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International Journal of Civil Engineering and Technology (IJCIET)
Volume 10, Issue 04, April 2019, pp. 556-565, Article ID: IJCIET_10_04_057
Available online at http://www.iaeme.com/ijciet/issues.asp?JType=IJCIET&VType=10&IType=04
ISSN Print: 0976-6308 and ISSN Online: 0976-6316
© IAEME Publication
Scopus Indexed
INFLUENCE OF CLIMATE AND LAND USE
CHANGE ON THE SURFACE WATER QUALITY
OF THE MIDDLE OUERRHA, TAOUNATE, RIF
– MOROCCO
Ahmed El Bakouri*, Khadija El Kharrim, Driss Belghyti
Team of Waters, Wastewaters, Laboratory of Environment and Quality, Faculty of Sciences,
Ibn Tofail University, Kenitra, Morocco
Mohamed Tayebi
Team of Valorisation of Georesources and Territorial Planning, Laboratory of Geosciences
and Environment, Faculty of Sciences, Ibn Tofail University, Kenitra, Morocco
*Corresponding Author
ABSTRACT
The region of Middle Ouerrha located in the south rifain slope, is the rainiest area
of Morocco. However, the impermeability of its lands formed mainly of Cretaceous
marls, prevents the development of water resources, since, surface waters are
vulnerable to several natural and anthropogenic constraints. Therefore, the main
objective of the project is to understand the impact of climate variation and soil
distribution on surface water quality.
Maximum precipitation is recorded at the Bab Ouender station in November and
December, between 112.06 and 115.12 mm respectively. From a land use point of view,
the majority of dominated soils are of poorly developed soil type along streams. The
environmental study of the surface waters shows a degradation by the effluents of oil
mills during the period of trituration of the vegetable waters. This critical situation
affecting water resources in the Middle Ouerrha region requires good management to
minimize the shortage, especially with the increase in meteorological drought.
Key words: Surface waters, Precipitation, Soils, Middle Ouerrha, Morocco.
Cite this Article: Ahmed El Bakouri, Khadija El Kharrim, Driss Belghyti and
Mohamed Tayebi, Influence of Climate and Land Use Change on the Surface Water
Quality of the Middle Ouerrha, Taounate, Rif – Morocco. International Journal of Civil
Engineering and Technology, 10(04), 2019, pp. 556-565
http://www.iaeme.com/IJCIET/issues.asp?JType=IJCIET&VType=10&IType=04
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Ahmed El Bakouri, Khadija El Kharrim, Driss Belghyti and Mohamed Tayebi
1. INTRODUCTION
Climate change and its effects have so far mainly been approached from a global perspective,
based on an assessment of the evolution of the major parameters (precipitation, temperature,
etc.) that determine the planet's climatic equilibrium.
In the Mediterranean area and in particular in North Africa, the water resources sector is
among the most vulnerable to climate variability making the evolution of the resource in the
context of climate change a matter of concern for most countries in the zone. Morocco is not
excluded from this concern especially that the water resource is of a certain socio-economic
value [1].
Soils come largely from the alteration of the rocks immediately underlying, present in the
Rif in the form of marls, sandstone and especially flyschs. In the study area, soils are semiarid; erode mainly in ravines and gullies, which contribute a lot to feed the solid flow of river
water. Intensity and erosion patterns vary by region and subregion.
Transformation of natural lands to different land uses including built environments
increases the generation and transmission of pollutants to receiving water bodies [2, 3].
Consequently, urban water quality is degraded, posing risks to human and aquatic ecosystem.
This underlines the need to implement effective strategies to mitigate the adverse impacts on
the receiving water environment [4].
2. STUDY AREA
The studied region is located in the North of Morocco, Figure 1, it is among the most watered
areas. It receives directly the wet winds of the North-West and West. During the winter, the
atmospheric disturbances are reflected in the region by abundant rains, which reach 1380 mm
at Taounate (Bab Ouennder station). Rainwater is drained by a dense hydrographic network
well hierarchized. The climate prevailing throughout the Middle Ouerrha is of continental type,
it is manifested by rainy winds on the West sector and on the slopes of the Rif. Two main rivers
drain the region, Oued Sra and Oued Ouerrha, the main tributary of Sebou, crosses the study
area from East to West with a trajectory whose concavity is turned towards the North. It traces
a series of meanders in a wide valley of 2 to 5 Km.
