Pollution Vulnerability of the Ghiss Nekkor Alluvial Aquifer in Al-Hoceima (Morocco), Using GIS-Based DRASTIC Model

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2023 Mar 12;20(6):4992. doi: 10.3390/ijerph20064992.


Groundwater resources of the alluvial aquifer Ghiss Nekkor, which covers an area of 100 km2, are the main source of domestic and agricultural freshwater supply in the region of Al Hoceima in Morocco. Due to human activities (overexploitation, increase in agricultural activity), this alluvial aquifer has become very sensitive to chemical pollution. The principal objective of this current study is to develop and implement a calibration method to assess, map, and estimate the vulnerability of the Ghiss Nekkor alluvial aquifer to pollution risk. In this work, the GIS-based DRASTIC model was used to estimate the inherent vulnerability to contamination of the Ghiss Nekkor alluvial aquifer with seven standard hydrogeological parameters. Nitrate (NO3) and electrical conductivity (EC) data were used to validate the DRASTIC map. The results of the vulnerability map analysis show that the vulnerability to contaminants varies from non-existent in the southwestern part of the plain (7.3% of the total area), to very high (14.5%). The vulnerability is moderate in the central and northeastern areas (26.9%), while it is high in the other areas (17.5%). Furthermore, the most sensitive areas are mainly concentrated near the coastal strip and the central plain on both sides of the Nekkor River. In these areas, the NO3 and EC values are above the maximum allowable limit of the World Health Organization. The results suggest that the DRASTIC model can be an effective tool for decision-makers concerned about managing groundwater sustainability.

Keywords: DRASTIC model; Ghiss Nekkor alluvial aquifer; groundwater pollution; nitrate; vulnerability.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Environmental Monitoring / methods
  • Geographic Information Systems*
  • Groundwater* / analysis
  • Humans
  • Morocco
  • Water Pollution / analysis

Grants and funding

This research was funded by the Researchers Supporting Project number RSP2023R351, King Saud University, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.