Assessment of physicochemical and bacteriological groundwater quality in irrigated Triffa Plain, North-East of Morocco


The physicochemical and bacteriological quality of groundwater was assessed to show the impact of the agriculture and human activities in the Triffa Plain located in North-East of Morocco. The current levels of contamination of the groundwater were estimated by analysing electrical conductivity, nitrate, nitrite, ammonia, orthophosphate, and indicators of faecal pollution content.

Water samples from 55 locations were collected during two period of time, the wet and the dry season of the year 2016. Result obtained indicated that most samples are highly contaminated. The electrical conductivity varied from 800 to 9 100 μS∙cm−1. Nitrate levels ranged from 25 to 216 mg·dm−3, with 78% of samples exceeding the critical level value set at 50 mg·dm−3. Nitrate concentrations are slightly higher during the wet period in 73% of studied cases. Nitrite rarely exceeded the normal rate fixed by World Health Organization and reached 0.90 mg·dm−3. Ammonia and orthophosphate contents do not exceed these norms.

The study revealed a wide contamination of groundwater by microbial agents such as, total coliforms, faecal coliforms and faecal streptococci, with content ranged from 0 to 14 000, 0 to 5 000 and 0 to 5 000 CFU·(100 cm3)−1 respectively, confirming the impact of septic tanks, wastewater discharge into rivers without treatment, and the use of animal waste on the ground water vulnerability.

Samplings and measurements were carried out according to the international standard ISO 13395, ISO 11732 and ISO 15681-2 for chemical compounds and ISO 9308-1 and ISO 7899-2 for microbiological numerations.

If the inline PDF is not rendering correctly, you can download the PDF file here.

  • Atherholt T., Feerst E., Hovendon B., Kwak J., Rosen J.D. 2003. Evaluation of indicators of faecal contamination in groundwater. Journal American Water Works Association. Vol. 95. No. 10 p. 119–131.

  • Avery A.A. 2001. Cause of methemoglobinemia: Illness versus nitrate exposure. Environmental Health Perspectives. Vol. 109. No. 1 p. 12–14.

  • Barnes B., Gordon D.M. 2004. Coliform dynamics and the implications for source tracking. Environmental Microbiology. Vol. 6 p. 501–509.

  • Bengoumi M., Traoure A., Bouchriti N., Bengoumi D., El Hraiki A. 2004. Qualité de l’eau en aviculture [Poultry water quality]. Revue trimestrielle d’information scientifique et technique. Vol. 3. No. 1 p. 5–29.

  • Benkaddour R. 1997. Contribution à l’étude de la salinité et de la pollution par les nitrates des eaux souterraines de la plaine des Triffa “Basse Moulouya”[Study of salinity and nitrates pollution on the groundwater of the Triffa plain “Low Moulouya”]. Oujda. Université Mohammed Premier pp. 100.

  • Boughriba M., Jilali A. 2018. Climate change and modeling of an unconfined aquifer: the Triffa plain, Morocco. Environment Development and Sustainability. Vol. 20. No. 5 p. 2009–2026.

  • Bumb B.L., Baanante C.A. 1996. World trends in fertilizer use and projections to 2020. Washington, DC. International Food Policy Research Institute. Brief 38 pp. 4.

  • Bzioui M. 2004. Rapport national 2004 sur les ressources en eau au Maroc [National report 2004 on Water Resources in Morocco]. UN Water-Africa pp. 94.

  • Conboy M.J., Goss M.J. 2001. Identification of an assemblage of indicator organisms to assess timing and source of bacterial contamination in groundwater. Water, Air, and Soil Pollution. Vol. 129 p. 101–118.

  • Craun G.F., Nwachuku N., Calderon R.L., Craun M.F. 2002. Outbreaks in drinking-water systems, 1991–1998. Journal of Environmental Health. Vol. 65 p. 16–25.

  • El Haissoufi H., Berrada S., Merzouki M., Aabouch M., Bennani L., Benlemlih M., Idir M., Zanibou A., Bennis Y., El Ouali Lalami A. 2011. Pollution des eaux de puits de certains quartiers de la ville de Fès, Maroc [Pollution of well water in some districts of Fes city, Morocco]. Revue de Microbiologie Industrielle Sanitaire et Environnementale. Vol. 5. No. 1 p. 37–68.

