Water and resources
Water management in France
A well-known initiative
Document 1998 from :
Ministère de l'aménagement du territoire et de l'environnement / Agences de l'Eau
For about thirty years water needs in France have grown steadily, particularly those of agriculture and towns. Water, that rare resource, should be economically used respecting the ecology of water surroundings, while complying with the needs of the community.
Joint water management
Under the 16 December 1964 Act water management in its natural framework was established: the catchment area, cornerstone of French water policy. By confirming the role of water as commonproperty of the nation, the 3 January 1992 Act and the Rio conférence decisively strengthened this first stage.
A rare resource to be protected
The outstanding feature of French water policy is based on the desire to drive this double effort, jointly with all the participants involved in their catchment area.
Keystone of the water management tool :
the dialogue between users and elected representatives
The 1992 Water Act strengthens this dialogue with the creation of water planning tools for each large catchment area:
Each master plan for improvement and water management (SDAGE) involves various participants round a joint project. SDAGE are plotting the directions of water policy for the next fifteen years, consistent with all the responsibilities laid down by French laws, European directives and on-going public programmes.
They are laid down in government decisions in the water field and fix high priorities on a scale of each French catchment area.
Improvement and water management plans (SAGE) SDAGE priorities in limited hydrographic units are stated at local level.
The six water agencies are taking part in this new initiative as an initiating force for proposals strengthened by their role as financial participants.
Six water agencies
Uniting all those participating in catchment area water
The whole of France is divided into six large catchment areas in which the six water agencies, public companies of the State, work to reconcile water management with economic development and respect for the Environment.
The water parliament - the catchment area committeeThe different participants are gathered together (local councillors, manufacturing and agricultural users, associations and Government representatives) in a catchment area committee in each catchment area. Expressed in the master plan for improving water resources (SDAGE), it is a place for shared and involved management.
The water agency - a financial incentive tool at the service of the Environment.Action priorities and financing of them, are laid down in five year intervention programmes. They are prepared jointly by the boards of directors of the water agencies, adopted by the catchment area committees and approved by the Prime Minister. The water agencies distribute funds to local authorities, manufacturers and farmers who undertake to safeguard the water resources and quality. Calculated on the basis of pollution discharged and sampled quantities, these funds come from charges collected from water users.
105 thousand million Francs
Between 1997 and 2001
the seventh programmes of water
agencies will set works valued at 105
thousand million Francs in motion.
An international network of catchment area bodies (RIOB)
Catchment areas an overall view
French water agencies abroad
Catchment area institutions have known how to make "lasting water management" progress and make it still more practical over thirty years after they were created. Applied in France, the principle of integrated catchment area management is today accepted in numerous countries :
- in Europe, where an executive directive, based on organizing this principle in all Member States, is beingprepared.
- on other continents, where several countries have already shown their interest in a system founded on the same bases.
Water agencies were led to develop international cooperation, in the face of the interest aroused by the French system.
Technical assignments and appraisals, conferences, studies etc.
Abroad they may therefore show the advantages of an overall catchment area management tool and set up twinning arrangements with interested catchment areas or countries. This business is strengthened in Brussels where since December 1997 they have had a permanent delegation to the European Union.
This organisation set up in 1994 on the initiative of the French government, today consists of 102 bodies in 42 countries.
Its main role is to act as a link between its members for promoting built-in catchment area management of water resources. To do that, the RIOB especially emphasizes associating users and local councillors in the decision making process, as well as applying the "polluter-payer" principle. The six water agencies are founder members of RIOB.
The International Water Office (France) provides the technical department.
Water policy principles in France
Decisions planned around catchment areasDecisions are taken for financing equipment, guaranteeing water supply and quality, inside catchment area bodies uniting all water participants. It is also there, from a catchment standpoint, that financing of incentive assistance for providing sound plant operation is decided.
Water at a price: it bas to be channelled, treated, supplies have to planned, plants have to be built to guarantee its quality...
Water very economical
Water very cultural and socialAbove all water is a natural property, a rare resource to be protected. Managing all its uses imparts an economic dimension to it, based on an integrated approach.
An essentiel resource, water leads to cultural and social practices which, in terms of lasting development, make real ecological and strategic stakes out of it.
Water pays water
Through their water bills consumers bear the main part of expenses linked to investments and plant operation required for water management.
The French water experiment
An 0rganization methods and varied techniques
France has built an original water management method with over 50 000 jobs and 45 thousand million Francs turnover*.
It is special as it consists of reconciling private initiative with public planning methods. The financing circuit complies with two basic principles. «The polluter or the consumer pays" and "water pays water".
This experiment, which refers to numerous international institutions, relies on a competitive industry centred on design, plant and water management.
* All direct jobs in the water recycling industry (except for distribution) with an assessment of resulting jobs added.
Participants in water management
Whichever way you look at it, one ministry in two in France is affected by water.
A decentralized management system was set up under the 1964 Act. The 1992 Act strengthens the dialogue and recognizes new rights and duties in the field of water in local communities.
Mayors are responsable for drinking water and sewerage services. With funds from the water agencies and often departmental assemblies, they control their management modes and investment decisions.
Plant is managed either by the municipal services, or entrusted to private industriel groups.
The State's devolved services, placed under the prefect's authority, implement the water policy in its regulation and technical aspects. These services coordinats their actions, in each department, inside the interdepartmental water mission (MISE) particularly for the water policy.
The area environmental offices (DIREN) make water policy implementation consistent.
Catchment area level
The six catchment area prefects coordinats the actions of the different departments of the State in the field of water. In 1996 they approved the SDAGES, adopted by the catchment area committees.
The water office of the ministry, responsable for the Environment, plans and coordinates State intervention visits in the field of water, in close contact with other relevant ministries for particular sectors (drinking water and health, inland waterways, hydroelectric power etc.). Besides it provides administrative supervision of the six water agencies.
Agences de l’eau
The water agencies are public companies of the State.
They sahre in financing works and, respecting the economic context, contribute to conserving and developing water resources and their natural surroundings, and the struggle against pollution.
Agence de l'Eau Adour-Garonne
90, rue du Férétra
31078 TOULOUSE CEDEX 4
Tél. : 05 61 36 37 38
Fax : 05 61 36 37 28
Agence de l'Eau Artois-Picardie
200, rue Marceline - B.P. 818
59508 DOUAI CEDEX
Tél. : 03 27 99 90 00
Fax : 03 27 99 90 15
Agence de l'Eau Loire-Bretagne
Avenue Buffon - B.P. 6339
45063 ORLEANS CEDEX 2
Tél. : 02 38 51 73 73
Fax : 02 38 51 74 74
Agence de l'Eau Rhin-Meuse
Route de Lessy-Roziérieulles
B. P. 30019
57161 MOULIN-LES-METZ CEDEX
Tél. : 03 87 34 47 00
Fax : 03 87 60 49 85
Agence de l'Eau Rhône-Méditerranée-Corse
2-4, allée de Lodz
69363 LYON CEDEX 07
Tél. : 04 72 71 26 00
Fax : 04 72 71 26 01
Agence de l'Eau Seine-Normandie
51, rue Salvador Allende
92027 NANTERRE CEDEX
Tél. : 01 41 20 16 00
Fax : 01 41 20 16 09
Address of the agencies in Brussels :
Avenue des Arts
Tél. : 32 2 502 51 58
Fax : 32 2 502 56 02
Ministère de l'Aménagement du Territoire et de l'Environnement
Direction de l'Eau
20, avenue de Ségur
75302 PARIS 07 SP
Tél. : 01 42 19 20 21
Fax : 01 42 19 12 22