The Oriental will have its seawater desalination station

The Executive will soon initiate the process of studies of the declination of the seawater desalination station project in the Oriental region. The future platform will have a capacity of 100 Mm³ expandable to 200 Mm³. It will strengthen the water resources of Basse Moulouya in order to first secure the supply of drinking water to the towns of Nador, Oujda, Berkane, Taourirt, Saïdia and related centres. Similarly, the plant will eventually reserve part of its capacity to meet certain irrigation water needs in Lower Moulouya.

The government continues to implement its water management strategy to deal with the effects of climate change. After the entry into service of the seawater desalination station in the Souss and the progress of the technical studies for that of Casablanca-Settat, the department in charge of Water is working on the declination studies for the implementation in place of a station in the Oriental. The project falls within the framework of the partnership agreement signed recently in the region and which relates to the financing and the realization of structuring operations at the level of the hydraulic basin of Moulouya. Indeed, the desalination plant project in the Oriental region is one of the urgent actions carried out by this agreement.

The future platform will have a capacity of 100 Mm³ expandable to 200 Mm³. It will strengthen the water resources of Basse Moulouya in order to secure first and foremost the supply of drinking water (AEP) to the towns of Nador, Oujda, Berkane, Taourirt, Saïdia and related centres. The desalination plant will eventually have to contribute to the satisfaction of certain irrigation water needs at the level of Basse Moulouya. This option could be proposed and defined by the services of the Department of Agriculture at the start of the project unloading studies. “The integration of these needs for agriculture, if ever identified, in the first or second phase of the project, will be decided within the framework of the study, in consultation with the parties concerned”, specify the services of the Ministry of Equipment and water.

Climate change increases the region’s water needs

It should be remembered that the Oriental region is mainly supplied by the Mohammed V–Mechraa Homadi dam complex, part of the Moulouya basin. This complex meets both the drinking water supply of the Nador-Zaio area and the Oriental area encompassing Oujda, Taourirt, Berkane and all associated localities with an overall demand for drinking water supply of approximately 147 billion m³ per year by 2050, as well as the irrigation of large agricultural areas of Lower Moulouya (Great Hydraulics) extending over more than 69,000 ha with an agricultural water demand of around 500 Mm³/year currently. But the problem is that the hydraulic basin of Moulouya faces a multitude of challenges which jeopardize the security of supply for the cities of the Oriental region, in particular the area of ​​Nador-Zaio, as well as the sustainability of investments. of the Grande Hydraulique (GH) of Lower Moulouya. According to the Ministry, at the top of the challenges is the net decrease in inputs in recent years and the effect of climate change. Result, an increase in the recurrence of sequences of droughts.

Indeed, in recent years, a reduction in inputs has considerably impacted the supply of agricultural perimeters in the area, with average inputs during the years 2019-2020 and 2020-2021 reaching 470 billion m³ per year and 436 Mm3/ year respectively compared to average inflows of around 830 Mm³/year (1939-2017). In addition, the problem of siltation is acute in the basin, and more specifically at the level of the Mohammed V dam, with a siltation rate of around 10 Mm³/year. This causes a reduction in its storage capacity and consequently the reduction of water supplies from the dam and a disruption of the supply of drinking water, irrigation and the production of hydroelectric energy. In order to deal with this increasingly growing imbalance between supply and demand in the Oriental region, actions have been taken.

These include the project to raise the Mohammed V dam which was launched in 2020 to increase its storage capacity to nearly one billion m³. But given the effects of climate change which continued to accentuate the vulnerability of water resources in this region, recourse to the development of unconventional waters, the desalination of sea water in this case, is proving more and more more essential in the eyes of the ministry. The objective is to diversify the drinking water supply sources of the cities of the region and to improve the resilience of the Great Hydraulics of lower Moulouya in the face of climate change.




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