Evaluation of groundwater suitability for irrigation in the Skhirat region, Northwest of Morocco

  • Abdelmjid Zouahri
  • Houria Dakak
  • Ahmed Douaik
  • Mhamed El Khadir
  • Rachid Moussadek


Morocco has arid and semiarid climates. Irrigation is an imperative for agriculture. Skhirat region is known for the production of vegetables. Intensive peri-urban agriculture is associated with inconsiderate pumping of groundwater, and water becomes less abundant and of poor quality resulting in degradation of soil and water quality. Therefore, the objective of this research work was the assessment of the quality of irrigation water. The study site is located in a coastal area and dedicated to intensive land use for growing vegetables in a peri-urban agricultural zone. Monitoring of physicochemical parameters of water was carried out in 77 wells. Parameters like pH, electrical conductivity, and piezometric level were measured in situ while others like total dissolved solids and ionic balance were measured in laboratory whereas other parameters were calculated from those measured. Results showed that Na and Ca are predominant cations while Cl and SO4 are predominant anions. Piper diagram reveals two facies: sodic and calcic chlorinated. Regarding the permeability index, all wells are suitable for irrigation. The US Salinity Laboratory (USSL) diagram reveals that irrigation water has high salinization risk and low to medium alkalinization risk. The groundwater in the region is classified as very hard category; however, it does not present any risk of sodicity. These waters have a high risk of toxicity to chloride ions. In summary, although the groundwater in the Skhirat region presents a high risk of salinization, it is of good quality suitable for irrigation. Agricultural practices should be well managed to secure safe use of the water resource for a sustainable development of the agriculture in the region.


