2nd edition of the Business Dialogue on water: Desalination, a sustainable way to respond to water stress in Morocco?

In a country where agriculture occupies a prominent place, solutions for optimized water use are developing strongly through agritech and watertech.

During the 2nd edition of the Business Dialogue initiated by the General Confederation of Moroccan Enterprises (CGEM) and the Moroccan Coalition for Water (COALMA), which took place in Marrakech on Friday 13 May, the Minister of Equipment and Water, Nizar Baraka, urged insisted on the need to resort to the desalination of seawater off the coast. This choice therefore makes it possible to safeguard and secure the needs of the populations living on the coast and to free up sufficient water for the inner regions.

The minister therefore stressed the need to mobilize unconventional water resources, underlining the government’s desire to accelerate the water desalination process. Referring to the agricultural sector, the minister said that currently 700,000 hectares have already been converted drop by drop with the aim of reaching 1,000,000 hectares by 2026. It should be noted that this meeting is intended to discuss ways to strengthen Morocco’s water security through the integrating the private sector upstream in developing strategies and using diversified solutions, including the use of unconventional water resources. A platform for sharing experiences, this second edition of the Business Dialogue saw the participation of the President of the CGEM, Chakib Alj, the Minister of Industry and Trade, Ryad Mezzour, as well as leading national and international experts in the public and private sectors. .

CGEM President Chakib Alj highlighted Morocco’s efforts to tackle the water issues and called for greater involvement of all stakeholders, especially the private sector. The Kingdom is located in a region most affected by the damaging effects of climate change and water is the main sector affected, he said. To meet these challenges, Mr. Alj underlined the need to act together by making urgent choices and strategic decisions. “It’s a shared responsibility,” he said. The head of the CGEM advocated the use of unconventional waters by developing more new solutions for the mobilization of water resources, in particular through sustainable seawater desalination technologies using renewable energy sources, but also through the reuse of treated wastewater.

Mr Alj also specified that “all this can be achieved through governance of the water sector, ensuring the upstream involvement of the private sector and other stakeholders in planning policy, or even the use of innovative financing through public-private partnerships or purely private investment for certain projects”. He further pointed out that in a country where agriculture is predominant, solutions for optimized water use are developing strongly via agritech and watertech. Mr Alj also noted that innovative technologies have been multiplying for several years, supporting industries for better water efficiency and efficiency, sizing and installing wastewater treatment plants. For his part, Ryad Mezzour pointed out that the decrease in the cost of renewable energy sources could contribute to the competitiveness of water desalination processes. Morocco has low-cost renewable energy production capacity, one of the best in the world, he noted. According to Mr Mezzour, the current challenge is to spend some of this production on water desalination. The minister also mentioned a proactive water treatment plan that focuses on active and polluting industrial zones and foresees the relocation of polluting activities, especially related to leather, to zones that offer the possibility to treat waste water in accordance with international standards.

Water stress: Lydec shares his experience

As a founding member of Coalma, Lydec contributed to this important event to share his experience as a reference operator in the management of public services, supporting the development and sustainable urbanization of the metropolis of Casablanca for 25 years. Lydec CEO Jean-Pascal Darriet highlighted the critical water situation in many of the country’s hydraulic basins. “We certainly won’t have enough water in the coming years or even months…

We must consume responsibly. In addition to the smart technologies we use to conserve water resources, we are working to make alternative water sources available, especially through the reuse of treated wastewater,” he emphasized. As a reminder, Lydec is committed to acting in favor of the sustainable management of natural resources, biodiversity and the climate, as part of its 2030 Sustainable Development Roadmap, which is structured around 3 Commitments and 12 Objectives at the Sustainable Transition Department of the Casablanca-Settat region.

Last year, Lydec “listened” to about 18,000 km of networks during nighttime inspections. The teams discovered and repaired nearly 16,700 water leaks in pipes, connections and metering stations, saving more than 10 million m³ of drinking water by 2021 and more than 74 million m³ of water compared to 1997, which corresponds to the annual amount of water needed by more than 1 .2 million inhabitants.

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