In Northern Algeria, the Cheliff watershed has been severely affected by a decline in runoff since the 1970s due to a decrease in rainfall. However, the sensitivity of watersheds to this decline is variable and involves complex processes. This basin contains several dams that supply the population with water for drinking as well as for irrigation purposes to ensure a good agricultural yield necessary for food security of more than 5 million inhabitants. Rational and optimal management becomes an absolute necessity in new climatic conditions. It will be done based on efficient modelling tools. The development of high-performance models is more than necessary for a better assessment of potential and risks in the short, medium and long term, to adopt an efficient strategy in the water sector which have to be in line with ground reality. To do this, the soil and water assessment tool (SWAT) is a very reliable way to simulate the hydrological behaviour of the region. In this study, the SWAT model was applied to five dam-feeding basins in the Cheliff basin and its outlet on a monthly scale. The results obtained are very satisfactory with R2 values ranging from 0.69 to 0.79, Nash–Sutcliffe efficiency coefficient between 0.68 and 0.78 and bias percentage between −21% and −1.5%. The Oued Cheliff hydrogram modelled by the SWAT at the Sidi Belattar station (basin outlet) showed that surface flow represents 58.3% and 37.3% lateral flow and 4.4% that feeds deep aquifers. The models developed will be used as decision-making tools by water-resource managers.
In northern Algeria, the Cheliff basin is strongly affected by a decline in runoff since the 1970s.
The sensitivity of watersheds to this decline is variable and involves complex processes: hydrological systems, climate change and solid transport.
We have used meteorological data, DEM, land use and land cover of the study region.
Application of the SWAT model in the Cheliff basin.
The reliability tests used show that the model output results for calibration and validation are satisfactory in studied dams and outlets.
Presence of karsts slightly affects the performance of the model.
The results serve as a decision support tool.
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This study is part of the activities of the Young Team: IRD-ENSH. The authors acknowledge the National Agency for Hydraulic Resources of Algiers with its three departments, Climatology, Hydrology and Geology for the data provided; The National Agency for Dams and Transfers, in particular, Mr Mourad Houglaouène and his team for providing data of dams and Dr Abdelhadi Ammari and Dr Abdelmadjid Boufekane of the National Higher School For Hydraulics; Dr Amine Zettam of the University of Tlemcen; Dr Sabine Sauvage and José Miguel Sanchez Perez from the Functional Ecology and Environment Laboratory (Ecolab), University of Toulouse for their precious help.
Communicated by Abhijit Mukherjee
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Zaibak, I., Meddi, M. Simulating streamflow in the Cheliff basin of west northern Algeria using the SWAT model. J Earth Syst Sci 131, 25 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12040-021-01777-x