Agriculture Groundwater Morocco Salinity hazard Sodium hazard 


  1. Abdalla, F. A., & Scheytt, T. (2012). Hydrochemistry of surface water and groundwater from a fractured carbonate aquifer in the Helwan area, Egypt. Journal of Earth System Science, 121, 109–124.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Ako, A. A., Shimada, J., Hosono, T., Ichiyanagi, K., Nkeng, G. E., Fantong, W. Y., Eyong, G. E. T., & Roger, N. N. (2011). Evaluation of groundwater quality and its suitability for drinking, domestic, and agricultural uses in the Banana Plain (Mbanga, Njombe, Penja) of the Cameroon Volcanic Line. Environmental Geochemistry and Health, 33, 559–575.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Al-Ahmadi, M. E. (2013). Hydrochemical characterization of groundwater in wadi Sayyah, Western Saudi Arabia. Applied Water Science, 3, 721–732.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Alexakis, D., & Tsakiris, G. (2010). Drought impacts on karstic spring annual water potential. Application on Almyros (Heraklion Crete) brackish spring. Desalination and Water Treatment, 16, 1–9.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Al-Tabbal, J. A., & Al-Zboon, K. K. (2012). Suitability assessment of groundwater for irrigation and drinking purpose in the Northern Region of Jordan. Journal of Environmental Science and Technology, 5, 274–290.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Appelo, C. A. J., & Postma, D. (2005). Geochemistry, groundwater and pollution (2nd ed.). Balkema: Rotterdam, the Netherlands.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Arveti, N., Sarma, M. R. S., Aitkenhead-Peterson, J. A., & Sunil, K. (2011). Fluoride incidence in groundwater: a case study from Talupula, Andhra Pradesh. India Environmental Monitoring Assess, 172, 427–443.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Ayenew, T., Demlie, M., & Wohnlich, S. (2008). Hydrogeological framework and occurrence of groundwater in the Ethiopian aquifers. Journal African Earth Sciences, 52, 97–113.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Ayers, R. S., & Westcot, D. W. (1989). Water quality for agriculture. Rome: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. 174 pp.Google Scholar
  10. Bahar, M. M., & Reza, M. S. (2009). Hydrochemical characteristics and quality assessment of shallow groundwater in a coastal area of Southwest Bangladesh. Environmental Earth Science, 61, 1065–1073.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Bigak, J. W., & Nielsen, D. R. (1972). Irrigation under diverse conditions. In S. A. Taylor & G. L. Ashcroft (Eds.), Physical edaphology: the physics of irrigated and non-irrigated soils. San Francisco: WH Freeman.Google Scholar
  12. Celik, M., & Yildirim, T. (2006). Hydrochemical evaluation of groundwater quality in the Cavuscayi Basin, Sungurlu-Corum, Turkey. Environmental Geology, 50, 323–330.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Chow, M. F., Yusop, Z., & Shirazi, S. M. (2013). Storm runoff quality and pollutant loading from commercial, residential, and industrial catchments in the tropic. Environmental Monitoring and Assessment, 185, 8321–8331.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Craft, C., Clough, J., Ehman, J., Joye, S., Park, R., Pennings, S., Guo, H., & Machmuller, M. (2009). Forecasting the effects of accelerated sea-level rise on tidal marsh ecosystem services. Frontiers in Ecology, 7, 73–78.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Domenico, P. A., & Schwartz, F. W. (1990). Physical and chemical hydrogeology (p. 824). New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  16. Edet, A. E. (1993). Groundwater quality assessment in parts of eastern Niger Delta, Nigeria. Environmental Geology, 22, 41–46.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Edmunds, W. M., Shand, P., Hart, P., & Ward, R. S. (2003). The natural (baseline) quality of groundwater: a UK pilot study. Science of the Total Environment, 310, 25–35.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Gallardo, A. H., & Tase, N. (2005). Hydrology and geochemical characterization of groundwater in a typical small-scale agricultural area of Japan. Journal Asian Earth Science, 29, 18–28.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Ghanem, H. (1981). Contribution à la connaissance des sols du Maroc. Cahiers de la Recherche Agronomique, Rabat: Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique.Google Scholar
  20. Guler, C., & Thyne, G. D. (2004). Hydrologic and geologic factors controlling surface and groundwater chemistry in Indian Wells–Owens Valley area, southeastern California, USA. Journal Hydrology, 285, 177–198.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Gupta, S. K., & Gupta, I. C. (1987). Management of saline soils and water (p. 399). New Delhi: Oxford and IBM Publ. Co.Google Scholar
  22. Hamzaoui-Azaza, F., Ketata, M., Bouhlila, R., Gueddari, M., & Riberio, L. (2011). Hydrogeochemical characteristics and assessment of drinking water quality in Zeuss–Koutine aquifer, southeastern Tunisia. Environmental Monitoring and Assessment, 174, 283–298.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Jain, M. K., Dadhich, L. K., & Kalpana, S. (2011). Water quality assessment of Kishanpura Dam, Baran, Rajasthan, India. Nature, Environment and Pollution Technology, 10, 405–408.Google Scholar