  • El Hammoumi N., Sinan N., Lakhlif B., Lakhdar M. 2013. Use of multivariate statistical and geographicinformation system (GIS)-based approach to evaluateground water quality in the irrigated plain of Tadla (Morocco). International Journal of Water Resources and Environmental Engineering. Vol. 5 No. 2 p. 77–93.

  • El Mandour A. 1998. Contribution hydrogéologique de la plaine des Triffa. Salinisation et modélisation [Hydrogeologic contribution of Triffa plaine. Salinisation and modelisation]. PhD Thesis. Oujda. University Mohamed Premier pp. 206.

  • Erskine A.D. 2000. Transport of ammonium in aquifers: retardation and degradation. Quarterly Journal of Engineering Geology and Hydrogeology. Vol. 33 p. 161–170.

  • Fekkoul A., Zarhloule Y., Boughriba M., Barkaoui A.E., Jilali A., Bouri S. 2013. Impact of anthropogenic activities on the groundwater resources of the unconfined aquifer of Triffa plain (eastern Morocco). Arabian Journal of Geosciences. Vol. 6 p. 4917–4924.

  • Fetouani S., Sbaa M., Vanclooster M., Bendra B. 2008. Assessing ground water quality in the irrigated plain of Triffa (north-east Morocco). Agricultural Water Management. Vol. 95 p. 133–142.

  • Freishtat R.J., Chamberlain J.M., Johns C.M.S., Teach S.J., Ronzio C., Murphy-Smith M.M., Gor N. 2005. A crosssectional ED survey of infantile subclinical methemoglobinemia. American Journal of Emergency Medicine. Vol. 23. No. 4 p. 574–576.

  • Grady C.P.L, Daigger G.T, Love N.G., Filipe C.D.M. 2011. Biological wastewater treatment. 3rd ed. London. IWA Publishing. ISBN 0849396794 pp. 1022.

  • Halim MA., Majumder R.K., Nessa S.A., Hiroshiro Y., Uddin MJ., Shimada J., Jinno K. 2009. Hydrogeochemistry and arsenic contamination of groundwater in the Ganges Delta Plain, Bangladesh. Journal of Hazardous Materials. Vol. 164 p. 1335–1345.

  • Hassoune El M., Bouzidi A., Koulali Y., Hadarbach D. 2006. Effets des rejets liquides domestiques et industriels sur la qualité des eaux souterraines au nord de la ville de Settat (Maroc) [Effects of domestic and industrial liquid discharges on the quality of groundwaternorth of the city of Settat (Morocco)]. Bulletin de l’institut Scientifique, Rabat. Sect. Sciences de la Vie. Vol. 28 p. 61–71.

  • Hassoune El M., El Kettani S., Koulali Y., Bouzidi A. 2010. Contamination bactériologique des eaux souterraines par les eaux usées de la ville de Settat [Bacteriological contamination of groundwater by Settat city wastewater]. Revue de Microbiologie Industrielle Sanitaire Et Environnementale. Vol. 4. No. 1 p. 1–21.

  • ISO 7899-2: 2000. Water quality – Detection and enumeration of intestinal enterococci – Part 2: Membrane filtration method.

  • ISO 9308-1: 2000. Water quality – Detection and enumeration of Escherichia coli and coliform bacteria – Part 1: Membrane filtration method.

  • ISO 11732: 2005. Water Quality – Determination of ammonium nitrogen – Flow analysis method (CFA and FIA) and spectrometric detection.

  • ISO 13395: 1996. Water Quality – Determination of nitrite nitrogen and nitrate nitrogen and the sum of both by flow analysis (CFA and FIA) and spectrometric detection.

  • ISO 15681-2:2003. Water quality – Determination of orthophosphate and total phosphorus contents by flow analysis (FIA and CFA) – Part 2: Method by continuous flow analysis (CFA).

  • Kelmendi M., Kadriu S., Sadiku M., Aliu M., Sadriu E., Hyseni S.M. 2018. Assessment of drinking water quality of Kopiliq village in Skenderaj, Kosovo. Journal of Water and Land Development. No. 39 p. 61–65. DOI 10.2478/jwld-2018-0059.

