It is a “small” document of only two pages, but whose size is inversely proportional to the number of characters lying on the paper. Because the motion voted on Tuesday by the Loire Bretagne Basin Committee almost unanimously (137 for out of 138 voters in secret ballots), offers a beginning of a way out of the crisis to radically opposed actors around the project of water retention basins , more commonly known as “mega-basins”, in the small town of Sainte-Soline, in Deux-Sèvres. An explosive file, both figuratively and literally in view of the clashes between opponents and the police, last March, which left several injured.
“Hours of meetings, transactions”
Proof of this tension, the CRS had come in numbers on Tuesday to Bourges (18) and a drone flew over the Creps, place hosting the plenary session. Even if no protester, in the end, disturbed the plenary session.
In this case, mediation, led by the president of the basin committee – the former regional councilor of Brittany Thierry Burlot – has been engaged since January. A job requiring great diplomacy and a method since the body, which manages water over a vast territory ranging from Puy-en-Velay, in Auvergne, to Brest, brings together actors with very often conflicting objectives, such as the FNSEA and France Nature Environment. And it took time to arrive at this document, as Thierry Burlot points out, not hiding his joy at having reached this consensus. “These are hours of meetings, transactions, listening. We must have done about thirty versions before we got there. »
So what does this motion, of which Le Télégramme has obtained a copy, say? First, that “the search for sobriety and water savings for all uses is a priority in a context of climate change, by all available means, including innovative projects for the reuse of wastewater and rainwater if appropriate. An open door therefore to the construction of “basins”, but under specific conditions, the document hastens to specify.
In the context of public financing, the construction of “substitution reserves” is thus necessarily part of a territorial project for water management (PTGE), “in a collective framework between the actors of a watershed . » By following a strict course: adapting withdrawals to available resources and contributing to the environmental objectives defined by the Loire-Brittany basin.
For this motion, the creation of basins is, moreover, not possible without research and obtaining agricultural water savings. It also gives a very clear vision of the agricultural model towards which the actors must tend. Each basin project must then be backed by “individual and collective commitments made by the irrigating farmers, favorable to the agro-ecological transition, with an obligation of result. »
In summary, a basin, why not, but provided that agricultural practices accelerate in their mutation towards a model more respectful of aquatic biodiversity and the environment.
“In climate change, there are two pillars: adaptation, for example substitution reservoirs and mitigation with wetlands or soil storage. We say we can’t do one without the other,” explains Thierry Burlot. “But there is no question either of storing water to irrigate the corn as we have been doing for years,” he warns.
If we fail in Sainte-Soline, nothing will be done elsewhere
The document signed on Tuesday also specifies some concrete actions to be taken: reduction of phytosanitary measures, transition to organic farming, diversification of production, creation of hedges and embankments… With “public governance”, to ensure monitoring and supervision. In particular, a pact must be signed between the local authorities. “Sainte-Soline was seen by many as grabbing. We say that we need public governance, total transparency and water sharing”, underlines the president of the basin committee, who gives himself until the end of the year to move towards a solid solution. . While affirming that the project will evolve considerably. “Everyone understood that we could not continue like this. »
Thierry Burlot knows that this motion will be watched closely by the government and the other territories where basins could see the light of day in the future. Because this mediation is intended to serve as a model. “If we fail in Sainte-Soline, nothing will be done elsewhere. It is a capital issue. »
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