3. METHODS
Surface water samples were selected from two main streams in the study area. Two stations
were prospected in Oued Ouerrha (Beni Oulid Bridge and Sahel Mrah) and two others in its
tributary Oued Sra (Askar and Khemalcha), Figure 1. The various sampling campaigns were
carried out during, May, August, November 2016 and February 2017.
The different physicochemical parameters of the waters are carried out as follows:





The temperature was measured in situ by an alcohol thermometer.
The pH of the analyzed water is measured using an ADWA brand pH meter, Model
AD1030 with combined electrode.
Conductivity by OHAUS Brand Conductivity Meter, Starter Model ST3100C-F.
Turbidity was determined by a turbidimeter, Brand HACH Model 2100N.
The orthophosphates and the phenol index are carried out by a UV spectrometer,
Marque SECOMAM, Model UVILINE 9400.
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Influence of Climate and Land Use Change on the Surface Water Quality of the Middle Ouerrha,
Taounate, Rif – Morocco
Figure 1. Location of the study area (Middle Ouerrha, Taounate – Morocco)
4. RESULT
4.1. Hydroclimatology
4.1.1. Monthly precipitation
Understanding of the historic and likely future conditions of water quality and famed optical
transparency requires consideration of the input of water, nutrients and sediment from the
watershed and from the atmosphere [5, 6, 7].
Rainfall is one of the most important parameters of climate. It has a great influence on the
hydrological regime of rivers. The average monthly highs observed over a period of 35 years
(1981-82 / 2015-2016) is represented in two stations, Bab Ouennder upstream from Oued
Ouerrha and Ain Aicha downstream.
Rainfall is spread over the whole year with two maximums in November and December;
112.06 and 115.12 mm in the Bab Ouennder station, and 83.47 and 79 mm in the Aїn Aїcha
station, Figure 2 (a). In addition, the precipitation recorded in the second station is relatively
low compared to the first. This is due to continentality, which is greatly exaggerated by the
extent, altitude and orientation of the orographic zones that surround it, and which have the
effect of blocking and exhausting the hot fonts carrying rain, Figure 3.
4.1.2. Monthly average debits
The flow rate of a watercourse is the volume of water passing through a cross-section of the
flow per unit of time. It is usually expressed in cubic meters per second.
The monthly flow regime of the Middle Ouerrha watershed generally has two periods:
 From November to April, corresponds to the period of high water. The average
monthly maximum flow is recorded in February in Ain Aicha station (56.45 m³/s);
 May to October is the summer season when precipitation is scarce and surface
runoff is low, Figure 2 (b).
The catchment of Ouerrha with an area of 6190 Km², is considered to be the largest in the
Sebou basin, with a specific modulus of 13.91 L/s/Km², an average annual runoff of 439 mm
and a contribution of annual average of 2715 Mm³.
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4.1.3. Flow/precipitation relationship
In order to establish a hydropluviometric relationship, that is to say the influence of
precipitation on river flows. We studied the relationship of these two components in the two
hydrological stations:
 In the Bab Ouennder station, the precipitation curve shows two peaks (November
and December), whereas the flows show two peaks in December and February.
 In the Ain Aicha station, the precipitation curve always shows two maximums in
November and December, while flows in January and February.
So note that there are three periods:
 From September to the beginning of November: we have food and reconstitution of
the different reserves (soil, groundwater, etc.).
 From the end of November to February: the distribution of rainfall is important and
later the surface processes, such as surface runoff, will be important in the
production areas. So we have direct feed from the river.
 From March to August: precipitation begins to decrease and the total flow is
significantly fed by snowmelt, Figure 2 (a, b, c, d).
So we have direct feed from the river.
Figure 2. Hydroclimatic parameters of the Middle Ouerrha, Taounate – Morocco
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Influence of Climate and Land Use Change on the Surface Water Quality of the Middle Ouerrha,
Taounate, Rif – Morocco
Figure 3. Exposure of the slopes of the Middle Ouerrha, Taounate – Morocco
4.2. Land use
Changes in land use have a direct impact on receiving water quality. Effective mitigation
strategies require the accurate prediction of water quality in order to enhance community
wellbeing and ecosystem health. The climate change induced extreme precipitation events and
the rapid urbanization induced land use and land cover changes boost the storm water pollution
loads due to the washing away of road-deposited sediment and its adsorbed organic pollutants,
polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons [8, 9].
