The Future Of Water Security In Morocco: A Bold Step Forward – OpEd

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On Monday, Crown Prince Moulay El Hassan inaugurated a groundbreaking project in Commune Lamharza Essahel, in the province of El Jadida: the construction of the Casablanca seawater desalination plant. This facility, poised to become the largest of its kind in Africa, represents a monumental stride towards ensuring water security for Morocco. With an anticipated annual production capacity of 300 million cubic meters, it is expected to benefit 7.5 million people.

This project underscores the commitment and vision of His Majesty King Mohammed VI, may God assist Him, in addressing the strategic issue of water. In a time marked by significant rainfall deficits and immense pressure on traditional water resources, this initiative could not be more timely. The plant is a cornerstone of the “Improvement of Water Supply” axis of the National Program for Drinking Water Supply and Irrigation 2020-2027. Launched by His Majesty the King, this comprehensive program aims to tackle the kingdom’s water challenges with a budget projected to reach 143 billion dirhams.

The new desalination plant will serve the growing water demands of Greater Casablanca, Settat, Berrechid, Bir Jdid, and their neighboring regions. Spanning 50 hectares, the project will unfold in two phases, with a total investment of 6.5 billion dirhams, funded through a public-private partnership. By the end of 2026, the first phase is expected to be operational, delivering 548,000 cubic meters of treated water per day, equivalent to 200 million cubic meters annually. The second phase, slated for completion by mid-2028, will expand capacity to 822,000 cubic meters per day, adding another 100 million cubic meters annually, with 50 million designated for agricultural use.

This ambitious endeavor involves not only the construction of a state-of-the-art desalination unit utilizing reverse osmosis technology but also the development of an extensive potable water transport system. This system includes three pumping stations, three storage reservoirs, and a distribution network stretching nearly 130 kilometers. The transport infrastructure alone demands a budget of 3 billion dirhams, financed by public funds.

The Casablanca seawater desalination plant is designed with the latest technological advancements. It will feature dual seawater intake pipelines totaling 1850 meters, a 2500-meter discharge pipeline, pressure filters, microfilters, and a comprehensive sludge treatment unit. Additionally, a control and management center will oversee the fully automated operations of the plant, ensuring efficiency and reliability. Remarkably, the plant’s operations will be powered entirely by renewable energy, aligning with Morocco’s sustainability goals. The cost of potable water production is estimated at a competitive 4.48 DH/m³.

As Morocco faces increasing water scarcity challenges, this project marks a significant leap towards sustainable water management. It highlights the importance of innovation and strategic planning in securing vital resources for future generations. The Casablanca desalination plant is not just an infrastructure project; it is a beacon of hope and a testament to Morocco’s forward-thinking approach to one of the most pressing issues of our time.

Said Temsamani

Said Temsamani is a Moroccan political observer and consultant, who follows events in his country and across North Africa. He is a member of Washington Press Club.

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