Casablanca, 2 October 2018: feedback on the conference “What potential for waste water?”
The demographic and urban growth in Southern and eastern Mediterranean countries as well as the development of agricultural and industrial productions are pressuring water resources. In view of the steady increase of water demand, waste water, which has long been considered as a burden to eradicate, is becoming part of the solution to the challenges that face Mediterranean and African societies today.
In line with the Global report of the United Nations on the use of water resources 2017 and with the works carried out by IPEMED, the round table organised on the Espace Afrique of Pollutec Maroc aimed to show that a better treatment of waste water, an increase in water reuse and the recycling of derivative products favour, in the long term, the transition towards a circular economy.
Morocco is facing a water-stress situation and is conducting a proactive policy in this regard. The Act 36-15 on water, enacted on 10 August 2010, devotes a whole chapter to the use of unconventional water. To illustrate this potential, Nour el Houda EL HAMOUMI, Senior Technical Advisor, Programme d’Appui à la Gestion Intégrée des Ressources en Eau [Supporting Programme to the Integrated Management of Water Resources] (AGIRE, GIZ) presented the ecological sanitation projects carried out by the German cooperation, especially in Dayet Ifrah and Ait Idir (cf. presentation below). The originality of these projects, carried out in rural areas, lies in the fact that they documented all the steps, they offered a panel of ecological technical solutions, that were cheap and adapted to the local market, and they offered a participative management.
On their own, these decentralised solutions will not address all the challenges: in Morocco, the reusable volume of treated waste water by 2030 is estimated at 325 m3 per year. Today, the reused volume only accounts for 25% of the reusable potential. It is thus necessary to take into account the specificities and needs of the relevant territory to offer adapted infrastructures and a mix of simple solutions. For example, the Mediouna STEP, presented by Mohamed HAJRAOUI, Head of the Treatment Department, Lydec, is sized for 40,000 population equivalents, with a future extension of 80,000 population equivalents, and currently has a treatment capacity of 3,800 m3/d.
Michel NALBANDIAN, General Director of the Société des Eaux de Marseille Maroc, unveiled a few results of the assessment carried out on waste water treatment plants performances in the country. He particularly insisted on the necessity to remove a certain number of constraints (technical, regulatory, financial, organisational, professional, etc.) and to adapt the quality of treated waste water to its future use, following the example of the private sector’s experiences.
François CHAINE, in charge of development at CHEMDOC, elaborated on this observation and reminded the necessity to change the mentalities regarding REUSE and to fight against preconceived ideas: for instance, REUSE is cheaper than sea water desalination (€0.5/0.6/m3 against €1/m3 in average). As regards funding, Michel NALBANDIAN reminded the new credit line, complemented by a technical assistance programme, implemented by the BMCE to support the funding of the “industrial waste water treatment” in Morocco, in partnership with international donors. Mohamed HAJRAOUI highlighted that REUSE projects could benefit from climate funding.
To conclude, Kelly ROBIN, Project Manager at IPEMED, and Olivier CHAZAL, of Club ADEME International, highlighted the cultural and social obstacles that can exist in terms of REUSE. Like all participants, they asked for more support and for an increased effort in demonstration and training. Finally, they called for more cooperation among French, European, Mediterranean and African actors. France is in no position to give lectures as it only directly reuses 0.2% of its treated waste water.