At a time when preserving water resources has become a crucial ecological issue, directly linked to climate change, wasting 1 billion m 3 each year is no longer sustainable. The Channelers recall that solutions exist to better preserve this heritage, which invisible, is no less precious and must be passed on to future generations.
The imperative to renew water networks more quickly
The annual renewal rate of the drinking water network in France is 0,67%, i.e., on average, one renewal every 160 years, whereas the lifetime of a pipeline is much lower, around 80 years old. The average efficiency of the drinking water distribution networks estimated for the year 2020 at 80,1% is not satisfactory, especially since the rate of groundwater recharge is relatively low.
On a "whole of France" scale, this represents 20% of the volume of drinking water lost, i.e. out of five liters of water distributed in the network, which have been captured and treated, one liter which never reaches the consumer's faucet, due to leaks in the pipe networks which are slow to be renovated, secured or replaced.
The duty of better asset management and knowledge
It is a real asset management, starting with the detailed inventory of the networks, which makes it possible, in particular, to target the most efficient and profitable investments. But, with an index of knowledge and asset management (ICGP) which amounts to 100 points out of 120 for drinking water networks, knowledge is only fragmentary.
This average also hides disparities: all years combined, about half of the drinking water utilities, which are not a priori those with the best knowledge and management of their assets, did not fill in the ICGP in the database. Sispea data, and 10% of drinking water services have an index of less than 40 points (most often small rural communities).
Depreciation of heritage faster than its renewal
In recent years, although the self-financing capacity of local authorities has remained stable, investments have tended to decline, creating a depreciation of assets faster than its renewal. The investment deficit for water and sanitation networks is estimated at nearly €2 billion per year. And, if we don't act very quickly, the renewal work will obviously cost more.
Les Canaliseurs, actors committed to placing the issue of water at the heart of climate change
There is an urgent need to invest for the territories in terms of networks in a curative and preventive way, to finally reduce leaks, thus reduce withdrawals from the natural aquatic environment, avoid wasting energy (water pumping, treatment to make it drinkable) and to use products for treatment unnecessarily. What's more, the water intended for human consumption comes from resources that are increasingly difficult to exploit, because they are more distant, more polluted or already in high demand.
However, pipeline companies are implementing a whole range of solutions to strengthen the performance and resilience of networks, their ability to anticipate and adapt to climate change, to limit withdrawals from the resource, in particular in the territories where it is under severe water stress.
Work to replace faulty pipes, deployment of the drinking water interconnection to connect and secure the distribution networks between municipalities, and thus reduce inequalities between territories, new means of storing water or reusing treated wastewater, adaptation and depollution of rainwater networks, construction of adductor…, it is a multitude of efficient solutions that are implemented by pipeline companies.
Les Canaliseurs also support and develop technological innovations to better monitor water networks, through a system of pipes connected using chips, to facilitate the detection of leaks and anticipate complete deterioration. To locate leaks, other devices are also deployed, including research using tracer gas, electroacoustics or sniffer dogs.
But too much of this work, which would make it possible to fight effectively against leaks, is still slow to be carried out. And this, despite the long-standing commitment of the Pipe Operators, in particular, to support the implementation of heritage inventories and quality charters of Astee and to raise awareness of this issue among all stakeholders in the water sector.
For Pierre Rampa, president of the Canaliseurs: “The fight led by the Canalisers to prioritize work to renew and secure water networks makes particularly sense today and does not fail to relaunch the debate. Our companies, our professions have a leading role to play in improving their asset management, ensuring optimal hydraulic operation, maintaining quality and sustaining pipeline infrastructure. Let's hope that in the face of this historic drought, all the solutions that contribute to providing citizens with a quality water supply will finally be deployed in all territories on a sustainable basis. The Profession will soon publish the results of the work carried out by its 80 territorial delegates, with the association La Fresque du Climat, to act in the face of climate change. »