Fes, Morocco

Water Resources of Morocco

More than any other North African country Morocco has been blessed with abundant water resources.  In addition to its many rivers there are a great many springs and aquifers scattered through most regions of the country.  Three of the four mountain ranges also provide enormous quantities of melt water from snow.  Rains can be plentiful during the winter and spring months.

During my own years in Morocco the rains occupied many days and nights during January through April, with the occasional downpour in November, December and May.  With global warming things appear to be changing.  This year there was a serious drought from November through January.  February, March and April saw less rain than usual but then the first weeks of May offered many rainy days and nights.

The brilliant thing is how intelligently some of these water resources have often been managed.  Morocco currently has some 120 reservoirs that collect water that otherwise might not be available for human and agricultural use. There also seems to be plenty of ground water available that is accessed through thousands of wells.  The bad news is that by and large Moroccans do not respect or understand the dangers of polluting its rivers and streams and some, such as the Sebou start out with pure spring water pouring out of springs and aquifers in the Middle Atlas but quickly become increasingly dangerously polluted as it winds its way to the Atlantic in the city of Kenitra.  The ancient Medina of Fez was founded because of the abundance clean water both from the Oued Fez and a multitude of springs on both sides of the hill.  Now most springs have dried up or are polluted and the river itself remains a garbage dump for many people.  There is now a project underway to clean it up but after two or three years, the smell alone is enough to turn your stomach!

For the most part, my photos attempt to capture the beauty of these water resources.  However, to be frank, I am not at all optimistic about the future of these resources. Morocco desperately needs to teach its citizens about pollution.  Entire riverbeds are covered in plastic debris while the rivers themselves likely have every poison in the book, especially considering what vast amounts of deadly insecticides are used in agriculture combined with what I suspect is the overuse of chemical fertilizers.

Desertification is also very much a man made phenomena.  One report I read stated that Morocco looses 30,000 hectares of woodland each year!  Ironically, sheep, which are so central to Islamic religious festivals (especially of course, Eid el Adhad),  seriously contribute to the desertification process through grazing.  And again, lack of serious scientific understanding among the populous about what deforestation does to the climate, and what endless millions of sheep do to plants that help retain moisture, holding desertification at bay by preventing the surface from turning entirely to sand and dust, guarantees certain disaster a short ways down the road.

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