BEIRUT: As Lebanon comes to terms with sporadic power supplies and government corruption, another crisis is looming on the horizon - water shortages by 2035.
According to a recent study conducted by Fransabank, Lebanon is facing a water deficit of up to 610 million cubic meters by the year 2035 as growing demand and a stagnant supply come into play.
Although Lebanon currently enjoys 2.7 billion cubic meters of water, distributed between underground (0.5 billion) and surface (2.2 billion) reserves, a mere 1.6 billion cubic meters is being extracted at the moment.
The total amount of available water stands at 4.7 billion cubic meters, yet 1 billion cubic meters cross the Lebanese borders and 0.4 billion enter the sea, which highlights the need for further dam constructions in order to increase retention.
The study indicates that demand for water is expected to rise to 1.8 billion by 2035, up from 1.5 billion in 2015, thus spawning the 610 million cubic meter deficit.
Freshwater withdrawals are expected to exceed precipitation, which coupled with the fact that around 65 percent of all natural resources are affected by bacterial contamination, gives ample reason for concern.
Water shortages are a global problem, as communities worldwide are expected to face water shortages. By 2025, more than half the world's nations will face freshwater stress or shortages and up to 75 percent of the world's population could be confronted with freshwater scarcity.
This has forced governments to rethink how they value, use, and manage water resources, as economic development and prosperity hinges on the availability of water.
All sectors within a society require large quantities of water to function, including agriculture and energy production and generation, making water scarcity a frightening outcome.
The most alarming development, however, is the possible peril of drinking water supplies.
Both climate change and government ineptitude have played a role in Lebanon's water dilemma, with the study pointing to outdated water legislation and non-existent enforcement mechanisms, as well as the fragmented water institutions and the lack of coordination between them.
Also, the lack of adequate funding and investment in the water sector and the absence of an autonomous regulatory agency have had an adverse effect on the sustainability of Lebanon's water supply.
The answer to this problem is not a simple one according to the study, which underscores the need to transform the current government-owned water institutions into private businesses that can be properly managed while also formulating integrated and comprehensive strategies and policies for the efficient management of water resources both from the aspect of supply and demand.
The study also suggests increasing the number of dams in order to store more water and reduce its waste.
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