NNA – A two-year monitoring study in Lebanon’s Shouf Mountains, done in collaboration between the Shouf Biosphere Reserve (SBR) and Nestlé Waters, found the area’s overall groundwater balance to be positive by around 12 million cubic meters per year, and detected high impact stemming from climate change and human activities.
With the rainy season mainly extending from October to April, the “Groundwater assessment of the Shouf Biosphere Reserve-Lebanon” study, implemented by leading water and environmental management consultancy ANTEA Group, also found a need to better manage water resources to avoid droughts caused by significant seasonal shifts in surface water flows in the area’s springs and rivers.
The news was announced at a ceremony in Beirut held under the auspices of Lebanese Minister of Energy and Water Cesar Abi Khalil, in the presence of Justice Minister Selim Jreissati, Mrs. Noura Joumblatt, SBR Committee President Charles Njeim, as well as representatives of the ministries of Health and Environment, and Nestlé global Water Resources Manager Carlo Galli.
“The results are very reassuring as far as groundwater levels in the Shouf are concerned,” said Abi Khalil. “We now look forward to continued collaboration with the private sector and local authorities and institutions, which were pivotal in taking the lead in this initiative, in order to implement the study’s recommended means to ensure sustainable water supply during dry seasons. This initiative is fully in line with the government policy on water basin management.”
“The Shouf Biosphere Reserve is ready to support the implementation of this important initiative without further delay, insisting on establishing a steering committee, as per report recommendation to implement the roadmap, which would include representatives from the ministries of Water & Energy and Agriculture, municipalities, representatives of local agriculture cooperatives, local water authorities, concerned NGOs, the private sector, women groups and others,” said Joumblatt. “This study is undoubtedly a significant step forward in the preservation of our environment and water resources. Without exaggeration, we can easily say we would be preserving life itself.”
“We at Nestlé Waters advocate for effective water stewardship,” concluded Galli. “Our collaboration with the Shouf Biosphere Reserve in Lebanon and local stakeholders is allowing us to create shared value for society, the environment and us, by ensuring integrated water resources management of the watershed.”
The “Groundwater assessment of the Shouf Biosphere Reserve-Lebanon” study is the fruit of a 2015 Memorandum of Understanding between Nestlé Waters and the Shouf Biosphere Reserve.
Launched in 2016, its key objective was to assess the water resources of the area extending over Lebanon’s western mountain chain from Mount Kneisseh in the North, to mount Niha in the South – one of the most plentiful freshwater-generating hotspots in Lebanon and the Middle East.
A basin committee is currently being formed to follow up on the study’s proposed action plan and recommendations.