Negotiations have been successfully completed for a $474 million loan from the World Bank to finance the construction of the Bisri dam on the Awali River. Arthur Nazarian, Minister of Energy and Water (MoEW), as well as representatives from the ministry and the Council for Development and Reconstruction (CDR) concluded the funding talks.
The project is integrated with a downstream water supply network already under construction. “The downstream part consists of constructing a conveyor tunnel, pipelines, a center reservoir and distribution networks for regional reservoirs,” said Elie Moussalli, Lead Project Engineer at CDR. He said the downstream project includes a water treatment plant, all part of a prior loan by the World Bank worth $370 million. “The downstream part is in its initial phases but it will be in an advanced stage by the time the Bisri dam agreement is signed and an ensuing law is approved by Parliament,” said Moussalli.
The Bisri Damn is located between the Chouf and Jezzine areas and will have a storage capacity of 125 million m3 of potable water, the second largest, after Qaraoun’s 210 million m3 and Chabrouh at 9 million m3. It will supply drinking water mostly to coastal areas like Damour, Nahmeh, Aramoun, Beirut Suburbs, Mkalles, and the two main reservoirs in Beirut located in Ashrafieh and Tallet Al Khayyat.
“The Islamic Bank for Development which had agreed to finance $70 million of the project’s second phase under a Framework Agreement now looks to be increasing its financial participation, since we now have the components and details of the project,” said Moussalli.
There is $320 million earmarked in funds for construction and $150 million for expropriation of properties around the project. “The areas are not heavily populated save a few a farmers living in tents, with no permanent structures obstructing the project,” said Moussalli. He said CDR completed a number of extensive visits to the villages where the expropriations will take place explaining the mechanisms, benefits, phases, and others aspects. Another $4 million is allocated for overseeing and managing the project including environmental monitoring and impact assessment. The agreement still awaits the ratification of the World Bank board, the Cabinet, and Parliament, before the project enters the execution phase.