Emmanuel Macron went to Savines-le-Lac this Thursday, on the sidelines of the presentation of a water plan in the Hautes-Alpes. Welcomed by many demonstrators, armed with flags from different unions, the head of state considered that the protest against the pension reform “does not mean that everything must stop”, and does not prevent the president from the Republic to “go out and meet the French”.

This body of water is eagerly awaited to improve water management, threatened by global warming. A significant challenge, since “none of the scenarios tells us that the situation will improve”, advanced the president, at the beginning of his speech. At the end of winter, “80% of our water tables are low or very low. Before the 2022 drought, we were at 50%. The challenge is there and it has accelerated further and therefore we must respond to it, “he continued, before expressing concern about “situations of great stress next summer” in some municipalities.

For the establishment of this water plan, the Head of State has defined several axes. First, he wants to “accelerate sobriety everywhere and over time”. He mentioned here the production of electricity which represents “51% of withdrawals, 12% of consumption with nuclear and hydroelectricity”. An investment plan will be designed to “switch our power plants to closed circuits” in order to adapt nuclear power to climate change. He then called for “adapting the pace of our dams to climate issues”.

The second objective is to “fight against leaks and modernize our networks”. To do this, he announced that he would put on the table “180 million euros to deal as a priority with 2,000 fragile municipalities, those which are in the most critical situations, as well as what have been called the 170 black spots which are identified , i.e. municipalities that lose more than 50% of the water”.

Emmanuel Macron also wants to invest massively in the reuse of wastewater and the mobilization of new resources. “We want to reuse 300 million cubic meters, or three Olympic swimming pools per municipality, to give an example, or 3,500 bottles of water per French person per year. Today, only 1% of wastewater is reused. The goal is to get to 10%.

He subsequently announced that he would put in place a “progressive and responsible pricing” of water which could be “generalized in France”. “The first cubic meters are charged at a modest price, close to cost”, and “then beyond a certain level, the price per cubic meter will be higher”, he explained.

Inevitably, the head of state returned to the subject of “basins”, reasons for violent clashes on Saturday in Sainte-Soline. He affirmed the usefulness of artificial water storages for farmers, but proposed that future ones take better account of water scarcity. “It’s not about privatizing water. Or allow some to grab it,” he said, repeating that water was “indispensable to our food sovereignty.”

After paying homage to “an innovative water policy from the 1960s, with management by basins making them work together from source to ocean, all water stakeholders – elected officials, farmers, industrialists , energy companies”, he announced the creation of an Ecowatt of water, “which will make it possible to empower everyone because when the drought is coming and the difficulties are there, every gesture counts”.

He then asked each sector for a water sobriety plan by summer. “Ministers will meet in the next few days across all energy-related sectors: industry, tourism, leisure, agriculture. It works well when everyone knows the evolution of the situation, when everyone is empowered and when we know that the efforts are shared. »

“There are 200 protesters: does that mean the Republic has to stop? The answer is no, “said the president, when asked about the presence nearby of demonstrators demanding the withdrawal of the reform raising the retirement age to 64 years. Emmanuel Macron also returned to the clashes in Sainte-Soline last weekend. According to him, thousands of people had “simply come to make war”.