The procession of activists, dressed in blue, wanted to be "peaceful, joyful and family" and demonstrated under a few drops of rain.

Gathered under the slogan "Water, not fleas", the demonstrators are contesting the project to extend the plant, announced last summer by the Franco-Italian company and carried out in partnership with the American GlobalFoundries, synonymous according to them with an excess of water consumption.

The €5.7 billion project is to be supported under the France 2030 plan, and by the European Union under the Chips Act, a plan to double semiconductor production in the EU by 2026.

"We are worried about water resources and democracy," said Julien, one of the protest organizers, who preferred to remain anonymous. The thousand jobs promised with the extension of the site "can not justify everything," says the activist, who questions the choices in terms of water sharing. In the crowd, another activist, Émilie, "prefers to be limited to screen time than drinking water".

"We say that there is no problem of water withdrawal, but what about the future?" asks Sébastien Triqueneaux, a researcher at a CNRS institute in Grenoble and a member of the Scientists in Rebellion.

Demonstration in Crolles, Isère, on April 1, 2023, against water "hoarding" in front of STMicroelectronics ©' semiconductor production site JEAN-PHILIPPE KSIAZEK / AFP

The STMicroelectronics site, and the municipality of Crolles on which it is located, are supplied by the drinking water network of the Grenoble metropolis, but belong to the neighboring territory of the community of communes of Grésivaudan.

Until then, the metropolis of Grenoble, which directly manages its drinking water network, supplied 23,000 m3 per day, or 8.4 million m3/year. But under a purchase agreement signed in October 2021, this flow should rise to 29,000 m3 / day by the end of 2023, "to take into account the evolution of needs for the coming years, especially those of the industries of the territory," says a deliberation of the community of communes of Grésivaudan.

In 2021, according to STMicroelectronics' environmental declaration, 4.23 million m3 had been removed by the plant, almost all of this volume being then discharged into nearby waterways. In 2019, this volume withdrawn was 3.46 million m3.

© 2023 AFP