Translation: Yara Berbery
NNA – Reaching 170 Km with more than 16 tributaries, the Litani River is the longest and most abundant river in Lebanon. Its principal source, Nabeh Alaik, is situated in Baalbek and the river crosses the plain of Bekaa from the north to the south, to fall into the Mediterranean in Qasmieh, in the north of Tyre.
The Litani provides irrigation to 80% of agriculture lands in Bekaa and 20% in south Lebanon. Many hydraulic, agriculture, and electric projects flourished on the banks, and the most notorious ones are Qaraoun Lake and dam and Qasmieh project, which irrigates citrus fields and banana trees in Adloun and Tyre. Not to mention Markaba, Al-Awali and Joun, Sinik, Inan Lake projects, as well as irrigation projects in Ras El-Ayn and West Bekaa.
In fact, Al Tibeh water project is under implementation and it will provide potable water to Bent Jbeil and Marjayoun.
Litani is supplied by a number of groundwater sources spread on its banks between Bekaa and the south. Many factories, commerce, and parks were established on the banks to benefit from water.
According to farmers, the river was,in the past, a vast area in times of heavy rain but unfortunately it paid the price of violations. The flood of 1995 pushed authorities to get rid of some violations, but also to cut ancient trees. However, this process was discretionary since the parks resurfaced, reducing the width of the river and threatening the surrounding orchards.
Unfortunately, newspapers headlines highlighted in the last few months the pollution of Litani and its speed decline. This is due to several reasons, notably the population density on the banks of the river and the uncontrolled factories that discharge their waste.
The factor of population density was reduced in southern Lebanon and southern Bekaa, but the river’s pollution resulted in this area from cafes and parks, still uncontrolled and violating the sanitary standards.
The sewers of Tyre, Nabatieh, and Bent Jbeil that drain in the river through valleys and streams, contribute in pollution despite measures taken by municipalities.
As for the speed decline, it resulted from artesian aquifers which caused the drying up of many local sources as well as private irrigation projects, not to mention the lower percentage of annual rainfall.
“We raised our voice to warn off the dangers threatening Litani River. We mourn the river during summer and watch its water flow into the sea during winter while we can build small dams, lakes, and artificial ponds,” said the President of the Union of Tyre Municipalities, Abdulmuhsin Al Hussaini.
Litani represents an object of desire for the Zionist enemy because it is a lifeline for citizens in the region. It allowed people to resist the enemy when it invaded Lebanon in 1978. During this offensive, dubbed “Operation Litani,” the enemy wanted to draw a new frontier for the State at the expense of the Southern-Lebanon inhabitants.
Litani is a vital but neglected river. It suffers from violations and ambitions. Who could therefore save it from pollution to allow Lebanon enjoy its wealth throughout the year?