The Added Value of Water Footprint Assessment for National Water Policy: A Case Study for Morocco

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Abstract

A Water Footprint Assessment is carried out for Morocco, mapping the water footprint of different activities at river basin and monthly scale, distinguishing between surface- and groundwater. The paper aims to demonstrate the added value of detailed analysis of the human water footprint within a country and thorough assessment of the virtual water flows leaving and entering a country for formulating national water policy. Green, blue and grey water footprint estimates and virtual water flows are mainly derived from a previous grid-based (5×5 arc minute) global study for the period 1996–2005. These estimates are placed in the context of monthly natural runoff and waste assimilation capacity per river basin derived from Moroccan data sources. The study finds that: (i) evaporation from storage reservoirs is the second largest form of blue water consumption in Morocco, after irrigated crop production; (ii) Morocco’s water and land resources are mainly used to produce relatively low-value (in US$/m3 and US$/ha) crops such as cereals, olives and almonds; (iii) most of the virtual water export from Morocco relates to the export of products with a relatively low economic water productivity (in US$/m3); (iv) blue water scarcity on a monthly scale is severe in all river basins and pressure on groundwater resources by abstractions and nitrate pollution is considerable in most basins; (v) the estimated potential water savings by partial relocation of crops to basins where they consume less water and by reducing water footprints of crops down to benchmark levels are significant compared to demand reducing and supply increasing measures considered in Morocco’s national water strategy
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere99705
Number of pages14
JournalPLoS ONE
Volume9
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2014

Keywords

  • METIS-304546
  • IR-91802

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