ECHOcommunity Conversations

Lebanon | Water Needs

  • Seeking desalination water options for at-home use (cone system thoughts?)
  • Tanks for homes are not able to be filled because the city doesn’t have enough electricity to fuel the pumps to fill the tanks
  • bottled water has doubled in price
  • For 18 hrs a day of electricity is about $600 a day at the moment. Most people are receiving 1 hr or less a day.
  • if the current water system collapses 78% of Lebanon will lose access to water and the system is currently on the verge of collapse

The challenge is not just filtering water. It is also simply having access to water as the entire economy is collapsing and there is a lack of stability. The first rains will not come until October.

  • In prep for October what are the best AT options for water catchment and storage. Very simple and affordable. Assuming that war could be a very real potential by that point.
1 Like

Hi Kayla,

This is a complex problem! Here are a couple of my thoughts:

Desalination is a very energy intense process. Where there is good sunlight, solar distillation is possible, but it will come at a cost. Assuming average efficiency for a solar still (30%), a 1 square meter still can produce around 2.3 liters of water/day. Thus, the experts say you should plan for 2 square meters of still per person. This would require a very large area to supply entire communities! I would only pursue this option if there are no other viable solutions. To learn more, see this Technical Brief by Practical Action:

Rainwater Harvesting is a great option for any area that receives reliable rainfall. There are MANY good resources for rainwater harvesting available. The biggest challenge to rainwater harvesting is storage. If rainfall events are infrequent, or there are extended dry seasons, you will need a larger catchment area and storage to make it through your dry periods. This can be done by estimating monthly demand and then pairing it with the monthly precipitation data. A great resource for estimating supply/demand is “Agrodok 43 - Rainwater Harvesting for Domestic Use”. Typically the largest cost of a RWH system is storage. One of the most cost effective water storage technologies is the haffir (plastic lined ponds). Ferrocement tanks could also be a good option. Most RWH systems will require some sort of filtration out of storage, but there are many low cost options for this.

If wells are already in use, but the water cannot be accessed due to lack of electricity, solar power may be another option. Recently there have been some amazing advances in technology to allow you to efficiently power a single or 3-phase AC pump with solar or grid power. This may be a good option for wells that are already grid-tied but have unreliable power. You could retrofit a PicoBlender and solar panels to keep the water flowing. The PicoBlender will switch between grid and solar power as needed. We are installing a PicoCell here at ECHO and look forward to evaluating its potential. See more information at: I can also get you in contact with the company if you are interested.

I hope this gets the ideas (and water) flowing Kayla! Let me know if you need more info and I can email you some additional info.

Does anyone else have any ideas for Kayla?

1 Like

The is great information Elliot! Thank you! Lebanon will enter the rainy season in the next month so hopefully rainwater harvesting can be a viable option with some appropriate tech filtration options. Also, I see what you did there - we will keep the ideas and hopefully the water flowing :smiley:

Agrodok 43 free at:

Treadle pumps would be a labor intensive way to fill tanks. Specifications on one commercial model at:

Hello Kayla,

Here is a low-cost filtration idea that came out of MIT this past year that shows some serious promise. I know Lebanon has more access to junipers, pines, firs and other gymnosperms than the surrounding countries, making this a more viable option. This filtration technique also seems to mostly filter out biological contaminates (testing is ongoing as to chemical contaminates) but the website is open source and the published paper, has the “how to” knowledge pertaining to construction materials.

Hope this is helpful.

1 Like

This is very encouraging. Thank you for sharing!

Hi Kayla!

Here is a possible solution that doesn’t rely on rainfall:

Cheap & Efficient MIT Desalination Device: