Rabat – Low rainfall levels since 2015 have left Morocco with a national average dam filling rate of only 45%, with hydraulic basins throughout the country recording significant deficits since September 2019.
The Minister of Equipment, Logistics, and Transport, Abdelkader Amara, has said that the volume of water reserves in the country’s dams stands at approximately 7.5 billion cubic meters, or a total filling rate of around 45%.
Down from 2019’s national average dam filling rate of 54%, Morocco is struggling to meet its water needs after multiple heatwaves and an agricultural season marked by drought. Since September 1, 2019, Morocco’s dams have accumulated only 3.8 billion cubic meters of water, a 66% deficit compared to annual averages.
The country’s hydraulic basins have recorded varying water deficits this year, Morocco’s state media Maghreb Arab Press (MAP) reported, quoting Amara.
The filling rate of the Tensift dam in Marrakech is down 37%. Water reserves in the Oum Erbia dam have decreased by 47%. The Souss-Massa dam registered a 67% decline in water supply. The Bouregreg basin (-49%) and the Draa basin (-58%) also recorded drops in water reserves.
The Loukkos, Tangier, and Mediterranean basins have each recorded a 22% decrease in water supplies, while the Sebou and Moulaya basins have seen respective declines of 24% and 26%.
Every decade since 1970, the average temperature in Morocco has increased by 0.5 degrees Celsius, exceeding the global average by 0.15 degrees. Amara predicts average annual temperatures in the country to significantly increase by the year 2050 compared to the period between 1986 and 2005.
Forecasting a rise of up to three degrees Celsius, the minister stressed that such a development would have negative repercussions on Morocco’s already-dwindling water resources.
Responding to water resource challenges
Amara said the Ministry of Equipment is set to establish hydraulic basin councils in the coming days to bring together all stakeholders, such as local administrations, civil society actors, and elected officials, to discuss the country’s water management.
In order to respond to the challenges incurred by years of drought, Morocco launched a new water plan on January 13. Between 2020 and 2027, the $11.96 billion plan is set to build dozens of dams throughout the country with a combined storage capacity of 32 billion cubic meters.
The program aims to improve water supply through building dams ($6.38 billion budget), manage demand and developing irrigation systems for the agricultural sector ($2.6 billion), and secure drinking water supply in rural areas ($2.8 billion).
An envelope of $240.4 million is also set to reuse treated wastewater in the irrigation of green areas, and $5.2 million will go towards raising awareness about the importance of preserving water resources.