Anthropisation des processus hydrologiques autour de l’oued Merguellil, Tunisie centrale : caractérisation des formes d’évolution et quantification des flux

Abstract : The Merguellil basin in central Tunisia provides an illustrative example of hydrological processes profoundly modified by human action. The Wadi Merguellil, the main river of the basin, has experienced an extremely marked socio-hydrological evolution. Its current state is the legacy of a long history of interactions between man and his environment. Truly, it is currently intermittent over most of its course, but the statements of farmers and archival records reveal that this was not the case at the beginning of the last century. The use of ancient information from archival documents has shown that the Wadi Merguellil was supported mainly by the overflow of the confined aquifer of Bouhefna. During the years 1974-1975 and in order to transfer groundwater resources from the Merguellil basin to the coastal regions, a management plan was put in place. The aim of this plan was to reduce the level of the Bouhefna aquifer so as to reduce '' losses '' by evaporation in the Wadi Merguellil and minimize the groundwater flow towards the nearby Haffouz aquifer. As expected, this strategy led to a reversal of the hydraulic gradient inferring the drying up of the overflow springs, the emptying of the alluvial aquifer and the disappearance of the Wadi Merguellil baseflow during the period 1976-1978. The hydrodynamic model established in this thesis suggests that the averaged groundwater flow that was feeding the Wadi before the hydraulic gradient reversal is around 9 hm3. Currently, it is rather the floods of the Wadi that feed the alluvial aquifer and the shallow aquifers. The average flow infiltrated during the propagation of flood events is estimated at 17 hm3 in the section of the wadi between the Haffouz station and El Haouareb dam for the year 2013-2014.Though, the exploitation management plan of the Bouhefna aquifer was based exclusively on hydrodynamic considerations without taking into account the evolution of hydro-agricultural practices. Indeed, the disappearance of the baseflow of the Wadi Merguellil has forced farmers to abandon traditional irrigation canals and opt for the installation of motor pumps and the establishment of deep wells. This feedback on the change in the Wadi flow regime has further disrupted the hydrological balance. This resulted in an excessive exploitation of the groundwater with an observed current decrease of the piezometry higher than 1m/year and a reversal of the hydraulic gradient between the Bouhefna aquifer and the Haffouz aquifer. The hydrodynamic model suggests that the average flow exchanged by vertical drainage has decreased from 8 hm3 in 1970 to 2 hm3 in 2015. In the opposite direction, the average flow transiting from the Haffouz aquifer to the Bouhefna aquifer has increased from 1 hm3 in 1970 to 6 hm3 in 2015, imposing a risk of salinity in the long term.The transfer of water from Bouhefna to the coastal regions, even though it is widely disputed by the local populations, has never been put forward as a factor explaining the hydrological evolution experienced locally. The work of this thesis allows to show how much this transfer of water has influenced the hydrological regime of the wadi. However, by not omitting their own responsibilities in these dynamics, farmers are lucid. Indeed, the hydrodynamic model suggests that the cumulative part of groundwater volumes mobilized by the latter after the disappearance of the Wadi baseflow is comparable to that for drinking water. The results of this thesis are in line with research in socio-hydrology that calls for integrating social aspects into management plans to ensure sustainable development of water resources.
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Hamza Jerbi. Anthropisation des processus hydrologiques autour de l’oued Merguellil, Tunisie centrale : caractérisation des formes d’évolution et quantification des flux. Hydrologie. Université Montpellier; Université de Carthage (Tunisie), 2018. Français. ⟨NNT : 2018MONTG079⟩. ⟨tel-02174869⟩

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