American University of Beirut

Test the Water


 Citizen Driven Water Quality Monitoring and Remediation

  • Background
Recent findings indicate Lebanon is currently facing water quality (WQ) contamination at an unprecedented and concerning scale (Lebanon Crisis Response Plan, 2017-2020). The most widespread contamination of water resources in Lebanon is driven by the following issues of primary public concern; 1) lack of wastewater treatment (only 8 percent of wastewater is treated before disposal), 2) agricultural runoff (recent testing on select boreholes in Beqaa Valley found nitrate levels at more than 10 times the WHO safe limit), and 3) saltwater intrusion in coastal areas (salinity of some domestic supply wells in Beirut is close to that of seawater). 

  • Project Description
Test the Water (TTW), brings forward an innovative process to turn the tide on responding to water quality contamination. TTW draws on sustained expert support, digital tools, and more robust citizen WQ testing in a participatory approach to widely assessing and remediating the social, technical, and management issues behind poor WQ. 

This project is designed to make the complexities of improving WQ easier and the drive for remediation stronger by using science and a participatory approach as tools for all people to better understand and apply evidence to improve their wellbeing.

  • Method
TTW’s approach builds practical and personalized community knowledge on science that can be used in daily lives while giving citizens a personal stake in remediating contamination that was previously considered out of hand (Conrad and Hilc​hey, 2011; Fore et al., 2001). This encourages the intervention of laypersons in local concerns using scientific research and co-creation workshops as tools to build self efficacy and collective efficacy in advancing short term and long term solutions using evidence collected with and for citizens (Wiggins and Crowston, 2011). 

The proposed project applies the action-oriented citizen science process to the environmental risks case of poor water quality in a Lebanese community, the village of Saghbine in the West Bekaa. A group of 120 households of residents in Saghbine were randomly selected and randomly assigned to one of two groups: “control" and “test". TTW will be facilitated by a digital platform, water quality test kits, and solution co-creation workshops.

All the participants are surveyed to understand the capacity of the action-oriented citizen science process to increase trust and motivation and self-efficacy for environmental action. In addition to that, participants of the test group are asked questions about their capacity of learning and doing science and they are given water testing kits to perform two campaigns (spring and winter) of water testing at home. Participants will use the water testing kits provided by the research team to determine Nitrate/Nitrite and Chloride levels and Bacteriological contamination's presence in their tap water. During each campaign, participants will test their water once a week. This periodical testing in addition to the geographical distribution of the “test" households will allow for a better understanding of the variation of WQ in time and space.  

​​ ​​

  • Expected outcomes​

The measured variables surveyed have relevance to entrepreneurial and organizational development, but it is unknown if the action-oriented citizen science process can be a means to increasing self-efficacy in challenging contexts such as the targeted Lebanese community. This project will serve as a pilot to apply in other communities facing WQ issues. ​

  • Latest Activities and Progress

Our team distributed the pre-study surveys and collected the responses and had a workshop with the “test" group on March 5th in Saghbine, in the presence of Dr. Saliba. We explained to the participants the aim of the project, distributed the kits and pamphlets, demonstrated the use of the kits, and had a Q&A session. 


Contact Us

For various questions, please try contacting us via social media first!
read more

Privacy Statement

We take data privacy seriously and adhere to all applicable data privacy laws and regulations.
read more

Copyright and Disclaimer

Written permission is needed to copy or disseminate all or part of the materials on the AUB website.
read more

Title IX, Non-Discrimination, and Anti-Discriminatory Harassment

AUB is committed to providing a safe, respectful, and inclusive environment to all members of its community.
read more