Restinga-Smir: human pressure and induced changes
In the last decade the Mediterranean coast of Morocco has developed thanks to population increase (rural exode) and tourism development (villages, marinas and recreational constructions). Such human pressure, particularly the constructions on the shore, have been causing gradual modification of the littoral.
East of the main road, in the beach area, is a sprawling tourist development - some of the construction lying on the dunes themselves. Local population levels are seasonal, but at least 10,000 individuals are present all year round. Population rises by a factor of 10 (estimated) during the tourist season in July and August.
To the south, the village is expanding towards the lagoon (being hemmed in by nearby mountains, the only direction for urban expansion is towards the protected marsh areas, using methods of land reclamation). Agricultural land lies to the south and west, and there is also a fishing port to the south.
The increased water need has induced the construction of a dam about 10 km upstream the Smir Wadi, that has caused the drying up of part of the lagoon and linked wet zones.
There have been large discharges of sewage both into the lagoon and into the sea, but there has been some attempt of using reedbed filtering systems for basic sewage treatment in the marsh area.
Due to the changes in freshwater flow, the salinity of the lagoon and surrounding areas has increased to the extent that in some areas the salinity level is not unlike that of the sea. Associated changes have also been observed in both the vegetation and other geo-chemical components of the system, including the size of beach particles and the slope of the beach.