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Chouf hopes artificial lakes will help solve several problems.

Byline: Maher Zeineddine

Summary: A press tour organized by Chouf municipalities on Thursday stressed the importance of building manmade lakes in the mountainous areas of the region. "This project became of urgent necessity to guard against water dissipation in times of global warming and complete drought during the summer season," said a statement issued by the municipalities.

CHOUF: A press tour organized by Chouf municipalities on Thursday stressed the importance of building manmade lakes in the mountainous areas of the region.

"This project became of urgent necessity to guard against water dissipation in times of global warming and complete drought during the summer season," said a statement issued by the municipalities.

Under the sponsorship of Democratic Gathering leader MP Walid Jumbaltt and in collaboration of a number of municipalities in the Chouf region, the project aims at collecting and storing rain water throughout the winter season to allow for agricultural irrigation, firefighting and the preservation of the region's fauna and flora during the summer months.

The project is also designed to help keep the Chouf nature reserve green all year long as well as to promote tourism in the region.Aa

The scientific coordinator for the Chouf nature reserve, Nizar Hani, stressed that the establishment of manmade lakes was an integral part of a larger plan aimed at firefighting and the preservation of biological and natural diversity in the region.

"The project started in 2000 in association with the Japanese embassy," Hani said.

The Chouf region, which is home to an estimated 25 percent of Lebanon's cedar trees, was one of several parts of the country to witness severe forest fires last year, losing about 3,000 hectares of green areas.

In their statement, the municipalities said that manmade lakes could also be used as a source of potable water for the entire Chouf region.Aa

According to the municipalities, 12 manmade lakes located in the Chouf towns of Mresti Jbaa, Khraibe, Bazaran and Barouk with capacities of 2,058 cubic meters, built at a cost at an estimated cost of $50,000 each "are so far successfully operating and rendering benefits to a number of Chouf towns and villages."

Mresti Mayor Nasser Zaydan said that the high cost of building the manmade lakes was "due the worldwide increase in oil prices."

"The substance used to prevent water leakage while building the lakes is a fuel derivative too," he added

Zaydan said building expenses were covered in collaboration with the Council for Development and Reconstruction through the Farah Social Foundation, adding that building three more lakes would be sufficient to supply all remaining land in the Chouf region with water.

The building of lakes inside the Chouf nature reserve was begun inAa August and works will be wrapped up in 45 days, according to project manager Waked Batlouni.

The statement by the Chouf municipalities said the building of manmade lakes in the Chouf region will cost $350,000.

"MP Walid Jumblatt contributed the larger chunk," the statement added.AaAa

The Chouf reserve, one of Lebanon's largest and covering a total area of 50,000 hectares, will house a lake that could contain up to 90,000 cubic meters of water and at an altitude of 1,600 meter above sea level.

"The location was of extreme importance to is," Batlouni said, adding that the lake was built "in a location where it would be easy for truck containers and helicopters to fill up with water in case of a forest fire."

Batlouni added that investment in the agricultural sector will create more opportunities for farmers, "and this is widely believed to be the best means to support rural development and production."

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Publication:The Daily Star (Beirut, Lebanon)
Date:Sep 5, 2008
Words:627
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