The soil mapping and pedological general plan of the Taounate area was carried out during
this study, Figure 4. The distribution of soils comes essentially from the alteration of the rocks
immediately underlying, present in the Rif in the form of marls, sandstone and especially
flyschs. The characteristics of these soils are highly dependent on the source rock from which
they come and this in the relief areas [10]. Hill soils are superficial and eroded; they consist of
a low silty-gravel layer based on the rock in place. On soft rocks, its thickness is maintained
by plowing, which attacks each year the upper layer of rock in place.
The recent alluvium and colluvium are regosols and do not show any differentiation of
profiles. Older allvions have sometimes been tirsified in relation to a marly origin of alluvium
and often rubefied with acidification.
The erosion of the Rif soils are in a very bad situation because of their often impermeable
nature and the very unfavorable rains regime, on slopes strong to very strong. In some places,
solifluction deposits exist especially above 800 m. They have a calmer relief and a pedogenesis
influenced by the different climates and vegetations they have known since their establishment.
These deposits cover the oldest rocks with a thick layer with a softer relief. These soils are
generally calcareous brown or forest soils of a fairly acidic type.
The different series of soils encountered mostly in the study area, on the prerifaine marls
belong to the following groups:
 Poorly developped soil no climatic, on fine texture material, based on marl.
 Vertisols external drainage, on Quaternary alluvium or colluvium.
 Complex formed by the association of poorly developed soils of regosolic erosion
on limestone marl, and modal brown calcareous soils.
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






Complex formed by mineral soils of erosion, lithosols, poorly developed soils of
erosion regosolic shallow and colluvial contribution moderately deep on flyschs.
Raw mineral soil no climatic.
Fersiallitic.
Calcareous brown soils calcimagnesic with carbonates on marls limestone, marls
sandy or fluvio-lacustrine formation.
Brown soil of intergrades of temperate climates, acidic and vertic, on material of
fine texture, based locally on schists.
Isomhumic with saturated complex evolving under a fresh pedo-climate during the
rainy season on clay alluvium of medium terraces.
Hydromorphic soils slightly humiferous at pseudogley.
Figure 4. Land use of the Middle Ouerrha, Taounate – Morocco
4.3. Surface water quality
The different physicochemical parameters of surface water are shown in table 1:
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4.3.1. Temperature (T)
Plays an important role in the functioning of aquatic ecosystems. Indeed, it influences the
solubility of oxygen, as well as other elements. Depends on daily and seasonal variations in
ambient temperature and anthropogenic discharges [11]. The seasonal variation of the
temperature shows a slight fluctuation, the lowest values are recorded during the February 2017
campaign, with a minimum of 12 ° C; the maximum value is recorded during the summer
period (August 2016) of 26.5 °C.
4.3.2. pH
The pH of the water can be used to determine the acidity, basicity or alkalinity of a water. It
measures the concentration of H+ protons contained in the water. The measurement of the pH,
can give information on the different chemical forms of the elements present in the water, the
release of heavy metals by the solid matrix, as well as their toxicity [12]. The surface waters of
the middle Ouerrha are characterized by a basic pH, since in most stations the pH is close to 8.
4.3.3. Electrical conductivity (EC)
The conductivity of a watercourse depends on the drained substrate; the least mineralized
waters drain quartzose sandstones and granites, while the most mineralized waters drain
evaporites rich in halite or gypsum. The conductivity of surface waters is generally less than
1500 μs/cm [13]. Oued Ouerrha is characterized by strong mineralization especially in the
upstream part (Beni Oulid Bridge Station), the maximum value is recorded in November 2016
(2710 μs/cm), this value is greater than that determined by Zhang and al. (2014) [14], of 2340
μs/cm raised in surface water. The increase of the conductivity and subsequently the ionic
forces of the waters and by ion exchange, allows the release of adsorbed metals on sedimentary
particles [15].
4.3.4. Turbidity
In stagnant waters, turbidity is due to colloidal or fine dispersions. However in fast flowing
rivers, particles are characterized by a larger size, since most particles are inorganic in the
watercourse [16]. The high turbidity value recorded in the Beni Oulid Bridge station during the
summer period is due to the Asfellou Dam water (61.9 NTU), consequently, the waters
downstream of Oued Ouerrha become trouble, Figure 5 (a).
