BEIRUT — Neighborhoods of Beirut, the capital's southern suburbs and Metn have been experiencing a month-long water outage due to electricity cuts at the Dbayeh pump station and malfunctions in the supply of the Mushrif wells.
The Beirut Mount Lebanon Water Establishment (EBML) stated Tuesday that electricity cuts at the Dbayeh pump station are causing water scarcity in Achrafieh, Burj Abi Haydar and the coast of Metn.
In the statement, EBML said there was also a malfunction in the supply of the Mushrif wells which negatively affected the delivery of water to Burj al-Barajneh and Hay al-Sellom.
"The Establishment is seeking to repair the malfunction with its own limited resources after donor organizations informed them of the inability to secure more support to repair the flaws," the statement continued.
EBML added that "it is making efforts to restore water supply to the capital, its neighborhoods and other areas as quickly as possible whether by making the necessary communications to secure additional electricity supply to the Dbayeh station or through continuous work to repair malfunctions in the Mushrif wells."
Also in the statement, EBML asked for assistance from authorities at all levels to return water to subscribers as soon as possible.
On Aug. 23, EBML announced that it would impose "a harsh" water rationing system due to its "inability to buy diesel in hard currency," but did not give specifics on how the rationing scheme will be structured or rolled out.
Lebanon is suffering from a severe electricity crisis that worsened following the 2019 economic crisis. The country continues to face difficulties securing fuel to power its electrical grid due to a lack of state funds.
Water disparities in Beirut
A 2018 Beirut Built Environment study showed acute imbalances in how water is supplied in Beirut. Historically, the west side of the city has suffered greater shortages than the east side.
Abir Zaatari, a researcher at the Beirut Urban Lab at the American University of Beirut told L'Orient Today last year that certain quarters (Rmeil, Medawar, Saifi and Achrafieh) receive public water abundantly while Ras Beirut, Bashoura, Mousaitbeh, Ain al-Mreisseh and Mazraa generally suffer from public water scarcity.
Zaatari said that the issue has more to do with topography and infrastructure than it does with sectarian or political divides.
“Beirut is a topographical city and water distribution reservoirs are located on top of Beirut’s three hills: the Achrafieh hill, the Tallet al-Khayat hill and the Burj Abi Haidar hill,” while the city’s two water reservoirs are located in Achrafieh and Tallet al-Khayat.
Achrafieh receives water from the treatment plant in Dbayeh, which gets its water from the Jeita streams and other wells.
Water situation in Achrafieh
On Monday, some Achrafieh residents complained to L'Orient Today and the state-run National News Agency (NNA) about an ongoing water outage that began more than a month ago.
Water cuts force residents to purchase water from private suppliers despite difficult living conditions. To fill a water tank through a private supplier costs approximately $40.
According to NNA, residents "renewed their appeal to the Dbayeh Water Authority to work on re-pumping water."
Achrafieh resident Dany Wakim, who suffered from water scarcity for more than a month, told L'Orient Today that he "needs to buy water" from private companies "every three days" and that he spent approximately $143 in the past month just on water.
A resident living near Rizk Hospital in Achrafieh told L'Orient Today that she was also suffering from water cuts but that water reached her house two days ago.
It remains unclear why residents in different parts of Achrafieh are experiencing varied water supply.
Mired in the worst economic crisis in its history, Lebanon regularly experiences water cuts. Suppliers blame the cuts on a lack of electricity and resources, as well as poor working conditions and stolen equipment, according to the NNA.