Morocco unveils $12bn plan to secure water supply
Morocco will spend 115 billion dirhams ($12bn) on water supply between 2020 and 2027 to meet increasing demand, the state news agency has reported.
The programme, announced this week by King Mohammed VI, includes the construction of dams, irrigation, improving the delivery of drinking water to rural areas, the treatment and reuse of wastewater, awareness-raising to reduce demand and the preservation of water resources, reports Reuters.
The expenditure will form part of the draft 2020-2050 National Water Plan, discussed by the Moroccan government in December. The plan covers the spending of $40bn aimed at improving the water supply through the construction of dams, the connection of water basins, the desalination of sea water, the integration of all rural centres into structured drinking water supply systems, the provision of water resources for the development of sustainable agriculture, the preservation of ecosystems and the fight against pollution.
Morocco was ranked as the 22nd-most water stressed country in a report last August by the World Resources Institute, a watchdog of global resources.
Farm income is volatile in semi-arid Morocco where climate change has caused droughts and summer flash floods in some areas.
American aid agency USAID notes that many rural communities rely on a single water source, and that the “lack of a functioning sanitation network and wastewater treatment system causes scarce water resources to become contaminated and unsuitable for multipurpose use”.
Water demand has surged in recent years especially in the north because of an expansion of urban centres and industrial activity.
Morocco’s economic growth should fall to 2.7% in 2019 from 3% in 2018 on the back of a lack of rainfall which caused a 49% drop in cereals output in 2019 compared with a year earlier, according to the central bank.
Webuild and Lane to build railway in Texas
Webuild, formerly known as Salini Impregilo, has announced a US$16bn agreement to build a high-speed railway between Dallas and Houston in Texas. The project has been described as the “final step” before financial closure for the company, which Webuild said was“foreseen in the coming months”.
Passengers using the 236-mile long railway, which was developed by Texas LLC, will travel in Japanese Tokaido Shinkansen bullet trains at 200mph, making one scheduled stop at Brazos Valley near Texas A&M University. This aims to shorten the total journey time between the two terminals from almost four hours to around 90 minutes, Texas LLC claims. The company hopes commercial operations will begin in 2026.
According to Webuild, the new line will aim to target an estimated 100,000 “super commuters” who travel between the two cities by car and plane every week. Webuild said it would cut greenhouse gas emissions by up to 101,000 tonnes per year.
This contract is an update on a preliminary design-build agreement signed with Texas Central LLC in 2019, valued at $14bn. The deal confirms the US as Webuild's single biggest market, comprising some 35% of the group’s total order backlog.
Around 17,000 new direct jobs will be created as a result of the project, as well as 20,000 indirect ones. U.S. suppliers from states aim to provide an estimated US$7.3bn of materials to construct the railway in conjunction with services provided by Italian suppliers.
Webuild and Lane will oversee the civil engineering works of the project. This includes the tracks themselves, the viaducts, and depot buildings.
Three facts about bullet trains
- The fastest commercially operated bullet train is not in Japan, but China. It is capable of reaching speeds of up to 268mph… with passengers onboard.
- Bullet trains are one of the safest ways to travel. Over 10bn passengers have been on board a bullet train and no-one has ever been killed on one.
- The “tunnel boom effect” is powerful enough to blow a freight train over. When a bullet train exits a tunnel at over 200mph, the resulting sonic boom effect is so strong, it could blow a normal freight train off its tracks.
Image: Texas Central LLC.