Water demand spikes amid heatwave

The extremely hot weather hitting the country recently has resulted in a significant increase in water usage at the household and commercial level.
by Lynn Hariri

10 July 2017 | 13:29

Source: by Annahar

  • by Lynn Hariri
  • Source: Annahar
  • Last update: 10 July 2017 | 13:29

A picture showing the back of a water transport truck. (Annahar Photo)

BEIRUT: Water deliveries to households are spiking this time of year compelling residents to deal with what is a yearly concern when warm weather comes along.

Neighborhoods across the capital are scrambling to find solutions as the extremely hot weather hitting the country has resulted in a significant increase in water usage at the household and commercial level. 

Many stories are passed around of Lebanese people having to go to cabins or hairdresser salons to wash their hair, even soaking themselves with bottled water was an option, due to the deficiency of water supplies.

Nathalie Safa, a Hamra resident, complained that the water supply in her apartment was almost non-existent from the municipal lines, requiring frequent filling of her tank from a water truck. “Imagine walking into the shower, lathering the first squirt of shampoo on your hair, only to realize there is no more water to rinse it away!” she told Annahar.

What happened next quickly had a turn of comedy, but a quick fix managed to occur, “I had to get a drinking water gallon delivered to my apartment from our neighborhood’s mini market, which made me wish I spent the 50 dollars at my hairdresser.”

A water expert, Bilal Jouneh, believes that the population has significantly increased in the last three years and the inadequacy of governmental institutions is one of the dominant reasons for this shortage in municipal supplies.

“There is no clear water policy in the region, whereas the demand for water is expanding gradually,” he said. 

Zeina Chamesedine, a student at the American University of Beirut (AUB), living in Clemenceau always had a portable solution to saving water. “We have a tank or two, but still it’s not enough and we can’t afford to pay 20 dollars twice a week to refill our tanks,” she said noting happily, “Thank God I have the mountains to escape to every summer.”

While some have the luxury of a mountain, others are anguishing heavily from water scarcity.

Mohamad Nasser, who resides on Bliss Street with his roommate, explained that it’s absolutely a legitimate fear and viscous cycle. “I cannot remember a single summer without the news presenter reminding us of our water shortages; it is the commodity of private business that feeds people,” Nasser told Annahar.

George, a water transporter in Achrafieh who chose to remain anonymous, noted that June through October is the busiest months in the water business. “Ten dollars is the terminal fee of filling one tank,” Adding that, “the summer season just started and we don’t see any movement adventuring now.”

During last winter, rainfall was 767 millimeters in Beirut in January, lower than the yearly average of 812 millimeters for the area, according to the Rafik Hariri International Airport’s meteorological department. Although rainfall levels were not as low over the previous winter as they have been in the years of 2014-2015 which had less than half of the expected rainfall.

It is expected that by the year 2020-2035 monthly precipitation in December and January will drop down to 49 and 48 millimeters in Lebanon, which will cause a water stress throughout the country in the near future, according to a report by the World Bank. 

Throughout Beirut’s southern suburb, residential wells are drying up frequently and households have long since started using water companies, according to a number of residents that voiced their concern over the issue.

“Here in Dahieh we pay 20 dollars a week to fill our water tanks; thus we don’t rely on receiving water from the government but investing constantly in summer and winter,” said Souraya Idris, a resident of the neighborhood.

In August 2016, engineers and architects in cooperation with Association of Ibrahim Abdel Aal (AFIAL) and International Commission on large Dams (ICOLD), Khaled Shehab, the head of the Lebanese engineering body commented that, “there had been a good administration plan of water resources via a scientific and practical approach, Lebanon would not only be water sufficient, but we have a chance to export too.”

Ali, a water transporter who also chose to remain anonymous noted that “So far from now, it’s a calm season, and if the weather continues to be warm with a soaring 80 percent humidity we definitely wait for countless water shortages across the community.”

Water scarcity has long been a central concern in Lebanon, sustained by a lack of precipitation, and the paucity of effort by governmental institutions to work towards water preservation. 

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