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A water class to mobilize local actors

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  • Project initiators: Watershed Syndicates of Austreberthe-Saffimbec (SMBVAS) and Caux-Seine (SMBVCS)
  • Partner: Seine-Normandie Water Agency
  • Duration of project: one year (2016)
  • Cost of project: €4,380, of which 80% was funded by the Seine-Normandie Water Agency

Context of how the project emerged:

The watershed syndicates of Austreberthe-Saffimbec and Caux-Seine in Seine-Maritime were set up following the severe floods that hit the department at the end of the 1990s. The main mission of these new municipal entities was to get all the municipalities of the watershed on the left bank of the Seine, which include 6 watercourses, to act together regarding flooding according to the principal of upstream-downstream solidarity.

They currently deal more widely with the challenges linked to water and territorial development and want to implement a Water Development and Management Plan (or SAGE) for this purpose. This road map provides a global, coherent and shared view of the problems related to water by taking all its dimensions into account (large and small water cycles, qualitative and quantitative aspects, water as a shared heritage and basis for life) for the benefit of future generations.


Strategy and objectives

Determining the SAGE is a long and complex process and, in the case of the Six Vallées, it was also necessary to get the elected representatives of the two neighboring regions to work together. In addition to its regulatory dimension, the SAGE requires the implication of local actors in order to succeed.

The water class project was therefore set up to communicate, make elected representatives aware and get them involved in the approach, and allow them to become more competent in the subjects they have to manage.

The water class was originally an approach driven by the Water Agencies to improve understanding of water management among schoolchildren. The two structures piloting the SAGE decided to use this tool to mobilize the members of the Local Water Commission (population, professionals, etc.) and the elected representatives of the territory.

5 days of training were organized in 2016, bringing together a total of 70 people, around the main challenges facing the territory: flood risk and risk culture, territorial development, drinking water supply, drainage, diffused pollution and aquatic habitats, etc.


The different teachers of the structures behind the SAGE worked as a team in close collaboration with the Seine Normandie Water Agency, government services and other territorial technicians to offer a program based on active pedagogy (workshops, roleplays, etc.) and visits to the territory likely to generate interaction between the participants.

The project’s innovative characteristics


Thanks to an active pedagogical approach, the water class led to the formation of a core of elected representatives who participated actively in drafting the SAGE and transmitting its messages. It also allowed creating synergies between the work done by technicians and elected representatives with competences in the sectors of water and territorial development.

The feedback has been very positive, and the two syndicates continue to regularly organize theme-based days.


Results and perspectives

The drivers of the project observed greater motivation from the elected representatives of the territory and the development of common actions between the different municipalities with competencies in water and territorial development. By way of example, the pooling of communication and awareness events (for the general public, schoolchildren, elected representatives, professionals, etc.) is now normal practice between the different municipalities. Indeed, this water class allowed everyone to understand interactions in the area of water: flood risk, drinking water production, drainage, aquatic habitats and urban planning are closely linked.

The elected representatives who participated in the water class actively participated in drafting the SAGE and proposed ambitious goals. In addition, they want to continue with this pedagogical approach and extend it to the general public, schoolchildren, actors in territorial development, etc.

How can this project be duplicated to other rivers?

Several factors of success were identified:

  1. The role of territorial coordination was fundamental for the organization of these training days since the system is based on the network of coordinators.
  2. The funding granted to the coordination by the Water Agencies was essential for mobilizing the territories with regard to water. In addition, the involvement of government services was necessary to assist the territories to change.
  3. Lastly, the existence of dynamic structures used to drive this type of cross-disciplinary approach according to a rationale of upstream-downstream solidarity is a condition for success.


#Seine-Maritime #Pedagogy #Dialogue #Waterclass

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Photo Credits: SAGE des Six Vallées

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