March 25, 2023

The eastern region, like other regions of Morocco, is facing a real problem with water abundance, whether drinking or agricultural irrigation, as it starts to lead to rainfall shortages and declines in dams, groundwater levels and water per capita. Finding different solutions to this situation, which Nizar Baraka, Minister of Equipment and Water Resources, has repeatedly described as “worrisome”.

Among the solutions that have been actively proposed over the past few years is the establishment of seawater desalination plants, an area in which Morocco has gained a lot of experience since the establishment of the first plant in 1973 in the city of Tarfaya, despite the lack of efforts to strengthen this area as a reliable infrastructure to maintain water security. For Moroccans, “dam policy” has remained at the top of the list of concerns of successive Moroccan governments since the 1970s, and dozens of large, small and hilly dams are still under consideration. a list expected to be completed by 2030.

Finally, Nizar Baraka, Minister of Equipment and Water Resources, announced the establishment of a desalination plant in Nador province next year as part of a project to complete a group of similar plants at the national level by royal decree.

In this context, Abdel Nabi Baavi, Chairman of the Shark Region Council, said that this station will be established on the site between Ras El Maa and the city of Nador, where it is planned to start studying the project. until the end of this year, taking into account its implementation in 2023, taking into account its relevance.

In a statement to Hespress, Baavi said the station would help raise drinking water levels in the region and face “water scarcity” and could also be used to irrigate some trees and plants in case of emergency.

For his part, Kamal Aberkani, a professor at the Nador Multidisciplinary College, said that this plant, which will have an initial capacity of 100 million cubic meters and is designed for drinking, is “an ambitious project that will reduce the load on dams so that water from dams previously designed for drinking water supply, could be directed to the needs of agriculture.

Aberkani added in a statement to Hespress that “Given national experience at the Shtouka Ait Baha plant level and international experience such as the Almería region in Spain, which also depends on several seawater desalination plants, it appears that this is an effective solution for treating water stress.”

On the other hand, the spokesperson believes that this project will take years to materialize while the east is facing an impending drought which, unless drinking water is brought in, will create a real problem for fruit trees in the region. especially citrus fruits.

Aberkany also warned that given the cost of each cubic meter of desalinated water at these stations, the condition of the network of canals connecting the beneficiary cities with drinking water must be taken into account, noting that this water, which is considered a solution only in the absence of rain, should not be allowed to waste it. in leak channels.

To mitigate the impact of drought on agriculture in the region, the agricultural expert proposes to support groundwater desalination plants for the benefit of farmers, as well as encourage the cultivation of salt-tolerant crops and medicinal and aromatic plants to compensate for water-demanding crops such as sugar beets. , in addition to direct sowing included in the green generation strategy (1 million hectares by 2030).

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