One of the ten interventions planned by the municipal election campaign Beirut Madinati targets Beirut’s large water, sewerage, and electricity infrastructure. Lebanon has major infrastructure and structural problems that prevent it from providing an adequate supply of clean water, and electricity as well as sewerage treatment services. This has lead to high costs on the Lebanese Government and people. There are also serious adverse environmental impacts. Wastewater is disposed to the sea with no treatment and the thousands of unregulated private generators have decreased Beirut’s air quality.
To tackle this, Beirut Madinati’s main objective is “A city that perceives as its prime priority the delivery of safe water and electricity to all its dwellers.” Their overall strategy to implement this is to “reactivate the role of the municipality as an advocate and team leader for the management and organizations of urban infrastructure”
Short term measures mainly include communications with other government agencies, identify repairs in infrastructure, and regulate diesel generators to minimize all adverse impacts. The long term strategy calls for increasing water storage by urban reservoirs (instead of dams), regulating the drilling of wells, advocating for the water establishment to work on the water network to reduce physical leakage, and, in collaboration with EDL, implementing renewable energy projects to compensate for the scheduled three hours power outage in the city. The strategy also includes monitoring and phasing out of generators and finding a solution for Beirut’s sewerage.
This is a very ambitious plan and, if implemented, will definitely improve various aspects of Beirut, especially if special attention is given to monitoring activities, considering the municipality already shares the responsibility of infrastructure with other ministries and government agencies.
For instance, one of Beirut Madinati’s goals is to phase out power generators. This will be very difficult to achieve if electricity supply does not increase. Until that happens, the municipality can develop a monitoring plan that is based on existing regulation (the Ministry of Environment Circular related to Monitoring Generators on 7 July 2013 and Ministry of Environment Decision 8/1 Specifications And Standards Relative To Air Pollutants, And Liquid Discharges From Classified Industries And Wastewater Treatment Plants on 1 March, 2001) to limit their adverse impact. Generator emissions are not visible; therefore, a monitoring plan needs to consist of measuring an air sample near the exhaust on a regular basis. Monitoring plans for water quality need to also be developed and implemented, especially for coastal waters. Such monitoring plans do not exist and this data is essential for planning future projects.
The municipality already has a legal basis for undertaking all these activities. It can then use the information to communicate with the various relevant government entities and advocate for measures and interventions that improve the situation on the ground.