4.3.5. Orthophosphates (PO34)
Orthophosphates come from part of the hydrolysis of inorganic phosphate and organic
phosphorus. They can result from washing and cleaning products, industrial waste
(slaughterhouses, specialized industrial and chemical laundries, etc.) and agricultural waste
[17]. As nitrates are a major nutrient plant and can cause their proliferation from 0.2 mg P/L.
They constitute the limiting element of eutrophication phenomena [18]. The spatiotemporal
variation of orthophosphates in surface waters shows very high levels in the Khemalcha station
with slight fluctuations, ranging from 0.05 to 4 mg P/L, Table 1 and Figure 5 (b).
4.3.6. Phenol index
Usually refers to, as phenol index is a set of hydroxylated compounds of benzene. Its presence
in water has most often, originated from industrial pollution. These products oxidize weakly;
they bind little and filter easily [19]. The margins are characterized by an acidic pH of 3 to 5
and a very high electrical conductivity. They can be considered as a complex charged with
organic and mineral matter [20]. In November 2016 the results show very high concentrations
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in surface water compared with other campaigns (0.35 mg/L in Sahel Mrah station), The
general limit value for rejection to surface waters is 0.5 mg/L. This increase is mainly due to
effluent rejection from huileries (Margins), their release into aquatic environments leads to a
decrease in the concentration of dissolved oxygen, since these phenolic compounds oxidize
easily with the oxygen of the medium, which renders the environment unbreathable with
asphyxiation of all aquatic life.
Table1. Physicochemical analyzes of the surface waters of the middle Ouerrha, Taounate – Morocco
Station
T
°C
Askar
Khemalcha
Beni Oulid Bridge
Sahel Mrah
22
22.5
21
18
Askar
Khemalcha
Beni Oulid Bridge
Sahel Mrah
21
26.5
22
24
Parameter
pH
EC
Turbidity
pH unit
µs/cm
NTU
May 2016 Campaign
8.82
496
5.5
8.00
1628
41.6
8.29
1853
5.4
8.16
1751
40.3
PO34
mg P/L
Phenol index
mg/L
<0.05
4.0
<0.05
<0.05
<0.05
<0.05
<0.05
<0.05
<0.05
1.45
<0.05
<0.05
<0.05
<0.05
<0.05
<0.05
0.09
0.55
0.08
0.09
0.11
0.32
0.24
0.34
<0.02
0.05
<0.02
<0.02
0.02
<0.01
0.32
0.03
August 2016 Campaign
8.38
8.40
7.97
8.15
429
978
1598
1219
1.97
10.60
61.9
2.8
November 2016 Campaign
Askar
Khemalcha
Beni Oulid Bridge
Sahel Mrah
16.5
17.5
14
15.5
7.27
8.42
7.81
8.01
660
1431
2710
2390
1.54
14.2
2.28
8.43
February 2017 Campaign
Askar
Khemalcha
Beni Oulid Bridge
Sahel Mrah
14
14.25
12
12.5
8.44
8.62
8.14
8.28
296
385
1428
1217
a) Sahel Mrah station
5.64
4.05
35.7
8.59
b) Khemalcha station
Figure 5. Sampling sites of the downstream stations of the Oued Ouerrha and its tributary Oued Sra
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5. CONCLUSIONS
The study of the evolution of rainfall and flow rates, as well as breaks in time series, revealed
three meteorologically distinct periods:
 From September to the beginning of November: we have food and reconstitution of
the different reserves (soil, groundwater, etc.). So flows are weakly influenced by
precipitation.
 From late November to February: rainfall distribution is important and subsequently
surface processes, such as surface runoff, will be important in production areas. So
we have a direct supply to the river.
 From March to August: precipitation begins to decrease and the total flow is
significantly fed by snowmelt.
Global warming and rainfall decline are in addition to the intrinsic conditions of the Middle
Ouerrha region, notably the impermeability of the land and the lack of a groundwater reservoir
to increase its vulnerability to water scarcity.
This critical situation requires the adaptation of good meteorological water management
methods as the only water source in this region.
The analysis of surface water quality and land use showed that turbidity, and other
nutriments are released into receiving waters from the Water environment, which consists of
wetland ecosystems and water bodies.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
I would like to thank my work team of Ibn Tofail University, Sebou Hydraulic Basin Agency
of Fez; and all reviewers for their revision and evaluation on the manuscript.
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