©Marina Geray

Water: an essential and fragile resource

Water management and the sharing of water resources are the main challenges facing southern Ardèche over the coming years. On the initiative of the Etablissement Public Territorial du Bassin Versant de l’Ardèche, all the stakeholders in the region are involved in the ‘Ardèche 2050’ forward-looking approach.

Like many French and European regions, southern Ardèche is experiencing the effects of climate change. Year after year, the restrictions on water use imposed by the Ardèche Prefecture come into force earlier and earlier in the season.

“It’s a fact. The intensification of heatwaves is having an impact on the local climate,” explains Floriane Morena, director of the Établissement Public Territorial du Bassin Versant de l’Ardèche (EPTB). “An analysis of measurements taken between 1960 and 2019 shows that there has been a rise of 2.5°C on average and up to 3.8°C in summer in the Cévennes foothills, a rise of 38% in evapotranspiration and longer periods without rain.”

Although our rivers are used to summer droughts, they are now being increasingly affected. To optimise the management and sharing of water resources, the EPTB Bassin Versant de l’Ardèche and the Commission Locale de l’Eau (Local Water Commission), which brings together all the water stakeholders in the area, have launched a forward-looking approach called ‘Ardèche 2050’.

The aim is firstly to measure the current and future impacts on water resources, rivers, biodiversity and the activities which depend on them, and secondly to collectively build an adaptation strategy supported by a programme of actions based on a single priority – that of saving the required amount of water in all areas.

Involving the tourism industry

The tourism industry is fully aware of the issues surrounding water and is taking part in this debate. “Tourism in southern Ardèche developed in the 1970s around water-based activities, including canoeing,” explains Anne Trevet, co-director of the Gorges de l’Ardèche-Pont d’Arc Tourist Office. “It’s still a major factor in the attractiveness of our region. Our commitment to sustainable tourism requires us to be ever more attentive and economical.” As for campsites, Stéphane Moulin, vice-president of the Fédération Régionale de l’Hôtellerie de Plein Air and manager of La Roubine campsite in Vallon-Pont-d’Arc, points out that the first water-saving devices and timer taps were installed “around fifteen years ago, and our customers are made aware of this with messages inviting them to save water displayed in our washrooms. At our last meeting in January, a landscape gardener spoke about the importance of planting water-efficient trees and plants on our sites.” Despite these efforts, Stéphane Moulin is aware that more needs to be done. “The law does not currently allow us to do this, but in the next few years we will have to reuse wastewater.”

The Fédération départementale des loueurs d’embarcations ardéchois (Ardèche Federation of Boat Hire Companies), which groups together canoe hire companies, have made the same observation. “Water management.

is a crucial issue for all of us,” admits president Sébastien Papillault. “The trend of recent years will not reverse. We can take action by reducing our water consumption during our daily cleaning of equipment and by improving our landing stages and jetties. Indirectly, we’re pooling our journeys when the boats are hauled up.”

Tall oaks from little acorns grow and all the stakeholders in the region – local authorities, professionals and private individuals – must commit themselves responsibly to this approach to saving water by adapting uses and activities to the water resources available.

© Marina Geray-116

This spring and in September, the EPTB is offering around fifteen free, fun and family-friendly events to raise public awareness of the importance of saving water, including the workshop ‘Mon potager économe en eau’ (My water-saving vegetable garden), a discovery walk along the Ardèche river, and a stand ‘J’économise l’eau à la maison’ (I’m saving water at home). Several meetings on water and climate change in the water catchment area have also been organised.


The Établissement Public Territorial du Bassin Versant de l’Ardèche (Regional Public Institution for the Ardèche River Basin) now encompasses the Ardèche Claire, Beaume-Drobie and Chassezac river syndicates. Its mission is to preserve rivers by analysing water quality, carrying out maintenance work on vegetation, preventing flooding and raising awareness about the need to save water, etc.

Contact : +33(0)4 75 37 82 20


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