Marrakesh’s sustainable tourism through wastewater reuse
Marrakesh or the Moroccan Imperial City is located near the Atlas mountains. For a long time, the city is considered as the gateway to the Sahara desert , which over the years has become a unique touristic destination. At present, Marrakesh attracts tourists for being an interesting destination of golf tourism which is rapidly developing. So far the city has hosted many international golf competitions .
Consumption of water is in continuous demand, especially the development of several golf complexes in Marrakesh induces a strong pressure on the available water resources. Aware of the seriousness of these problems, the local authorities, the RADEEMA (The Marrakesh Autonomous Power and Water Supply), as well as several golf courses launched a project to reuse Marrakesh treated wastewater for the irrigation of golf complexes.
In fact, it is a sustainable solution for golf courses, which require 27 million m³ of water per year. However, Marrakesh uses about 60 million m³ of drinking water per year.
During this project of treatment and reuse of wastewater, a significant amount of water was saved and used efficiently.
Other strong point of the project:
The wastewater project is generating electricity
Since December 2011, the water treatment facility officially started to operate. Every day, 110.000m³ of wastewater is collected, 90.000m³ of which can be reused. Within the treatment process, methane is used to produce electricity. The facility generates a daily amount of 30 MWh of electricity, which fulfills 50% of the total electricity need of the wastewater treatment plant. After treatment, the water is diffused through five pumping stations and pipelines of 80 km that connect all golf courses.
Costs and benefits
The project does not only guarantee appropriate water treatment, but also generates electricity for the wastewater plant. Another strong point of the Marrakesh approach is the stakeholder coalition for the project. All the three principal partners in the wastewater project (RADEEMA, government and golf courses) have made an important financial contribution. The total cost of the project is 1.2 billion dirham (110 million euros), 15 million euros of which has been contributed by Moroccan government , 30 million euros – by RADEEMA and 65 million euros – by promoters including golf courses.
The treatment and reuse of Marrakesh wastewater is an important milestone in sustainable development because an alternative and renewable resource is mobilized. This project not only permits to preserve the environment and conventional water resources but also brings significant benefits for the region on economical, environmental and social grounds. Moreover, Marrakesh can further develop itself as an attractive touristic, including golf destination, without compromising but saving water resources for the future generation.