OPTIMA: Optimisation   for Sustainable
Water Resources Management
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Case Study: Martil River, Tetouan, MOROCCO

Morocco is characterized by a semi-arid climate marked by considerable intra- and inter annual variability as well as pronounced spatial gradients. The length of the Moroccan Mediterranean coast is 500 km, which occupies the extreme South-western corner of the Western Mediterranean basin. Renewable water resources in Morocco are evaluated at an average of about 21 billion m3/year, 16 billion from surface water or about 1,000 m3/year/inhabitant. Sebou, Bouregreg and Oum Errabia basins represent 2/3 of the country's water potential. Quantities actually utilized do not exceed 56% of the potential. Agriculture remains the largest consumer with 80% of the general consumption.

The Martil River Basin

The case study area is in the North, along the Mediterranean coast, and covers the hydrographic drainage basin of the Martil River with an area of 1,129 km² and a perimeter of 183 km, around the town of Tetouan. The basin reaches a maximum elevation of about 1,800 m, and drains into the Mediterranean Sea.

The basin includes the cities of Tetouan (population: 400,000) and Martil (population: 30,000) together with 14 smaller communities, with a total population of the Wadi Martil of about 445,000.

The drainage system includes numerous tributaries, first order channels amount to about 270 km. The system has one larger dam: Nakhla with about 5 Mm³, at an elevation of 190 masl.

The long-term average precipitation of the area amounts to 750 mm, varying between 500 mm in the plains, and up to 800 mm at higher elevations.

Legal and institutional framework

Morocco has instituted, within law 10/95, water agencies for basins. Their mission includes to contribute to water resources protection. The strategy related to water stands on a fundamental principle which considers water as a limited resource requiring optimal management and protection against all forms of pollution. The goals of the National Action Plan for Environment include:
  1. reinforcing integrated management of water resources;
  2. improving groundwater resources;
  3. controlling demand on water;
  4. combating all forms of water pollution and protecting public health against water related disease;
  5. improving conditions of access to water; and
  6. developing the use of incidental waters.
Managing water as an economic resource, through the recognition of its full economic value, as well as through the use of economic incentive instruments, is among the key characteristics of the National Water Plan being prepared by the General Directorate of Hydraulics. There are serious institutional, legal, social and economic problems, which exacerbate water allocation and environmental pollution problems. Water allocation is a major problem, which has to be optimized among various competing water uses under environmental as well as institutional, legal, social, and economic constraints. Another regional problem is flooding.

The institutional partners involved in Water Resources Management include the Water Agency for Basin Loukkous (ABHL), the General Directorate of Hydraulics (DGH), the Royal Centre for Remote sensing (CRTS), the National Office for Drinking Water (ONEP), Ministry of Land Management, Water and Environment (MATEE), Ministry of Agriculture(MADR), Mohammadia School of Engineering (EMI).

PowerPoint presentation   (Malta, October 2004).

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