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Project Protection of the Jeita-Spring

Main problems of the water sector in Lebanon are the insufficient management and the deficient protection of the groundwater resources. In the metropolitan area of Beirut approximately 1.9 million residents depend on the drinking water supply of the Jeita-Spring, located approximately 13 km northeast from the city center of Beirut. The groundwater aquifer in the catchment area of the Jeita-Spring is endangered by numerous pollution sources, in particular by sewage water. Furthermore the water distribution system is antiquated and approximately 4.5 km west of the Jeita-Spring the sewage-treatment plant in Dbaye is not able to intercept the pollution sufficiently. The water supply of Beirut thus is acutely threatened. 


Project partners are the Council for Development and Reconstruction (CDR), the Water Establishment Beirut Mount Libanon (WE-BML) as well as the Ministry of Energy and Water (MoEW). Other project partners and public authorities (such as Ministry of Public Works, Ministry of Environment and municipalities in the catchment area) will be integrated into project activities according to requirements. It is the first suchlike project for groundwater protection in Lebanon and thus has an important pilot and signal function for the water and environmental sector.

Technical Cooperation with Lebanon

Project-No.: 2008.2162.9

Project-ID: 1048

Project contributions:


Council for Development and Reconstruction (CDR)

Water Establishment of Beirut and Mount Lebanon (E.B.M.L.)

Republic of Lebanon. Ministry of Environment (MOE)


Dr. Hans Günter MyliusPhone:             +49-(0)511-643-2359      Fax:             +49-(0)511-643-3661      E-Mail:

Project number 2008.2162.9
Geographical coverage Lebanon
Budget (in €) 0
Programme BGR
Web site

The project planned by BGR takes place in parallel to a project ofKfW with the same title. KfW project envisages the construction of sewage-treatment plants and collectors in the catchment area of the Jeita-Spring. Both projects conduce to the decline of the pollution of surface- and groundwater. The main reason for the contamination of the Jeita-Spring is the so far not regulated collection and treatment of sewage water in the catchment area of the Jeita-Spring. In line with the German Technical Cooperation measures it should be attempted to integrate aspects of water resources protection into the planning of projects for sewage water purification as well as into other domains of landuse planning


Task 1
The planning of wastewater facilities is still at the beginning in Lebanon. Because of the high karstification in the Mount Lebanon and Antilebanon mountain ranges, hydrogeological criteria must be integrated into the planning process. This fact was recognized by KfW Entwicklungsbank, which is in the process to establish wastewater facilities in the Jeita catchment and elsewhere in Lebanon. Because of this fact, two projects were funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), a Technical Cooperation project implemented by BGR and a Financial Cooperation project, implemented by KfW Entwicklungsbank. Both projects work closely together in finding the optimal and safest solution for wastewater facilities in the Jeita catchment. To this end a joint proposal has been made by both parties. KfW andBGR will prepare a joint environmental impact assessment (EIA) for the selected sites.

BGR will assist the partners to prepare the hydrogeological part of the EIA. Currently EIAs in the wastewater sector don't follow well defined rules and regulations. Therefore the BGR project has established a guideline for environmental impact assessments in the wastewater sector.

Treated wastewater reuse may provide additional water for irrigation when discharge of springs is not sufficient. Therefore the Ministry of Energy and Water is currently in the process to establish regulations for treated wastewater reuse. The BGRproject has prepared a guideline for treated wastewater reuse which specifically addresses the following issues :

  • definition of criteria where treated wastewater reuse could be allowed,
  • definition of threshold values for treated wastewater reuse, and
  • definition of monitoring criteria.

The project also prepared a best management practice guideline for treated wastewater and sludge reuse.

Task 2
The second main task is the delineation of groundwater protection zones. In karst areas this is not an easy task. In order to establish a groundwater protection zone 3, i.e. the groundwater contribution zone of Jeita spring, several tracer tests (Figure 7) were done using organic dyes (uranine, amidorhodamine G, sodium naphthionate and eosin). These tracer tests revealed that the groundwater contribution zone is considerably different than previously assumed. The extent of this contribution zone is mainly controlled by the geological structure. Tracer tests were conducted and interpreted in cooperation with University of Göttingen, Department of Applied Geology. Because the existing geological maps dated back to the 1940s and were not accurate enough, a new geological map of the groundwater contribution zone was prepared.

Groundwater protection zone 2 is delineated using groundwater vulnerability mapping. Two methods specifically developed for karst areas were selected: EPIK (Epikarst, Protective cover, Infiltration, Karst network) and COP (Concentration of flow,Overlying layers, Precipitation). For this purpose soil and karst feature mapping had to be conducted. The groundwater vulnerability maps will be prepared in cooperation with the University of Göttingen/Department of Applied Geology.

In order to be able to propose water resources management options in the catchment, a WEAP model (Water EvaluationAnd Planning System) is being established. Base data for all components of the water balance are being collected through new monitoring stations provided by the project (meteorological stations, surface water runoff gauging stations, acoustic doppler current profiler).

Task 3
Jeita cave is an underground river which has been explored over more than 5,500 m. At places this river is more than 6 m wide. Discharge from Jeita spring was measured in the late 1960s and early 1970s and is about 200 million cubic meters per year. Most springs in Lebanon are not regularly monitored due to lack of equipment and staff. The BGR project has set up a monitoring system to measure discharge and quality of four major springs in the project area using multiparameter probes:Jeita springKashkoush spring, Assal spring and Labbane spring. This system alerts the Dbaye purification plant in case of pollution peaks via telemetric data transfer so that the water supply could be switched to another source of supply.

Water supply installations at Jeita springWater supply installations at Jeita spring

Task 4
The water supply system based on Jeita spring is extremely fragile. In case of a damage of the canal or the tunnel the entire system would be out of operation for a long time and Beirut would be practically without water. Therefore alternatives are urgently needed. Together with KfW Entwicklungsbank, the project will prepare a concept how to improve the conveyance system.

The drinking water purification plant at Dbaye, which is, like many of the water supply facilities very old (built in 1896), currently only consists of chlorination and sand beds and is therefore not able to eliminate organic contaminants such as pesticides or hydrocarbons. An extension of the treatment plant is not possible due to lack of space. If hydrocarbons were present in the raw water, there would even be a risk of the formation of chlorinated hydrocarbons through treatment. The conveyor bringing water from Jeita to Dbaye is partly 140 years old and leaky. The canal is partly open and people have drilled into the canal. Thus there is also a high pollution risk emanating from the conveyor itself and the treatment. The tunnel drilled through the mountain north of Dbaye is too small and limits the capacity of the water supply system to 255,000 cubic meters per day. A damage to the tunnel by tectonic movements or earthquakes would have disastrous consequences.

Not just the quality but also the quantity of water provided by the conveyor is more and more becoming a problem. In December 2010 water supply from Jeita and Kashkoush was critically low. A solution to overcome periods of water shortage would be to build one or more dams. The project is looking into such and other water resources management options for the project area.

Period [16/06/2009 - 31/12/2013]