Litani River Basin Management Support Project (LRBMS)
The Litani River Basin suffers the fate of many river basins around the world: increasing demands compete for limited natural resources. Groundwater over-exploitation, deforestation and overgrazing, unplanned urban sprawl, untreated wastewater effluents, and unsustainable agricultural practices contribute to environmental degradation in the form of declining water and soil quality. Solutions do exist to reverse these trends and establish sustainable management practices. The key to successfully implementing such solutions requires applying the principles of Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) through a single river basin authority rather than multiple agencies responsible for different aspects of water management as is the case in many countries. The existence of the Litani River Authority (LRA) provides a unique platform to become such an IWRM river basin authority that will mobilize stakeholders in the river basin and address these challenges in an integrated manner. Successful implementation of LRBMS prepared the LRA to assume the role of an integrated river basin authority when legal constraints are removed.
The concept of basin management here included not only management at the macro scale, but also the delivery of water services to basin users. The project was designed specifically to improving water services for all while at the same time, the LRA has responsibilities for both for irrigation service delivery in basin canal commands and for water resource management at the basin level. Some of the most critical issues facing the basin are resource-level issues such as surface water quality degradation and ground water over drafting.
The LRBMS program was part of USAID’s increasing support to the water sector in Lebanon. The purpose of the LRBMS Program was to set the ground for improved, more efficient and sustainable management of the Litani river basin through provision of technical support to the Litani River Authority and implementation of limited small scale infrastructure activities.
The projects objectives were:
- Building Capacity of LRA towards Integrated River Basin Management (IRBM)
- Long Term Water Quality Monitoring of the Litani River
- Integrated Irrigation Management which will be implemented under two components:
- a. Participatory Agriculture Extension Program: implemented under a Pilot Area: West Bekaa Irrigation Management Project
- b. Machghara Plain Irrigation Plan
- Improving Litani River and Qaraoun Dam Monitoring System which will be implemented under two components:
- Litani Qaraoun Dam Monitoring System
- Litani River Flood Management Model
- Improved water governance
- Improved operations of the Litani River Authority
- Development of knowledge and awareness for water users
- Upgraded and optimized Canal 900, the main strategic physical irrigation asset managed by the LRA. The canal is the only pressurized, and therefore water-efficient, system in Lebanon. The canal, which had a capacity to serve 2,000 ha, was only serving 600 ha due to faulty design and construction. As a result of LRBMS work, the canal now serves an additional 700 ha cultivated by 100 farmers.
- Improved monitoring and emergency response capacity at the Qaraoun Dam to increase the LRA’s resilience in case of dam failure.
- Supported the design and construction of a new irrigation pipeline serving the municipality of Machghara. In addition to supporting the technical aspects of water infrastructure design and construction, LRBMS assisted LRA in using a participatory approach to the development of water infrastructure, by facilitating public meetings between LRA and local stakeholders during the planning process.