Plan eau: what to remember from Emmanuel Macron’s announcements in the Hautes-Alpes
The President of the Republic Emmanuel Macron went to Savines-le-Lac, in the Hautes-Alpes, on Thursday to present his Water plan, which aims to reduce the consumption of the precious liquid in France in the coming years while the country has experienced periods of drought, especially last summer. After having slipped a word on the clashes which broke out in Sainte-Soline, the Head of State listed a series of announcements, and he wants to move to 10% reuse of wastewater in France by 2030.
The main information:
– A sobriety plan on the water will be requested by next summer from all sectors
– Emmanuel Macron fears “situations of great stress next summer” in certain municipalities
– Towards 10% reuse of wastewater in France by 2030
– The Head of State in favor of a “progressive pricing” of water “generalized in France”
The objective of achieving 10% wastewater reuse by 2030
Citing “energy, industry, tourism, leisure, agriculture”, the Head of State called for everyone to be responsible during this press conference, the result of consultations initiated after a scorching summer of 2022 and the second worst soil drought suffered by France. He announced the establishment of an “EcoWatt of water” on the model of the instrument set up to reduce electricity consumption during the winter.
France, which only reuses less than 1% of its wastewater and remains far behind on this subject, must reach 10% by 2030, announced the president. “We have decided to launch 1,000 projects in five years to recycle and reuse water” and “ultimately, we want to reuse 300 million cubic meters, or 3 Olympic swimming pools per municipality (…) or 3,500 bottles of water per Frenchman and per year”, declared the president.
Macron in favor of progressive water pricing
Emmanuel Macron has announced that he wants to generalize the “progressive pricing” of water, experienced in certain territories since 2017. Beyond a certain basic volume, the price will increase to deter excessive use. “That does not mean that the price of water will increase, it is also today in the average when we look at the price of water in France”, he specified.
On the thorny subject of artificial water storage for farmers, the president defended the usefulness of these works, of the type of that of Sainte-Soline in Deux-Sèvres where very violent clashes took place on Saturday. These reservoirs or basins pump water from groundwater during the winter so that farmers can water their crops in the summer.
500 million euros more per year for the budgets of the water agencies
But he proposed that the next reservoirs take better account of the scarcity of water linked to climate change, and that they be conditioned on “significant changes in practices”, starting with water savings and a reduction in the use of pesticides by farmers. “It’s not about privatizing water. Or allowing some people to grab it,” he said, repeating that water was “indispensable to our food sovereignty”.
As for the water agencies, which finance a large part of the projects intended to better manage, preserve or reuse water resources, he plans to “increase their annual budget by 500 million euros” per year, currently 2 .2 billion euros.
According to official statistics, “agriculture is the main water-consuming activity with 58% of the total, ahead of drinking water (26%), cooling power plants (12%), and industrial uses (4% )” out of the 4.1 billion cubic meters withdrawn each year without being returned to aquatic environments.
Water withdrawals: farmers exempted from “extra effort”, says Fesneau
Agriculture, which consumes a lot of water, will not have to lower its withdrawals to irrigate crops, said the Minister of Agriculture on Thursday before the majority union FNSEA in Angers, when Emmanuel Macron presented a “plan of sobriety” on the water in the Alps. “I am happy with the arbitration we have, which is an arbitration to say ‘stabilization of the levies’, so we are not asking for an additional effort” from the farmers, declared Marc Fesneau on the last day of the congress of the agricultural federation majority.