Many of the Syrians remember today how they used to go to the sides of the capital-Damascus- on Fridays to enjoy the view of the Barada River flowing, some of whom had witnessed its flood that was filling large parts of the Alrabwa, Almarja, and the old city of Damascus … etc., but none
Of them had expected that the river would turn into just a dry riverbed or a mouth for wastewater in health and industrial uses.
* Ancient and Modern:
Barada River rises from a Lake located in the south of Zabadani area (north-west of Damascus) and pours in Otaiba Lake (south east of Damascus) , this distance is estimated with a length of about 71 km
and its width ranges from 5 to 15 meters, passing about 13 towns, and most importantly it goes through
Damascus and Ghouta for a long distance, which makes it historically linked to Damascus.
Encyclopedic information indicates that the historian(Ebn Asaker) had mentioned that Barada was
Known as Paradios river which means the Paradise River, and was also called the Gold River by the Greeks. Barada River was mentioned in the holy book (Torah) and in many historical references.
There are mosaic plaques that show Barada River passing between houses of Damascus, and the most important events had happened on its Banks since the dawn of history.
Barada has seven branches which are:
1 -Yazeed 2 -Tora 3- Banias 4- Qanawat 5- AlDirani 6- AlMazzawi 7- Alakrbani.
Dr. Jamil Fallouh –the General Director of Water Resources in Damascus and its countryside – explains that there are three water basins which are: Barada and Alaawaj basin, Qalamoun basin, and part of Albadia basin
And he adds that the water resources in Damascus and its countryside and in the Barada and Alaawaj basin are basically Limited, but the gap that has occurred lately is returning to the increased Consumption of those resources, Recalling the average of water resources during many years that it doesn’t exceed 850 million m3, and if we go back 40-50 years we will find that population of the region didn’t exceed half a million people, therefore their needs were less, and even for the needs of irrigation and agriculture, as in the recent period all activities that consume water have increased so the demand for water has become clear, and thus formed a non-balanced equation: limited water resources and an increase in demand for it.
Another study of the Japanese agency (JICA) about the development of the drainage system inSyria features Barada River and Alaawaj basin in three features which are: the high concentration
Of pollution due to industrial activities, limited rainfall, high water use for irrigation purposes, all of those features look – from the viewpoint of the study – as factors that contribute in the acceleration of worsening the water quality problems in the basin of the Barada River and Alaawaj.
* Beginning of the story
then … what happened for Barada River and its branches and lake to become dry, or to say why had Barada disappeared?!.
the water status of Barada has deteriorate during the period starts from the beginning of the of water nineties until the current time, where many reasons have contributed in it, foremost of the following: (note that there are many rumors say that an official work of drilling had caused the sinking of the spring water, while others go to the limit of blaming foreign experts for drying the spring water within the circle of what is called ‘conspiracy’):
– Climatic changes and the attendant decrease in the size of the torrential rainfall and the variance of it from year to another, which affected the feeding of spring opposite to the increased consumption, a reality that can be circulated on all major water basins, as the report of food and agriculture reality in the year 2007 confirms that Syria is generally characterized by low rate of rainfall, which had dropped dramatically over the past years due to the drought, so the drought phenomenon is considered as the most important environmental problems in Syria that happen frequently and may lead to severe repercussions on agricultural production, especially rain-fed crops, and water reserve which is used for irrigated agriculture, the country has experienced recurrent droughts as a result of large fluctuations in the rate of rainfall during the period from 1997 until 2006, and the coefficient of variation has reached 17 percent for the average during this period.
On his part Eng .Fdoesn’t give a great value to the climatic changes in this aspect, despite their insignificant impact “he said”, explaining that the impact of these variables had emerged in the time specified for rain precipitation, formerly December, January and February were the months of rainfall, and currently there is a little bit delayed in the precipitation, but eventually the changes didn’t have quantified reflections, although there’s a tiny reflection in this aspect…
Additional Data that was published in the Economic Report indicates that 2003 was the highest year in the proportion of precipitation during the period from 1997 until the year 2006, then it was obvious that the precipitation has decreased in the next year 2004 and dropped to the lowest indicator since 1999, then returned to rise gradually but in a simple way, so the years 2004 and 1999 were considered the lowest years in precipitation.
– the Increasing demand for water, either for drinking or irrigation and industry use and other economic sectors o, at a time where feeding the springs was reducing every year because of the fluctuation of precipitation, the demand in the seventies and eighties on the water in general, and the waters of the river in particular cannot be equated to the demand in the year 2009, and in the past, (Barada) spring and (Ein Alfejeh) spring were meeting together and forming this flow, which was continued even in summer, but the increasing demand and the decreasing rate of water had gradually led to the reduction of the river flow.
