Given the issue of the water supply, usage optimisation must remain a priority. Many water-saving measures are known and implemented in the French and European territories. They have resulted in water savings despite not being able to measure these savings precisely. In this context, the MAC Eau (MAîtrise et Consommation d'EAU) project aims to shed new light on the matter with the measurement of the impact of water-saving actions at regional scale (Gironde), the impact on water consumption and withdrawal, and to offer effective measures transferable to other French and European territories. This project is part of the process implemented in Gironde with the “Nappes profondes” water management scheme which prioritises usage optimisation in order to reduce withdrawals from deficient deep groundwater.
The project’s actions
The MAC Eau project is composed of 3 parts:
- distribution of 80,000 water-saving kits: these kits are distributed free of charge within the Gironde department to volunteer subscribers in selected areas. The point of this distribution is to measure the efficiency of this type of equipment on consumption.
- installation of 70 rainwater collectors: depending on the methods used, rainwater collection can be an interesting measure to implement in certain areas. These collectors will only be installed in the Pimpine basin where identified as pertinent.
- implementation of pressure modulating valves on the Blayais water syndicate system: the reduction of pressure in adapted areas can contribute to reducing the risk of damage to the system, and also reduce the number of losses caused by leaks. This explorative component will offer the opportunity to assess the suitability of the installation of this equipment.
The MAC Eau project has 4 partners:
- The Gironde Council (project coordinator):
o As a stakeholder in water management in the Gironde department, the Council also acts as the Local Water Commission’s administrative secretariat. Creator of the “Drinking Water Technical Assistance Unit” which helps the local authorities monitor the operation of their networks, the Council has continued to enhance the water-saving policy in its region since the creation of the SMEGREG.
o Its role in the MAC Eau project involves administrative project coordination, communications, action implementation (kit distribution on the Pimpine syndicate, in public buildings, set-up of rainwater retrieval systems) and analysis of actions.
- SMEGREG (joint association for the study and management of the Gironde water resource)
o SMEGREG is a public body that was created in 1998 by the Gironde Council and the Bordeaux Urban Community. Its objective is to preserve the department’s water supply via the “Nappes profondes” groundwater development and management scheme. It also acts as the Local Water Commission’s technical secretariat, on behalf of which it carries out technical, legal, economic and financial studies, coordinating and monitoring the implementation of this scheme.
o Its role in the MAC Eau project is the implementation and organisation of the distribution of kits within the department as well as analysing the impact on groundwater withdrawal.
- Town of Mérignac:
o Since 2003, the town of Mérignac has led an active water management and water saving policy on in its buildings and facilities. The town’s “Agenda 21” affirms its commitment to reducing consumption (up to 30% between 2002 and 2014). In order to do so, it will seek to limit leaks on its network, bring down consumption, optimise garden watering and raise awareness of the need to preserve the water supply.
o Its role in the MAC Eau project is the organisation of the distribution of 10,000 kits within Mérignac.
- Blayais water syndicate:
o Comprised of 33 municipalities in the north of Gironde, Blayais’s intermunicipal drinking water syndicate provides more than 38,000 inhabitants with drinking water. Since 2010 the syndicate has implemented a detailed segmentation of the network, an analysis tool which is essential for optimising leak detection and improvement of the network performance.
o Its role in the MAC Eau project is the installation of pressure control valves on its network in order to optimise its operation and reduce the number of leaks, whilst measuring the impact on the linear loss index.
The project’s framework and financing
The MAC Eau project is part of the European Union’s Life+Environment programme. The general objective of this programme is to contribute to the development and the implementation of environmental policy and legislation.
LIFE +, the Financial Instrument for the Environment, has co-financed 3,708 projects since 1992, contributing more than €2.8 million to environmental protection. Each year the European Commission launches one call for proposals for LIFE+ projects in Europe and in some cases countries outside of the European Union.
The current phase of the LIFE+ programme runs from 2007 to 2013 and has a budget of €2.143 billion. More than 1000 proposals were examined following the LIFE+ for the environment call for proposals that ended in July 2011. In the end 202 projects were chosen, for overall financing of around €268.4 million. These projects propose action in the areas of nature protection, environmental policy and climate change as well as promoting communication and awareness raising campaigns on environmental issues.
13 projects were chosen in France, totalling €36.5 million, a sharp increase compared to the last call where only 8 projects were selected.
MAC EAU is one of the projects chosen in 2011 and runs from 16 July 2011 to 31 December 2016. The total budget of the project is €1,886,476 and receives finance from:
- the European Union (50%)
- Adour Garonne Water Agency (20%)
- Aquitaine Regional Council (10%).
The rest is financed by the own capital of the different partners.