Since the 1930s, the drinking water supply of the Rabat-Casablanca coastal area has depended on water transfers from groundwater, from Maamora, and surface water, from the Bou Regreg Basin.
Assessments carried out during the 1980s, based on patterns of water use at that time, showed that by 2010, transfers would have to be extended to include the surface water of Oued Sebu, if water requirements were to be met. The investments required to realise this water transfer together with investments in production, distribution and sanitation in the Bou Regreg Basin would have been considerable, as well as incompatible with the State budget.
This situation highlighted the importance of water demand management to balance water demand with the water available. Within this framework, a policy initiative was undertaken to contain the water demand of the area. This was based primarily on tariff measures, raising awareness of water saving opportunities among users, improved efficiency of supply (production and distribution) and involvement of the private sector in water distribution.
Implementation of this policy led to a significant reduction in water demand in the area:
- A decrease in the production of drinking water of almost 20 million m3 in Casablanca and Mohammedia between 1998 and 2000;
- A decrease in the production of drinking water of almost 10 million m3 in Rabat and Bouznika between 1998 and 2000 and a predicted drop in water demand of about 30% by 2020.
- Most importantly, investments in the expensive transfer systems can be postponed for more than 20 years.
- Strong integration of water demand management in water policies was very effective in strengthening the country´s water security;
- Involvement of the private sector in water resources management can be an effective solution to water resource management problems and
- An adequate tariff structure is the principal measure for encouraging a water economy.
Importance of the case for IWRM
Following aspects reinforce the significance of an IWRM approach:
- Water savings are likely to be produced when financial incentives are established.
- Reduction of water discharges will ensure the protection of the natural environment;
- Strong participation of water users for financing water resources management and
- Substantial reduction in investments for the realisation of works.