After the inauguration of the Sebou-Bouregreg water motorway in August 2023, the Autonomous Water and Electricity Distribution Company of Fes (RADEEF) wants to combat pollution by margines in the Fès-Meknès region of Morocco, upstream of the Sebou dam. This blackish liquid, produced when olive oil is extracted, is the source of pollution in watercourses.
In order to preserve available water resources, Morocco is also focusing on upstream pollution control. With this in mind, the Autonomous Water and Electricity Distribution Company of Fes (RADEEF) recently launched a project to combat margine pollution in the Fès-Meknès region, upstream of the Sebou dam, where excess water will be pumped to supply the Bouregreg basin at the Sidi Mohamed Ben Abdallah dam.
The Moroccan region is home to more than 320,000 hectares of olive groves, contributing 38% of the kingdom’s total olive production. Olive oil is extracted in some 4,810 crushing units, representing a capacity of 769,000 tonnes. The liquid waste or margine obtained during this operation is responsible for 88% of industrial water pollution in Fès-Meknès. This blackish substance, highly charged with organic matter, requires a high level of oxygen consumption, leading to eutrophication of the water.
Margines are also said to reduce soil quality, as they contain toxic substances that bind to the soil, and cause drinking water plants and the Fès wastewater treatment plant to shut down for more than three months of the year. This is causing major damage to Fès-Meknès, in a context marked by water stress. In the region, which has a population of almost 4.3 million, Radeef will allocate 548 million Moroccan dirhams (around €50 million) to combating margine pollution.
Construction of margine treatment plants
This funding will be used to build seven margine treatment plants and 28 evaporation basins. These facilities will be built on a 100-hectare site between the prefectures of Fès, Sefrou, Moulay Yacoub and Taounate. The margines will be transported there free of charge by tanker for the first two years, according to Radeef.
However, before the actual work begins on the various sites, a study will be carried out to clean up the olive industry upstream of the Sebou dam. This study will require funding of 10.5 million Moroccan dirhams (nearly 951,000 euros).