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Organization of Water Management in France

INTRODUCTION

      1. THE ORGANIZATION OF PUBLIC AUTHORITIES
      2. KNOWLEDGE OF WATER RESOURCES AND HYDRO-SYSTEMS
      3. THE INTEGRATED DEVELOPMENT OF WATERCOURSES
      4. MUNICIPAL SERVICES FOR POTABLE WATER SUPPLY
      5. FRENCH WATER ACTS



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Organization of Water Management in France
INTRODUCTION

 

Sound management of inland water resources has become a major concern to ensure quality of life on our planet and sustainable economic development of our societies.

Water, considered for a long time as a mere fluid or a chemical product, must today be thought of as a living medium which must be preserved in terms of quantity, quality and indeed diversity.

Water resources, considered to be abundant, free and therefore taken for granted, especially in humid climate zones, must, today, be treasured as a precious heritage : the uses of which must be planned to allow for optimal satisfaction of all requirements, avoid wastage, prevent irreversible damage, ensure necessary recycling, and must be approached in all cases, in terms of cost as well as economic and financial balance.

These are complicated questions indeed, and throughout the world it has become necessary to find legal, organizational and technical solutions to really control water, in order to :

- control erosion, replenish low water flows, prevent natural catastrophes and hazards such as floods or drought,

- improve the hygiene and health of populations and prevent serious diseases, either in rural communities or in large urban or peri-urban areas where there is an urgent need for the organization of services for drinking water supply and wastewater treatment adapted to requirements, in quantity as in quality,

- ensure agro-food production by land reclamation and appropriate irrigation, and by the development of fishfarming,

- make possible the development of industry, energy production and, in some sectors, recreational sports, tourism and also fluvial transport, primarily, by means of multi-purpose integrated developments,

- prevent permanent pollution -accidental or non-point- and preserve aquatic balances and ecosystems.

These problems can no longer be individually solved in a sectorial way but must be tackled by means of an integrated approach on the geographic scale of each large hydrographic unit.

Henceforth, agreements must be signed, strategies defined, programmes designed, financial, administrative and technical means found, and results controlled, verified and validated... at the level of each tributary (river leasing contract, water development and management schemes), of each large river basin (role of Water Agencies...) and more and more on an international scale covering entire continents (large rivers, inland or international seas).

That would imply mobilizing considerable means :

- on one hand, financial means, to modernize existing plants, create new necessary developments and equipment, and establish the monitoring and analyses networks necessary to observe phenomena and their evolution,

- on the other hand, human means, in order to organize management institutions and structures, to raise awareness of decision-makers at all levels and to train populations, water professionals and technicians (designers, producers, constructors, operators, suppliers...) and users (farmers, fishfarmers, industrialists, fishermen, sportsmen...). Limited available human resources are one of the reasons for the slow progress in this sector, as indeed, in many others.

In France, the setting up of a legislation and of the necessary administrative and technical structures has been progressive.

Solutions that have been found since 1964 and updated in 1992, now provide the opportunity for all the partners involved in water management and utilization -water being recognized as a heritage to be shared by the nation - to act in concert, in the interest of all concerned.

This French experience should not be regarded as a model, but, due to its precedence and results, could inspire authorities of other countries to set up diversified organizations, adapted to meet their local needs.




Introduction
  1. THE ORGANIZATION OF PUBLIC AUTHORITIES
  2. KNOWLEDGE OF WATER RESOURCES AND HYDRO-SYSTEMS
  3. THE INTEGRATED DEVELOPMENT OF WATERCOURSES
  4. MUNICIPAL SERVICES FOR POTABLE WATER SUPPLY
  5. FRENCH WATER ACTS
  6. Yellow pages for Institutions, Associations and Engineering Offices
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