Shared Water Resources
Lebanon shares surface and groundwater with its two neighbours, Syria and Israel. The main characteristics of the country’s shared rivers – the Orontes (Al-Assi), the Nahr el Kabir and the Hasbani – are presented in Table 3. Lebanon also shares groundwater with both countries, though there is little information available on the Western Galilee Basin that is shared with Israel. Lebanon ratified the 1997 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Non-Navigational Uses of International Watercourses in 1999 and uses its principles as a baseline for its bilateral agreements on water.
Orontes (Al-Assi) River
The Orontes or Al-Assi River rises from the Hermel Mountain(s) in the northern Bekaa region of Lebanon, flows northwards through Syria to discharge in the Mediterranean Sea after crossing into Turkey. It is mainly fed by groundwater that originates from snowmelt in Mount Lebanon and the Anti-Lebanon. Its main sources are the Al-Labweh, Ain Zarqa (main flow contributor) and Daffash Springs in the Bekaa Valley. Water use in the Lebanese part of the basin is estimated at 21 MCM/yr, and consists of small-scale farming, fish farms and tourism. It is also a popular area for rafting.
Developed in consultation with the Syrian government, the Assi scheme aims to develop water resources in the basin for irrigation, domestic use and hydropower. It consists of the construction of a 27 MCM diversion dam near the Ain Zarqa Spring with three pumping stations and an irrigation network for around 3,000 ha (Phase I), and a 37 MCM dam upstream of the Hermel Bridge to irrigate 3,800 ha as well as a hydroelectric power plant to provide 50 MW/day (Phase II) in the regions of Hermel and Al-Qaa. A Chinese contractor working with a local partner started construction work on the dam (Phase I) in 2005, but the site was bombed by Israel during the 2006 war. This led to a dispute between the Lebanese government and the contractor on compensation for losses. After a special committee was formed in 2011 to address the issue, the Lebanese Council of Ministers renegotiated the work terms to meet the contractor’s demands, and the new contract is currently being finalized. In addition to the planned development schemes, Lebanon has solicited international donors for assistance in water monitoring in the basin. Most recently the Italian Cooperation installed meteorological stations for data collection.
 The Daily Star, 2011.
 Data from the Ministry of Energy and Water in Lebanon, 2002. Al-Assi Dam and Al-Qaa-Hermel Irrigation Project Report Issued by the General Directorate of Hydraulic and Electric Resources in Lebanon.
 Ministry of Energy and Water, 2015. Personal communication.
 UNESCO, 2015. Science Diplomacy and Trans-boundary Water Management: The Orontes River Case.
 Syrian-Lebanese Higher Council, 1994.
 Syrian-Lebanese Higher Council, 1997.