Tue, 06 Jun 2023

French President Emmanuel Macron will be in the French Alps on Thursday to present a plan to improve water management, a resource threatened by droughts and global warming.

"With climate change, the water cycle in France has undergone significant changes in recent decades", underlined the Elysee, ahead of the visit to Savines-le-Lac.

Multiple droughts, the reduction in the level of groundwater and changes to the rhythms of rains in recent years have all affected access to water.

"These changes affect many sectors such as agriculture, energy, leisure or industry" and require "a move towards a more sober, more resilient and better concerted system," underlined the presidency.

Macron will be accompanied by the Ministers of Ecological Transition Christophe Bechu and Agriculture Marc Fesneau.

Farmers in drought-stricken southwest France invoke Saint-Gauderique for rainWastewater recycling

"Almost all French departments were affected by restrictions, and 700 municipalities experienced difficulties in drinking water supply" in 2022, Bechu said earlier this year.

The average consumption of 150 litres of water per person per day is not sustainable, he added.

Macron will propose a series of measures aimed at redefining the country's water management policy, in conjunction with elected officials and local authorities.

France rolls out five-year 'anti-drought' plan to save water

The plan includes measures to increase the rate of reuse of wastewater. In France, less than two percent of wastewater from homes, toilets or washing machines is repurposed for agriculture. This compares to eight percent in Italy, 14 percent in Spain and 85 percent in Israel.

The President of the Paca-Sud region, Renaud Muselier, announced that prefects were already drawing up regulations to roll out the "Blue Gold" plan, designed to develop the reuse of wastewater for agriculture and industry.

Fight over water storage

Macron's visit to the Alps comes against a backdrop of tension amid ongoing strikes and rallies over his government's contested pension reform, as well as violent protests against plans to build water reservoirs in hundreds of locations around France, notably in the western town of Sainte-Soline.

The concept involves collecting and storing rainwater that naturally infiltrates the subsoil in winter, providing a stable supply of water for farmers to use in spring and summer.

France sees growing divide over irrigation reservoirs

Supporters of the basins say they will help farmers to irrigate their crops in times of drought.

But critics say they are water grabs. The citizens' group Bassins, no merci (Reservoirs no thank you) sees a clear link between rivers drying up and the construction of water reservoirs.

The collective was present at the weekend in Sainte-Soline, where police were accused of using heavy handed tactics.

Two demonstrators remain in a coma with head injuries and their families have filed legal complaints.

Originally published on RFI

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