SIDON, Lebanon: A day after southern Lebanon’s Wazzani River turned black from pollution, the regional water authority assured residents that the water supplied to their homes is sourced directly from the spring in Wazzani, which is clean.
“The river is polluted - not the spring. The river is not the source of the water. The Wazzani spring is clean and the water is treated,” said Amal Chidiac, the head of the South Lebanon Water Establishment’s laboratory department, during a tour for reporters at the body’s headquarters in Sidon.
Major water sources like the Wazzani spring that supply big towns and cities get tested daily, Chidiac said. Midsize sources get tested every two weeks while smaller sources get tested monthly.
“We take samples from various sources including water networks and storage tanks. We then test the water for bacteria, chemicals, minerals, solids and organic matter,” Chidiac told The Daily Star.
Chidiac said when pollutants are found in the water, a treatment process is launched. “If the treatment is difficult, water stops being pumped into the network until the water is treated.”
A local source had told The Daily Star Sunday that the Wazzani River turned black as a result of the dumping of untreated waste from olive mills. A source at the Environment Ministry said the ministry would send a team to investigate the issue.
Many rivers in Lebanon are badly polluted by industry. The Litani River is the country’s longest and perhaps most polluted water source in which sewage and industrial waste have been dumped in for decades.
Last month, the Berdawni River, a tributary of the Litani, turned black due to untreated waste from a nearby factory for the Mimosa Sanitary Paper Company. After nearly two weeks in detention, the company’s owner, Wissam al-Tannouri, was released Monday, while the factory itself has remained shuttered.