The Evolution of Groundwater Exploration Methods in the Moroccan Oases through History, and Managing Ecological Risk of their Present Pollution

  • Mohammed Messouli
  • Giuseppe Messana
  • Mohamed Yacoubi-Khebiza
  • Asma El Alami El Filali
  • Ali Ait Boughrous
  • Mohamed Boulanouar
Part of the Environmental Science and Engineering book series (ESE)


Moroccan Groundwater Systems in most oases are experiencing drastic changes due both to global scale stresses, and the cumulative effects of local and regional scale changes. The adaptive capacity and resilience of GW are severely affected because of the high magnitude of drivers.

The Tafilalt Oasis is located in the Sahara SE Morocco, with an area of about 1,370 km2. Ramsar site no. 1483 which is part of UNESCO Biosphere Reserve is a site of Biological and Ecological Interest. It comprises a series of oases and the reservoir of one of the oldest dams in Morocco (Hassan Eddakhil). Significant atmospheric and desert Saharan events such as sand invasion often occur in the region affecting the world’s climate. Irrigation in the oases mostly depends on a dense and intricate network of canals distributed across the oasis. In the northern part of the Tafilalt oasis, water for irrigation canals has, since the late-14th century, also been provided by khettara (subterranean channels draining perched water tables). Starting from the early 1970s, the remaining active khettaras experienced a flow reduction, and over the next two decades many more khettaras dried up and were abandoned. The diminishing and abandonment of khettaras is attributed to the Hassan Eddakhil dam and its new reservoir upstream from the Tafilalt oasis. The dam’s control of downstream water releases has meant that many river channels downstream have water only during certain times of the year (thus affecting the Minimum Instream Flow), a phenomenon which is worsened by excessive water extraction for agriculture, human consumption and droughts that have become more common during the past two decades. Farmers are still not rapidly adopting techniques and equipment that economize water irrigation. The ground water (GW) mining in Tafilalt was enhanced by low-cost boring technology and cheaper imported and locally produced pumps. Pumps became a part and parcel of the green revolution and poverty alleviation but present development of uncontrolled GW markets threatens the sustainable use of GW reserves.


Septic System Sandy Desert Atlas Mountain Perched Water Table Motor Pump 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mohammed Messouli
    • 1
  • Giuseppe Messana
    • 2
  • Mohamed Yacoubi-Khebiza
    • 1
  • Asma El Alami El Filali
    • 1
  • Ali Ait Boughrous
    • 1
  • Mohamed Boulanouar
    • 1
  1. 1.Département de BiologieLaboratoire d’Hydrobiologie Ecotoxicologie et Assainissement Faculté des Sciences SemlaliaMarrakechMorocco
  2. 2.Istituto per lo Studio degli Ecosistemi del CNR; ISE-CNR Sede di FirenzeFirenzeItaly

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