Multi-sectorial partnership is beginning to help Lebanon's Shouf Biosphere Reserve (SBR) successfully enhance the recharge of groundwater reservoirs in the area during the October-May rainy season, using retaining walls and terraces that increase water infiltration, among other tools, to reduce the impact of summer droughts.
The development, announced around World Water Day on March 22nd, follows results from the "Groundwater Assessment of the Shouf Biosphere Reserve-Lebanon" study done in collaboration with Nestlé Waters, which in 2017 found the area's overall groundwater balance to be positive by around 12 million cubic meters per year, while detecting important seasonal water fluctuations as well as high impact stemming from climate change and human activities.
A steering committee including representatives from the Shouf Biosphere Reserve, the ministries of Water & Energy, Environment, and Agriculture, municipalities, representatives of local agriculture cooperatives, local water authorities, concerned NGOs, the private sector, and others is set to hold its first meeting in April 2019 to decide on additional actions to further improve sustainable water management in the area.
"A full action plan recommended by the study results' authors has been underway, aiming to improve the quantity and quality of water supply in the area," explained Assaad Saadeh, Water Resources & Environmental Sustainability Manager in the Middle East and Africa at Nestlé Waters. "We are essentially implementing a pilot project with the collaboration of the SBR team and other stakeholders which can be replicated in other water basins around the country, and serve as a model to improve local water resources management."
"We at Nestlé Waters advocate for effective water stewardship and are very happy to bring in our international expertise in water management for the benefit of local communities," he added.
"Our collaboration with the Shouf Biosphere Reserve is allowing us to create shared value for society, the environment and us, by ensuring integrated water resources management of the watershed."
Nestlé Waters is hosting events with local stakeholders at nearly all its sites around the world to celebrate World Water Day in 2019 by helping to raise awareness and share water knowledge, including in Lebanon where children are being invited to learn about water stewardship in Ain Zhalta and near Tyre. More than 18,000 children have been reached through these annual activities over the past nine years.
Besides engaging with local communities, the open doors are also in line with Alliance for Water Stewardship (AWS) certification, with the company committed to AWS certifying all its sites by 2025. The global standard helps major water users to better understand the impact of their activities, and to work together with other stakeholders on the sustainable management of shared water resources.