SOBRIETY: On Thursday, the Occitanie region unveiled a plan to deal with the climate change of which this territory has been a victim for several years
- Thursday, the Occitanie region unveiled a plan to try to save water.
- The community intends to raise public and tourist awareness of the challenges of water conservation, and encourage businesses to save money.
- The Occitanie region also wants to reduce water consumption in high schools, and support projects that allow the reuse of wastewater.
Occitanie is paying a heavy price for the drought. For months, several departments, in particular the Pyrénées-Orientales, have been short of water. In this territory, which has been experiencing a sharp rise in temperatures for years, the annual water deficit, ie the difference between existing resources and needs, is estimated at 200 million m3. A deficiency which inevitably leads to conflicts of use. Thursday, the Occitanie region unveiled a plan to try to save this now precious commodity. We explain the challenges that the community intends to meet.
Raising awareness among the population (and tourists)
The Occitanie region plans to mobilize 21 million euros to let residents know that water is everyone’s business. This pretty envelope should make it possible to launch information campaigns aimed at the population, municipalities, but also tourism stakeholders, or to bring out innovative citizen solutions. But the region being one of the most popular destinations in France for holidays, tourists will also be made aware, “so that they too are actors in this sobriety”, notes Carole Delga (PS), the president of the region. This will pass, in particular, through kits of the perfect ecologist, made available to hosts for their visitors.
Reduce water consumption in high schools
The local authority intends to reduce water consumption by 20% in the secondary schools for which it is responsible. By simply installing water-saving equipment for the openings or extensions of establishments (aerators for taps, pressure and flow reducers, drip irrigation, low-volume flushing …). It is also on the agenda that establishments emerging from the ground now have an objective of “zero waterproofing” of the exterior floors, to facilitate the infiltration of water, to recharge the water tables. In addition, from now on, the water consumption of each high school will be monitored in real-time. “Eco-delegates” must also be elected, in high school and college classes,
The region offers to support businesses in modernizing their equipment in order to save water. Manufacturers, farmers and leisure structures will be supported, financially, in the implementation of projects to reduce their consumption. Farmers, for example, will be helped if they “commit to a transformation of their production models”, to save energy, especially water, explains Carole Delga. The Occitanie region hopes to sign 10,000 contracts of this type, with farms, by 2027.
Promote the reuse of water
France is lagging far behind in terms of the reuse of wastewater, in particular that of gray water, domestic water that is not very polluted, which comes from sinks or showers. The Occitanie region intends to be the first territory in France in this field, with a target of 10 million m3 reused by 2030. A budget of 70 million euros will be devoted by the community to these new practices.
Several projects are in development in Occitania. In particular in La Grande-Motte (Hérault), where the company BioUV Group, a specialist in ultraviolet water treatment systems, was asked to disinfect the town’s wastewater, to water its golf course. For the seaside resort, this represents 50% savings on water withdrawal or around 250,000 m3 per year. But the standards set at the national level to allow water to be reused in this way are “too drastic,” laments Carole Delga. France should take inspiration from its European neighbours, which allow the reuse of wastewater for the irrigation of tree fields, for example. “France” is very, very behind, compared to Spain, for example, confirms Bertrand Vivancos (PRG), elected regional representative and president of the Climate Emergency Commission. When you know that we all consume 160 litres of water a day and that we would be able to reuse around 80 to 90 litres of it… Greywater is a priority. »
“Renature” natural sites
The community also intends to allow nature to manage on its own, in the face of climatic upheavals. It is notably recorded that waterways will be “renatured” in the region and that wetlands will be restored. “The idea is that each drop that falls can help the natural environment, and continue its cycle until the water is reused”, explains Agnès Langevine (EELV), vice president of the region, and climate delegate. The Occitanie region also wants the forests to be repaired, after major fires, and that certain soils, if possible, be desaled. Especially schoolyards. Finally, the community wishes to work towards a drastic reduction in the use of pollutants by communities, farmers and individuals,