The increasing of demand in the basin of the Barada and Alaawaj, and specifically in Barada spring is represented by the number of wells that were dug by farmers, whether licensed or unlicensed for watering plants, which have grown significantly compared with previous decades, and the dependence for a period of time on irrigation in the traditional manner which wastes water significantly, these wells are estimated today hundreds, according to the Directorate of Water Resources in Damascus and its countryside there is no statistics on the number violating wells in the spring basin, but the available numbers say that there are about 1100 violating wells with all sources of drinking water in Zabadani and at a distance of one kilometer , and in the whole Governorate of Damascus countryside there are about 6500 wells.
here Eng .Fhere indicates that after the year 2000 there has been an attention in the subject of violating wells, and there have been strict procedures, especially after the legislation of water law, for example, during the last three years the number of reserved diggers was about 224 per year, in the year 2008 the number reached to about 225 excavator and during the first half of this year, the number was about 120 diggers.
The most important thing here is the deficit, which began to appear in Alfigeh spring which is a major source of feeding the Barada River, In previous years the deficit in the spring during summer months reached to unprecedented and sometimes dangerous limits as a result of low rainfall and increased water consumption and waste of it.
And according to a study for assessing the sensitivity of the water sector to climatic changes in Syria, the municipal sector in the basin of Barada and Alaawaj consumes a large part of the basin resources (24 percent), to provide drinking water, which is the largest compared with what this sector consumes in other basins, and therefore it would be the most affected. So the city of Damascus has accomplished great improvements to reduce the loss and waste in drinking water networks, there are also big plans for Damascus countryside.
As well as the quality of groundwater, which is another source for drinking water is deteriorating especially in the plain of Damascus as a result of wrongful irrigation, over-fertilization and excessive pollution caused by industrial and domestic wastes, this has led to the closure of more than 200 drinking wells in 2005 and has increased the pressure on the more sweetness resources of Figeh and Barada springs, all of this make it very crucial to reduce the amounts of irrigation water and raise the efficiency of irrigation methods and protect the groundwater from the various sources of pollution (industrial, domestic and agricultural) .
In the year 2006, the General Authority for Water Resources prepared a study on the quality and pollution of water in Barada River, through the monitoring of 36 points along the river and its branches, has been picking samples per month and control rates of pollutants in the water after Palmbr analysis. The study showed that the waters of the Barada River at the source for drinking and human consumption, while under the water for contamination on arrival to the hospice, because of the arrival of sewage water into the river bed. And improve the quality of water when mixed with water Figeh spring, then increase the amount of pollutants from the area after a new important result of sewage and industrial made in the river without treatment. And the remaining water within the specifications of water acceptable for irrigation until they arrive to the area of skins, as it exposed the Barada River main branch Aldaiani in the skins to the pollution of large, because of water runoff resulting from the tanning industry without treatment. Becomes water unfit for irrigation for most indicators of pollution. The study was presented for a variety of proposals to reduce pollution of the river which seek to link the parks all banks and sanitation can be connected and situated in the countryside of Damascus to the main line station connecting to the sewage treatment Adra. And work on the establishment of treatment plants for communities along the Barada River and unencumbered access to sanitation. It is very important that focused on the study to expedite the implementation of the treatment plant water for tanning or move the industry to the industrial zone in Adra and carry out a comprehensive survey of all industries and the nearby restaurants that serve offal in the Barada River and its branches and forcing it to address their waste to the limits allowable for disbursement to the river.
My voice sounds ..
– Abu Ahmed, 65: I have ever heard if I called out alive, but nobody listened, this is the outgrowth of the case in many things and Barada Figeh is no exception …Refrained from drinking water, eye me and my family for my taste of strange water was accompanied by turbidity. But the situation worsened, in the past two weeks showed signs of pollution: the smell of water and the landscape are clear signs it is sewage, not drinking water, and the situation from bad to worse.
Engineer Riad: For years, we are suffering from near the eye of the river, the river has decreased the amount of water remaining wastewater, causing cracks in the soil lead to the leakage of contaminated water through and mixed with the eye. This year, the pollution back to the low abundance of the eye so much.
– Abu Mohammed, 71, says: (withdrawn water to Barada and Figeh springs and deprived his family of drinking, and left us with sewage, MO forbidden by God).
Sanitation has become more than half of the water in the valley of the Barada, such as Deer Qanoon, the market and the valley of the Barada, Kafr Alawameed ..The population is suffering a severe shortage of water so they have to buy tanks, which prices range between 200 and 250’s.