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Water shortage in southwest France: Erik Orsenna and Martin Malvy exchange views

On 15 March, during the cycle of conferences “Les Rencontres de l’Occitanie” organised by the newspaper Dépêche du Midi, Erik Orsenna, Chairman of IFGR and Martin Malvy, President of the Adour-Garonne Basin Committee, former Minister and President of the Regional Council expressed their international and regional visions on the rarefaction of water resources and how to cope with them. Does its increasing scarcity make us more intelligent?

The Adour-Garonne basin is that most impacted by climate change out of the six French basins. According to the Garonne 2050 study commissioned by the Water Agency, the natural low flow rates of the Garonne basin will fall by 20 to 50% by 2050, in an agricultural region with dynamic demographics, with 50,000 new inhabitants per year in the city of Toulouse.

For Martin Malvy, action is needed in three directions: save water without penalising users, improve its quality; seek new resources by relying on research in order to develop new agricultural technologies that consume less water; and new ways of consuming it. “We must act quickly”, he emphasised. And together, insisted Erik Orsenna: “the awareness is there. Knowing is one thing. We now need to believe in what we know in order to find appropriate solutions because water is rather like oil. It differs from one basin to another, its uses and its stakeholders, which requires specific efforts”. As for elected representatives, they have to go beyond short term visions by embarking on “solutions that are invisible today but which will bear fruit later!” For the sake of the whole of society, what’s important is that everyone makes the river their own, understands it and gives it greater respect. Teaching on water is necessary, so that this resource is not considered as a right but as a genuine common good to be preserved.

This interesting dialogue was followed by Pascal Mailhos, the Prefect of the Region and a very large number of local decision-makers. IFGR wants to continue this impetus by organising its 7th session in Toulouse and Bordeaux in October, on the question of hydric stress.

To see the entire conference

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