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Open AccessArticle

Assessing Regional Scale Water Balances through Remote Sensing Techniques: A Case Study of Boufakrane River Watershed, Meknes Region, Morocco

1
Department of Geology, Laboratory of Geoengineering and Environment, Research Group “Water Sciences and Environment Engineering”, Faculty of Sciences, Moulay Ismail University, Zitoune, Meknès BP 11201, Morocco
2
Department Earth and Environmental Science, Geography and Tourism Research Group, KU Leuven, Celestijnenlaan 200E, 3001 Heverlee, Belgium
3
Department of Biology, Research Group “Soil and Environment Microbiology Unit”, Faculty of Sciences, Moulay Ismail University, Zitoune, Meknès BP 11201, Morocco
4
Sebou Hydraulic Basin Agency, Fès BP 2101, Morocco
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Water 2020, 12(2), 320; https://doi.org/10.3390/w12020320
Received: 15 December 2019 / Revised: 15 January 2020 / Accepted: 16 January 2020 / Published: 21 January 2020
This paper aims to develop a method to assess regional water balances using remote sensing techniques. The Boufakrane river watershed in Meknes Region (Morocco), which is characterized by both a strong urbanization and a rural land use change, is taken as a study case. Firstly, changes in land cover were mapped by classifying remote sensing images (Thematic Mapper, Enhanced Thematic Mapper Plus and Operational Land Imager) at a medium scale resolution for the years 1990, 2003 and 2018. By means of supervised classification procedures the following land cover categories could be mapped: forests, bare soil, arboriculture, arable land and urban area. For each of these categories a water balance was developed for the different time periods, taking into account changing management and consumption patterns. Finally, the land cover maps were combined with the land cover specific water balances resulting in a total water balance for the selected catchment. The procedure was validated by comparing the assessments with data from water supply stations and the number of licensed ground water extraction pumps. In terms of land use/land cover changes (LULCC), the results showed that urban areas, natural vegetation, arboriculture and cereals increased by 183.74%, 12.55%, 34.99 and 48.77% respectively while forests and bare soils decreased by 78.65% and 16.78% respectively. On the other hand, water consumption has been increased significantly due to the Meknes city growth, the arboriculture expansion and the new crops’ introduction in the arable areas. The increased water consumption by human activities is largely due to reduced water losses through evapotranspiration because of deforestation. Since the major part of the forest in the catchment has disappeared, a further increase of the water consumption by human activities can no longer be offset by deforestation. View Full-Text
Keywords: Boufakrane river watershed; remote sensing; LULCC; water balances Boufakrane river watershed; remote sensing; LULCC; water balances
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El Hafyani, M.; Essahlaoui, A.; Van Rompaey, A.; Mohajane, M.; El Hmaidi, A.; El Ouali, A.; Moudden, F.; Serrhini, N.-E. Assessing Regional Scale Water Balances through Remote Sensing Techniques: A Case Study of Boufakrane River Watershed, Meknes Region, Morocco. Water 2020, 12, 320.

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