  24. Khodapanah, L., Sulaiman, W. N. A., & Khodapanah, N. (2009). Groundwater quality assessment for different purposes in Eshtehard District, Tehran, Iran. European Journal of Scientific Research, 36, 543–553.Google Scholar
  25. Mishra, P. C., Behera, P. C., & Patel, R. K. (2005). Contamination of water due to major industries and open refuse dumping in the steel city of Orissa: a case study. ASCE. Journal Environmental Science and Engineering, 47, 141–154.Google Scholar
  26. Page, A. L. (1982). Methods of soil analysis. Part 2: chemical and microbiological properties. Madison, WI, USA: American Society of Agronomy, Soil Science Society of America.Google Scholar
  27. Rao, N. S., Rao, P. S., Reddy, G. V., Nagamani, M., Vidyasagar, G., & Satyanarayana, N. L. V. V. (2013). Chemical characteristics of groundwater and assessment of groundwater quality in Varaha River Basin, Visakhapatnam District, Andhra Pradesh, India. Environmental Monitoring and Assessment, 184, 5189–5214.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Reddy, K. S. (2013). Assessment of groundwater quality for irrigation of Bhaskar Rao Kunta watershed, Nalgonda District, India. International Journal of Water Resources and Environmental Engineering, 5, 418–425.Google Scholar
  29. Robins, N. S. (2001). Groundwater quality in Scotland: major ion chemistry of the key groundwater bodies. Science of the Total Environment, 294, 41–56.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Rodier, J. (1984). L’analyse de l’eau, eaux naturelles, eaux résiduaires, eau de mer (7th ed.). Paris: Dunod.Google Scholar
  31. Saleh A, Al-Ruwaih F, and Shehata M. (1999). Hydrogeochemical processes operating within the main aquifers of Kuwait. Journal Arid Environment, 42, 195–209.Google Scholar
  32. SAS (2000). SAS 9.1.3. Help and Documentation. SAS Institute: Cary, NC, USA.Google Scholar
  33. Sawyer, C. N., McCarty, P. L., & Parkin, G. F. (2003). Chemistry for environmental engineering and science (5th ed.). Boston: McGraw Hill Companies, Inc.Google Scholar
  34. Sherif, M. M., & Singh, V. P. (1999). Effect of climate change on sea water intrusion in coastal aquifers. Hydrological Processes, 13, 1277–1287.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Shirazi, S. M., Ismail, Z., Akib, S., Sholichin, M., & Islam, M. A. (2011). Climatic parameters and irrigation requirement of crops. International Journal of the Physical Sciences, 6, 15–26.Google Scholar
  36. Shirazi, S. M., Imran, H. M., & Akib, S. (2012). GIS-based DRASTIC method for groundwater vulnerability assessment: a review. Journal of Risk Research, 15, 991–1011.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Shirazi, S. M., Imran, M. H., Akib, S., Yusop, Z., & Harun, Z. B. (2013). Groundwater vulnerability assessment in Melaka state of Malaysia using DRASTIC and GIS techniques. Environmental Earth Sciences, 70, 2293–2304.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Srinivasamoorthy, K., Gopinath, M., Chidambaram, S., Vasanthavigar, M., & Sarma, V. S. (2014). Hydrochemical characterization and quality appraisal of groundwater from Pungar sub basin, Tamilnadu, India. Journal of King Saud University Science, 26, 37–52.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Stuyfzand, P. J. (1989). Nonpoint source of trace element in potable groundwater in Netherland. In: Proceedings of the 18th TWSA Water Working, Testing and Research Institute. KIWA, Nieuwegein.Google Scholar
  40. Todd, D. K. (1980). Groundwater hydrology (p. 535). New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  41. Todd, D. K., & Mays, L. W. (2005). Groundwater hydrology (3rd ed.). New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  42. Vörösmarty, C. J., Green, P., Salisbury, J., & Lammers, R. B. (2000). Global water resources: vulnerability from climate change and population growth. Science, 289, 284–288.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Wanda, E. M. M., Gulula, L. C., & Phiri, A. (2013). Hydrochemical assessment of groundwater used for irrigation in Rumphi and Karonga districts, Northern Malawi. Physics and Chemistry of the Earth, 66, 51–59.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Wang, S. W. (2013). Groundwater quality and its suitability for drinking and agricultural use in the Yanqi Basin of Xinjiang Province, Northwest China. Environmental Monitoring and Assessment, 185, 7469–7484.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Westcott, D. W., & Ayers, R. C. (1984). Water quality criteria in irrigation with reclaim municipal wastewater. California: State water resources control board, Sacramento.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Abdelmjid Zouahri
    • 1
  • Houria Dakak
    • 1
  • Ahmed Douaik
    • 1
  • Mhamed El Khadir
    • 1
  • Rachid Moussadek
    • 1
  1. 1.Research Unit on Environment and Conservation of Natural Resources, Regional Center of RabatNational Institute of Agricultural Research (INRA)RabatMorocco

Personalised recommendations