Proliferation of Water Wells at the Expense of Groundwater Resources

A joint commentary between Public Works and SEAC - the Agricultural movement in Lebanon

MP Ahmad Al-Kheir proposed a draft law in September 2023 aiming to extend the submission of applications for the regularization of unlicensed private water wells. The proposal is based on the “Water Law” of 2020, asserting the right of beneficiaries of unlicensed water wells to obtain an investment license after applying for regularization within a specified timeframe.

Lebanon currently has over 80,000 unlicensed wells, with only 300 regularization applications filed. The proliferation of wells in Lebanon addresses water scarcity in domestic, industrial, and tourism sectors. The MP seeks an extension of deadlines, claiming potential financial gains for the state through fee collection. The real danger lies not just in extending deadlines but in the Water Law itself, lacking provisions for groundwater protection. Uncontrolled well digging results in the seepage of saline water into groundwater in coastal areas, affecting coastal agriculture and spreading diseases like E. coli in Lebanon’s water. To safeguard groundwater and ensure well sustainability, regulations and guidelines, perhaps modeled after what is known as the “Arab Well,” should be established. The authorities often resort to settlement policies, be it through proposed laws or existing ones, but the absence of clear standards exacerbates land and resource exploitation, as well diggers have a financial incentive to dig deeper without proper regulations.

Read details in Arabic here.

Natural Resources Lebanon