Europe 1 with AFP 12:18 p.m., March 27, 2023

Postponed several times, the plan to improve water management in France, will be presented "Thursday", assured this morning the Minister of Ecological Transition, Christophe Béchu. "The plan is complete," he assured. Among the avenues considered, fight against network leaks, but also adapt to climate change.

The government's plan to improve the management of water, a resource threatened by droughts and global warming, will be presented "Thursday", assured Monday the Minister of Ecological Transition Christophe Béchu. "The plan is completed" and "I will have the opportunity to present it on Thursday," said the minister, invited by France Inter and questioned about this water plan, initially scheduled for January 26 then postponed and several times announced as imminent.

"The bottom line is the fact of ending up with global warming that forces us to think of sobriety in water," said Christophe Béchu, citing climate experts who estimate "between minus 10 and minus 40%" of water availability in France in the coming decades. "This plan will deal with quantity - how we do with less" and "quality - we have only 44% of the water bodies in France that are in good ecological condition". Also, "we will talk about governance because today we have a fairly Kafkaesque system on management, and then we will obviously talk about means because there is no plan if there is no finance," summarized the minister.

Fighting leaks

Christophe Béchu alluded to a change in drilling regulations, because "today, you can drill and take thousands of cubic meters with sometimes very little authorization".

Another announced aspect of the plan: the fight "against waste". Currently, about "1 liter of drinking water out of 5 goes into leaks", and even one liter out of two in some territories, "it's just not possible", added the minister. The plan also includes measures to increase the rate of wastewater reuse, below 1% in France compared to 8% in Italy, 14% in Spain and even 85% in Israel.

Very low groundwater levels

On Saturday, on France Info, Christophe Béchu had also stressed that this water plan would include "an agricultural component", at the same time as thousands of people gathered in the department of Deux-Sèvres, to demonstrate against the "basins", vast reservoirs dedicated to the irrigation of crops, contested by ecologists and part of the agricultural world. The demonstration turned into a clash that left dozens injured on the side of the police as demonstrators, with a member of the procession between life and death Sunday.

After a scorching summer 2022 and a winter with little rain, some 80% of underground groundwater in metropolitan France was at below normal levels in February, according to data from the Bureau of Geological and Mining Research, compared to less than 50% in February 2022.