calculated Water-Resources Sustainability Index shows poor sustainability of water resources in the LRB, thus indicating an urgent need to embark on a series of actions to ameliorate this poor status.
Nadim Farajalla, Yasmina El Amine, Amin Shaban

Chapter 9. The National Plan for Litani River Remediation

Analysis of the state of water-quality deterioration and land degradation in the Litani River Basin (LRB) and the governmental response is elaborated in this chapter. This is based on the projects and programs run in the basin starting from the mid-1990. Results of the assessment showed that the main sources of contamination in the basin imply a chaotic urban expansion with resulting loss of arable lands and pressure on water resources in terms of both quantitative and qualitative aspects. Dumping of domestic sewage into streams caused significant bacteriological contamination. A dangerous disposal of liquid and solid waste, including industrial and municipal waste, was observed, which put an increasing pressure on the chemical contamination of surface waters. The LRB represents the most intensive agricultural areas of the country, and thus poor agricultural practices result in the excess use of chemicals and accumulation of nitrates and soluble pollutants in the soil–water ecosystem. Several national and international projects have been tackling water pollution and ecosystem management of the LRB since the early 1990s as pure scientific interests, non-sustainable follow-up, and use of outputs and tools for the protection and monitoring of water quality in the basin. In 2006, an inter-ministerial committee recommended the elaboration of a business plan to identify the measures and alleviate the pollution in the Litani River and the Qaraaoun Reservoir. In 2012, the Lebanese government established a national multi-ministerial committee for depollution of the watershed led by the Ministry of Environment. The final business plan for combating pollution in the Qaraaoun Reservoir, elaborated by the United Nations Development Program, was adopted in 2013. In 2014, a committee was established to supervise the implementation of a road map for the remediation of the Qaraaoun Reservoir. In 2016, a loan of US$55 million was provided by the World Bank for the implementation of the approved plan.
Talal Darwich, Amin Shaban, Mouin Hamzé

Chapter 10. Conclusion and Discussion

It is obvious that the Litani River has been given more attention than the other water resources in Lebanon. Issues on both the individual and institutional levels have been raised since the 1950s aiming to conserve the river water and make it a substantial component for the Lebanese economy and development.
Mouin Hamzé, Amin Shaban


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