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The Lebanese government agreed to provide a team to find a water source and provide electricity for the pumps.

Rarely do dreams come true in a day, so the old government system had to be reactivated. “Trickle” was the word of the day – day after day. Even before the war, potable water was at a premium in Dmit. Every 48 hours, 5,250 cubic feet of water flowed into Dmit, to be shared by 715 families. With an average of five persons per family, there were 3,575 people with their hands on the tap. According to UNICEF the water supplied was only half the amount needed.

After the war the old system pumped in 5,250 cubic feet of water only three times a week. For the population’s needs it should have been much more. When families came for the weekend they brought their own water for washing and drinking.

One longer-term solution was to buy water from one of the many entrepreneurs who fitted their trucks with water tanks, a hose and a generator. The going rate was $20 for a tank of water. Where the water came from and how clean the tanks were remained a subject for discussion.

For the Pontifical Mission’s Beirut staff, the Dmit water project would be their most significant potable water project. For three months, experts and engineers came and went.

The Ministry of Energy and Water brought their maps of artesian wells. The water source had to be substantial; it had to be deep enough to assure that it was not polluted.

The water from the government source started out clean, but the pipes that carried it and the tank where it was stored were not. The pipes were narrow and often cracked, allowing untreated sewage from village households and farms to seep into the pipes. As for the old reservoir, it had become home to a noisy family of frogs.

Once a site was chosen, the digging began, went on for one month and reached a depth of 760 feet. The well was a predetermined distance from the village and other sources of contamination. Now came the challenge: How to transport that water from down in the valley up to the crest and behind Dmit, where an enclosed cistern would house the water.

With the flick of a switch a generator activates the system – and bells and whistles are no exaggeration. The control panel looks like a little slice of Las Vegas. It draws the water from the depths below to the surface, where the pipes carry it to the first booster station. From there an electric pump carries it to the reservoir.

A grand total of 11,550 feet of pipe were required to make this village dream come true. Now there is no fear of contamination – these modern pipes are made of polyethylene, a material guaranteed toprevent seepage. They are also a hefty four inches in diameter.

The main reservoir for this elaborate stretch of pipe is nestled among the pines. Pipes lead down to Dmit and its Christian neighbor, Serjbal. This village has 125 families, all-year residents. In the summer the count rises to 315. Most full-timers in Serjbal are farmers.

Water does not just quench their thirst. Now the lush, terraced hillsides abound in plum and apricot trees, grapes, olives and figs. Their stellar crop, nicknamed ‘platinum’ because of its quality and value in Lebanon, is the white bean.

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Tags: Lebanon Village life Farming/Agriculture Water