HARIRI clarifies his position on the Bisri Dam
30 Jul 2020
Lebanon - Concerning the reactions and ongoing campaigns on social media on the position of former Prime Minister Saad Hariri regarding the construction of the Bisri dam, his press office notes the following:
1- Former Prime Minister Hariri's position on the construction of the Bisri dam is not new. The governments that he headed accompanied the studies that were prepared about the dam for many
years and agreed on them, and it would be illogical for him, after leaving office, to object to something he previously agreed on, especially after the approval of the project in Parliament.
2- The project, according to the scientific studies and the data announced, solves a chronic problem of water shortage in the Beirut, the northern and southern coast of Metn, the coastal towns of Baabda and Chouf, as well as the geographic surrounding of the dam. The number of beneficiaries reaches one million and six hundred thousand citizens and this in itself cannot be overlooked in light of the water crises in the capital and regions.
3- The World Bank is requesting a renewed debate on the economic and social feasibility of the project, which is a good thing that must happen, for the sake of public interest and not for the sake of environmental assumptions and political tensions.
4- Cancelling the establishment of the project requires a new law in Parliament that abolishes the law in effect. It also creates losses for the state’s treasury as a result of the expropriations that have been completed so far. A sum of 156 million dollars has been paid, which should not be overlooked.
5 - It is necessary to scrutinize scientifically and seek the help of specialists, to clarify the reports and news that mention geological and environmental risks that may result from building the dam, and to stop using this matter in mutual campaigns.
The position of the World Bank is pivotal in this regard, and we attach importance to the ongoing consultations with it and the expertise of the specialists, whatever the results.
6- Alternatives were studied to increase the water supply for the Greater Beirut region, which include a comparison of dam construction in other locations and other options such as desalination of sea water, extraction of groundwater, rainwater harvesting, or reuse of wastewater and controlling squander. This study concluded that, given its size and economic feasibility and all the technical factors, the Bisri dam is considered a priority option, as securing the same amount of water provided by it, that is 125 million cubic meters annually, requires drilling about 200 wells, which is not useful, given the high costs of investment and operation, which amount between 40 and 50 million dollars per year, in addition to the cost of establishing and equipping them in the first place. As for the option of desalinating sea water, its cost is more than 60 million dollars annually.
As we present this data to the Lebanese public opinion, we hope that the discussion would be withdrawn from political outbidding, and restricted to its scientific, technical and environmental framework and to its economic, developmental and social feasibility. We hope to reach a sound decision in cooperation and coordination with the World Bank as the party responsible for its financing that accompanied the construction of the dam for decades.