“In one drop of water are found
all the secrets of all the oceans;
in one aspect of You
are found all the aspects of existence.”
Gebran Kahlil Gebran
Spring of Life: Water
Water has always held a wide and deep fascination for me. I believe it is the same for most people, even if most of these most do not realize it.
We stand in awe in front of a waterfall. We come to a standstill at the shore of an ocean, our eyes wandering in its blue-greenness, and our souls sighing in peace.
The sight of waves resonates strangely inside us. The ripples of water in a river tickle our spirits refreshingly. The view and scent of a lake have no less comforting effect on and in us.
And in all of these, we feel the hidden mystery with a sense of utmost respect and… belonging. Because, initially and after all, we do belong to that intriguing source of life.
We might deny it or disregard it as insignificant, yet 70% of our body acknowledges it undeniably for being just that: water.
Hence, when next time you stand by an ocean, a lake, a river, or a fall, and you sigh inwardly or openly, know that it is the majority of your body that is connecting, feeling “home”, and reacting smoothly and blissfully.
In its proximity to its source of life, your being relaxes in an almost mystic way, as waves of peace embrace your soul.
On your next trip to a body of water, take a moment to breath in, your eyes closed, and feel it in its entirety, acknowledge it, embrace it, and honor it…. for that water is the spring of life!
Water is therapeutic to the body and the soul, whether we drink it or just stand by it, admiring it, and inhaling its seen or unseen ripples in the air.
Science has proven it but our forefathers, since the onset of humanity, knew it all along.
Thousands, and maybe millions, of articles have been written about the necessity of drinking water. So I won’t go there nor enter into a repetition of what has been said.
Today, it is about our God-given gift of a most amazing life source that we have been taking for granted, minimizing its essential value, disrespecting its beauty, and dishonoring its love to humanity.
For decades, I lived by the Mediterranean Sea, enjoying the blessing of its proximity, despite the raging war. I rode along its coast back and forth my school, my university, my work and my daily life.
I got to admire it at all time from my windows. I got to sit at my balconies, resting my mind on its beauty, and I got to swim in its water.
An amazing feeling of peace and love that embraces the soul….
We, Lebanese, got so used to it that most of us have stopped praising its existence, honoring it, enjoying it and… protecting it.
Not long ago, I had this renewed experience in Switzerland, when I stood hypnotized in awe and divine peace in front of the Lake of Puidoux-Chexbres. It is probably the closest I have come to touch the spiritual divinity on earth.
And yet, in our Lebanon of just 4,035.54 sq miles, we have major Basins, three of which “cover” 45% of the country, in addition to several major lakes, and 40 major streams.
The country is blessed with over 2000 springs, not counting the hundreds of small ones scattered around, the amazing Grotto of Jeita, and the wells throughout the country; a thousand of which are private in the coastal area of Beirut.
And this is what I aim to reveal to you today, from my homeland that gets to use only 17% of its water.
May you admire them and May you enjoy them…
May you respect us in our “natural giving” from them, and
May you forgive us for misusing them.
Springs of Life in Lebanon
There is something amazing about freedom of speech and expression. We don’t have to follow the academic list.
Hence, I start with the most fascinating body of water existing today in Lebanon: Jeita Grotto!
THE JEITA GROTTO: known as THE CAVE OF WONDERS
Jeita Grotto’s underground river supplies fresh drinking water to over a million residents.
The Jeita Grotto is more than a natural wonder and a Lebanese National Symbol. It plays an important economical role in the country, and also culturally and socially.
Situated some 11 miles from Beirut, in the locality of Jeita, its body of water extends to the River of Adonis in Nahr El-Kalb by the ancient city of Byblos.
The Grotto is formed of 2 interconnected natural caves of about 5.6 miles, several chambers, and lower and upper galleries. Nature and times have allied since prehistory to create awe-striking works of art of fascinating stalactites, one of which is the largest known to the world.
THE ASSI-ORONTES BASIN & RIVER
AL HASBANI BASIN & RIVER
AL-LITANI BASIN & RIVER
THE GREAT RIVER: NAHR EL-KABIR
Among the remaining major coastal river basins in Lebanon, the Great River of Nahr El-Kabir is to be cited. Located in the North of Lebanon, it forms the frontier with Syria, and both countries share it as it flows down the Mediterranean Sea.
ADONIS RIVER & AFQUA WATERFALLS
A river of Phoenician Mythology of the god of love, rebirth and beauty, Adonis river streams at 5000 ft from the Afqa huge cavern.
It creates several falls on its way down, passing by a mountainous gorge, and flowing through the town of Nahr Ibrahim to join the Mediterranean sea at the coast.
The Adonis River has come to be known as Nahr Ibrahim for the town it streams through.
February, it takes a blood-red color, which the Phoenicians attributed to their god Adonis’ bloody death at that river. Hence the many temples and shrines still found in the valley of that river. February, a month of heavy winter rains, witnesses yearly the washing off the mountains. Heavy soil streams down the Adonis River from a 5000 ft, turning its water into a dark red color; a work of Mother Nature, which the Phoenicians correlated in a legend to the blood of their god Adonis.
AL QAROUN LAKE
The Qaraoun Lake of the Beqaa Valley was created in 1959 to receive an annual 420 million m3 of water flowing from the Litani River, generate electricity to 3 main power stations, supply domestic water and provide for irrigation needs of about 68,000 acres of the Beqaa agriculture.
BAAKLEEN WATERFALLS & RIVER
BAATARA GORGE AND WATERFALLS
OUYOUN EL SAMAK: THE EYES OF THE FISH
THE BNACH’EH LAKE
AL BAROUK WATERFALLS, RIVER & LAKE
AL DAMOUR RIVER
And Lebanon gets to use 17% only of its abundance of water
With that indicative overview of our water natural resources, and my fellow Lebanese will forgive me for having missed all too many here, you might be wondering with us why our nation doesn’t get to use more than 17% of its water.
For decades, our nation has been under duress from the poor quality of provided (or not) service in that regards, adding to the war damages and the pollution in some of our water bodies.
Residential supply of water is rationed for as long as we remember.
According to official figures, the average water availability per day is “22 hours in the North, 10 hours in the Bekaa, 8 hours in the South, and for Beirut-Mount Lebanon 13 hours in winter, but only 2 hours in summer.” (Ministry of Energy and Water, 2012)
Lebanese people pay for their needs of water from water trucks passing by homes on appointments to fill residential tanks on demands. It is a fact that the nation only makes use of 17% of its available water, although..
“As per the Establishment of the Water of Beirut and Mount Lebanon: In Lebanon it rains on average of 8 billion m3 of water, the equivalent of 3 million Olympic swimming pools.”
I got to believe it when recently Lebanese protesters for a nation’s basic right to cleanness got to experience how much water we do actually have in the country…