Lebanon has sufficient natural water resources but faces complex challenges due to uncontrolled consumption and increased pollution. The sudden increase in population due to the influx of approximately 1.5 million displaced Syrians has put further strain on the system. The Lebanese government is working on protecting and upgrading water resources, and on the completion, expansion and rehabilitation of the water and wastewater networks.
The government is doing work to protect and upgrade water resources, and to complete, expand and rehabilitate the water and wastewater networks. only 37 percent of the population have access to safe drinking water. This is part due to deficiencies in water supply and contamination across the transmission networks, but also because of pollution at the source and unsustainable water extraction practices and uses. Untreated municipal wastewater, and some industrial and agricultural waste, is often discharged into valleys, rivers and the sea.
In response to these challenges, Cabinet approved the National Water Sector Strategy in 2012. This aims to ‘ensure water supply, irrigation and sanitation services throughout Lebanon on a continuous basis and at optimal service levels, with a commitment to environmental, economic and social sustainability.’ It calls for increased coverage of wastewater collection networks and treatment capacities; resolved transmission and distribution problems; infrastructure for surface water storage and recharging groundwater. On the demand side, the strategy includes installing metering and volumetric charging. In April 2018, the Water Code was passed by the Lebanese Parliament. This legislation applies international agreements on water, promotes integrated water resource management and provides for delegated management to the private sector. The decrees and decisions pertaining to this law still need to be passed before it can be applied.