  • Laftouhi N.E., Vanclooster M., Jalal M., Witam O., Aboufirassi M., Bahir M., Persoons E. 2003. Groundwater nitrate pollution in the Essaouira Basin (Morocco). Comptes Rendus Geoscience. Vol. 335. Iss. 3 p. 307–317.

  • Lahbabi A., Anouar K. 2010. Evaluation environnementale du projet d’adduction régionale d’alimentationen eau potable [Environmental assessment of regional drinking Water Supply Project]. ONEP report. Rabat. Kingdom of Morocco pp. 64.

  • Leclerc H., Schwartzbrod L., Dei-Cas E. 2002. Agents microbiens associés aux maladies hydriques [Microbials agents associated with waterborne diseases]. Critical Reviews in Microbiology. Vol. 28. No. 4 p. 371–409.

  • Mahler B.J., Personne J.C., Lods G F., Drogue C. 2000. Transport of free and particulate associated bacteria in karst. Journal of Hydrology. Vol. 238 p. 179–193.

  • MATEE 2001. Rapport sur l’état de l’environnement du Maroc [Report on the state of the environment in Morocco]. Rabat 2001. Ministère de l’Aménagement du Territoire, de l’Eau et de l’Environnement. Département de l’Environnement Observation National de l’Environnement du Maroc pp. 296.

  • Melloul A., Amahmid O., Hassani L., Bouhoum K. 2002. Health effect of human wastes used in agriculture in El Azzouzia (the wastewater spreading area of Marrakech city, Morocco). International Journal of Environmental Health Research. Vol. 12. No. 1 p. 17–23.

  • MEMEE 2014. Etat de la qualité des ressources en eau au Maroc 2009–2012 [State of the quality of water resources in Morocco 2009–2012]. Rabat. Ministère délégué auprès du Ministère de l’énergie des mines, de l’eau et de l’environnement charge de l’eau pp. 42.

  • ORMVAM 2016. Recensement General des Cultures, Campagne 2015/2016 [General Census of Cultures, Campaign 2015/2016]. Berkane. Office Régional de la Mise en Valeur Agricole de la Moulouya pp. 44.

  • PCD 2012–2016. Plan communal de développement, Commune rurale de Madagh et Commune rurale de Laâtamna [CPD: Communal plan for development, rural commune of Madagh, and rural commune of Laâtamna]. Province Berkane. 2012/2016 pp. 60.

  • Roy R.N., Finck A., Blair G.J., Tandon H.L.S. 2006. Plant nutrition for food security. A guide for integrated nutrient management. FAO Fertilizer and Plant Nutrition Bulletin. No. 16. Rome. Food and Agriculture Organisation pp. 348.

  • Skrzypiec K., Gajewska M.H. 2017. The use of constructed wetlands for the treatment of industrial wastewater. Journal of Water and Land Development. No. 34 p. 233–240. DOI 10.1515/jwld-2017-0058.

  • Venkateswari R., Ganesh R., Deenadayalan M., Mahender E., Ramachandran B., Janakiraman L. 2007. Transient methemoglobinemia in an infant. The Indian Journal of Pediatrics. Vol. 74. No. 11 p. 1037–1038.

  • Wanzala M.N. 2007. Implementation of Abuja declaration on fertilizer for an African Green Revolution. NEPAD Second Semi-Annual Progress Report. June 2006–June 2007.

  • WEF 2005. Biological nutrient removal (BNR) operation in wastewater treatment plants: WEF Manual of Practice. No. 30. ASCE Manual and Reports on Engineering Practice Book 2. Alexandria, Virginia. Water Environment Federation. ISBN 0071464158 pp. 597.

  • Weyer P.J., Cerhan J.R., Kross B.C., Hallberg G.R., Kantamneni J., Breuer G., Jones M.P., Zheng W., Lynch C.F. 2001. Municipal drinking water nitrate level and cancer risk in older women: The Lowa Women’s Health Study. Epidemiology. Vol. 12. No. 3 p. 327–338.

  • Yahya H.S.A., Jilali A., Battioui M., Mostareh M-M-M., Belbachir C., Chafi A. 2015. Seasonal variation of physicochemical and bacteriological characteristics of groundwater using a GIS: Triffa plain (northeast Morocco). Journal of Materials and Environmental Sciences. Vol. 6. No. 9 p. 2400–2408.


Journal + Issues