Energy and Water Minister Cesar Abi Khalil said Wednesday that the Greater Beirut Water Supply Augmentation Project would be at least partially operational by early 2018. The project will ideally be functional in the Chouf town of Joun in February, Abi Khalil said, during an inspection visit to one of the project’s sites. Once finished, it will “demonstrate the great work of the Lebanese state,” he said on Twitter.
The project includes damming the Bisri River in Jezzine, and constructing a tunnel to transport the water to areas in Greater Beirut.
Abi Khalil, accompanied by the head of the Council for Development and Reconstruction Nabil Jisr and a team of specialists, visited the entrance of the water tunnel in the Chouf town of Damour.
“We inspected the first water project, and we were in one of the tunnels that will be carrying this water. The total length [of the tunnel] is 24 km,” Abi Khalil said.
The National Strategy for the Water Sector is based on the storage of surface water in dams and the distribution of this water for usage.
“All of our surface water must be utilized efficiently, which will lessen our dependence on the artesian wells that have been drying up,” he added.
The draft decree for the project was issued in the 1970s and revived in 2010 after Gebran Bassil, the current foreign minister and then-energy and water minister, signed off on the initiative. The project aims to overcome increasingly severe shortages in the public water supply.
“Hopefully by 2019 we’ll reap the rewards of the project and secure more than 750,000 cubic meters per dam,” Abi Khalil said.