The Hydropolitical Baseline of the Upper Jordan River

The Hydropolitical Baseline of the Upper Jordan River study, undertaken by the UEA Water Security Research Centre, examines the history and current politics of water use in the basin – specifically the Liddan, Banias and Hasbani sub-basins. An interdisciplinary lens interprets the archives of French and British authorities, Lebanese and Israeli river flow data, news media, interviews and unpublished official reports. Finding the distribution of the transboundary flows to be asymmetric in the extreme, the study investigates how the inequity has been achieved and is maintained.

It also situates the Lebanon–Israel water conflict within the broader political conflict, and examines the effect of the 2006 war on water resources and water infrastructure. The study fills a gap with significance to the wider Jordan River Basin (including Syria, Jordan and the West Bank and Gaza) – and lays the baseline for the river’s equitable use.

Amongst many other findings, the study:

  • Clearly establishes the physical basis for the Liddan as an international river;
  • Identifies significant knowledge gaps in the public domain of hydrology, hydro-geology, and water use;
  • Finds that transboundary groundwater flows are of greater volume than surface water flows;
  • Provides an estimate of use of the Upper Jordan River basin (surface water and groundwater, in million cubic metres per year): Syria – 0, Lebanon – about 11, Israel – 360 to 520;
  • Shows how control of water resources can be maintained with (the Golan – Banias and groundwater recharge of the Liddan) or without (e.g. the upper Hasbani) the control of territory, and other aspects of hydro-hegemony;
  • Identifies established and emerging narratives constructed about the flows, and discusses the implications of an Israeli discourse linking water with state security on resolution of the water conflict;
  • Evaluates the importance of control over water resources with the Israeli occupation of Ghajar and the Cheba'a Farms, alongside military and religious motives;
  • Documents the extensive damage to water resources and water infrastructure during the 2006 war, in violation of the laws of armed conflict;
  • Finds that mediation by the international diplomatic community during the 2002 Wazzani Springs dispute tended towards conflict management, and away from conflict resolution; and
  • Discusses the extent to which International Water Law may form the basis of equitable use and resolution of the water conflict.

acrobat_icon Hydropolitical Baseline of the Upper Jordan River

acrobat_icon Annexes

acrobat_icon Executive Summary