Provision of safe domestic water for the promotion and protection of public health: a case study of the city of Beirut, Lebanon

  • Samira Ibrahim Korfali
  • Mey Jurdi
Original Paper


Securing adequate safe drinking water and proper sanitation is a major challenge facing the developing world. The “Water for Life Decade” emphasizes the importance of upgrading national water quality and sanitation services. This study assessed the domestic water profile in the city of Beirut. Samples were collected from three types of household water sources (municipality, private wells, and vended water bottles) and assessed for their physiochemical and microbiological profile. At the same time, a cross-sectional survey assessing water consumption patterns and the prevalence of water-borne diseases was conducted. The results showed a deficient water quality profile in all three water sources. The measured physiochemical and bacteriological parameters reflected the high frequency of water-borne diseases. Action to secure a safe domestic water supply is essential. The plan should guarantee the protection of water sources, ensure sufficient treatment of domestic water and upgrade the national program for potable water quality control. Periodic quality monitoring and legislating the chaotic water-vending sector are indispensable. Additionally, the deterioration of private well sources by sea and wastewater infiltration necessitates the enforcement of legislation associated with the use and management of private wells. Consumer awareness and active contributions to promote and protect public health are important.


Major water ions Bacteriological quality Groundwater Municipality water Vending water Water-borne diseases Intervention plan Lebanon 



This study was supported by the University Research Council, Lebanese American University, under contract nos. URC-c2006-02, URC-F2006-21 and URC-t2007-26 and the Lebanese National Council for Scientific Research (CNRSL).


  1. Acra, A., & Ayoub, G. M. (2001). Indicators of coastal groundwater quality changes induced by seawater inflitation. International Journal of Environmental Studies, 58, 761–769.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Acra, A., Raffoul, Z., & Karahogopian, N. (1983). Long-term investigation of sea water infiltration and ground water quality in Greater Beirut. MESAEP, Proceedings: Second International Meeting on Environmental Pollution in the Mediterranean Region, 6–7 September 1983, Iraklion, Crete.Google Scholar
  3. Al-Safir Newspaper. (2002). Official examinations confirm water pollution. Al-Safir Newspaper, 14 February (in Arabic).Google Scholar
  4. Amery, H. A. (2002). Irrigation planning in Lebanon: Challenges and opportunities. In Ö. Mehmet & H. Biçak (Eds.), Modern and traditional irrigation technologies in the Eastern Mediterranean (Chap. 6). Ottawa, Canada: IDRC 2002 Publication.Google Scholar
  5. APHA—American Public Health Association. (1998). Standard methods for the examination of water and wastewater (20th ed.). Washington, DC.Google Scholar
  6. Basma, S. (2004). Complementary water sources in a selected urban area in Beirut, Lebanon: Public perceptions, regulations and quality. MS thesis, Department of Environmental Health, Faculty of Health Sciences, American University of Beirut, Lebanon.Google Scholar
  7. Bennet, E. B. (1998). Public-private cooperation in the delivery of urban infrastructures services (water and waste). United Nations, Development Program-Public Private Partnerships (UNDP-PPP), Yale.Google Scholar
  8. Carter, R. C., Tyrrel, S. F., & Howsam, P. (1997). The impact and sustainability of water and sanitation programs in developing countries. Journal of the Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management, 13, 292–296.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Council of Development and Reconstruction-CDR. (1998). Water supply and waste water report. Available at: (choose a report).
  10. Drever, J. I. (1997). The geochemistry of natural waters: Surface and groundwater environments (3rd ed.). New Jersey, USA: Prentice Hall.Google Scholar
  11. El-Fadel, M., Zeinati, N., & Jamali, D. (2000). Water resources in Lebanon: Characterization, water balance and constrains. Journal of Water Resource Development, 16(4), 619–642.Google Scholar
  12. El-Fadel, M., Maroun, R., Semerjian, S., & Harajli, H. (2003). A health-based socio-economic assessment of drinking water quality: The case of Lebanon. Management of Environmental Quality, 14(3), 353–368.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Gleick, P. H. (1996). Basic water requirements for human activities: Meeting basic needs. Water International, 21, 83–92.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Hinrichsen, D., Robey, B., & Upadhyay, U. D. (1997). Solutions for a water-short world. Population reports, series M, No. 14. Baltimore, MD: Population Information Program, John Hopkins School of Public Health.Google Scholar
  15. Jaber, B. (1997). Water in Lebanon: Problems and solutions. Public lecture given in the Department of Hydrology, Purdue University, Lafayette, USA, April, 1997.Google Scholar
  16. Jurdi, M., Kambris, M., & Basma, S. (2002). Development of drinking water quality control programs: Challenges for sustainability. Journal of Environmental Practice, 4(2), 72–74.Google Scholar
  17. Jurdi, M., Abed Al-Razzzak, M., & Bassma, S. (2003). The introduction of water resources management in Western Asia region. Water Policy, 5(3), 253–268.Google Scholar
  18. Kjellen, M. (2000). Complementary water systems in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania: The case of water vending. Water Resource Development, 16, 143–154.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Korfali, S., & Jurdi, M. (2007). Assessment of domestic water quality: Case study, Beirut, Lebanon. Environmental Monitoring and Assessment, 135, 241–251.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Lababidi, H., Shatela, A., & Acra, A. (1987). The progressive salination of ground water in Beirut, Lebanon. International Journal of Environmental Studies, 30, 203–208.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Makoni, F. S., Manase, G., & Ndamba, J. (2004). Patterns of domestic water use in rural areas of Zimbabwe, gender roles and realities. Physics and Chemistry of the Earth, 29, 1291–1294.Google Scholar
  22. Ministry of Environment—MEO. (2001). Lebanon State of the Environment Report-Water (Chap. 8).Google Scholar
  23. Ministry of Health—MOH. (2000). Compilation of Lebanese epidemiological newsletter. EpiNews 1995–2000.Google Scholar
  24. Palamuleni, L. G. (2002). Effects of sanitation facilities, domestic solid waste disposal and hygiene practices on water quality in Malawi’s urban poor areas: A case study of South Lunzu Township in the city of blan tyre. Physics and Chemistry of the Earth, 27, 845–850.Google Scholar
  25. Pathan, M. D. (1977). Pollutional aspects of water resources in Lebanon (Vol. 1). MS thesis, American University of Beirut, Lebanon.Google Scholar
  26. Saghir, J., Schiffler, M., & Mathewos, W. (2000). Urban water and sanitation in the Middle East and North Africa region: The way forward. Washington, DC: World Bank Publication.Google Scholar
  27. United Nation—UN. (2001). World urbanization prospects. UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division.Google Scholar
  28. United Nation—UN. (2003). Water for people, water for life. UN World Water Development Report (WWDR).Google Scholar
  29. United Nations Development Program—UNDP. (1995). Online, available at:
  30. United States Environmental Protection Agency—USEPA. (2003). National primary drinking water standards, EPA 816-F-03-016. Available at
  31. WHO. (2006). Guidelines for drinking-water quality: First addendum to third edition. Volume 1 Recommendations. Geneva, Switzerland.Google Scholar
  32. WSSD. (2002). A framework for action on water and sanitation. WEHAB Working Group of the World Summit on Sustainable Development, Johannesburg, 2002.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Natural Science DivisionLebanese American UniversityChouran, BeirutLebanon
  2. 2.Environmental Health Department, Faculty of Health SciencesAmerican University of BeirutBeirutLebanon

Personalised recommendations