Programme OS5f Governance of water
Towards a new drinking water governance in France? From Europe to
Author(s): Aurélie Roussary
Centre d’Etude et Recherche
Technique Organisation Pouvoir (CERTOP)
Université Toulouse le Mirail
Maison de la Recherche
31058 Toulouse Cedex
(33)5 61 50 36 51 / (33)6 77
Session: OS5f Governance of water
In France, if quality of distributed waters globally improved for 20 years, thanks to improving and generalization of
treatment technique, quality of ground and superficial waters did not stop degrading. But, the European Water
Framework Directive (WFD) imposes, on the horizon 2015, the good ecological status of water. In a requirement of
means is so added a requirement of concrete efficiency of devices. Concurrently, the territorialisation of the water
policy saw itself strengthened by an institutional context which promotes the subsiduarity principle as a pledge of
public policies effectiveness.
If the necessity of rethinking the national water policy is presented as imperative, the
institutionalization and the concrete implementation of change is more problematic.
What are the territorial
governance forms of drinking water which are outlined through the arbitrations between : sanitary requirement,
implying the reassurance of the supplies (qualitatively and quantitatively), environmental pressure and cost control
(rationalization of infrastructures, maintain of a socially acceptable price of drinking water) ?
We notice two logics
which can have varied modalities of coordination. They emanate from the analysis of parliamentary works, from
debates of the Water law and from empirical researches : a logic of river basin, to reinforce the status of the Water
Agencies and their financing capacity ; and a logic of local government (Departmentalisation), based on an
intensification of the role of “departement " (departmental funds, departmental syndicate of drinking water supply).
“Departement” is presented as the relevant scale of management to conciliate the stakes relative to drinking water
Those logics fit into a long term process, implying various scales of management (national-regional-
local), engage the implication (administrative, technical and financial), the responsibility and the partnership between
multiple actors of the public and private sphere. We make the hypothesis that stakes heterogeneousness draws new
forms of drinking water territorial governance that we want to describe and analysis. At the same time, we attend a
tightening of political choices on sanitary questions and an assertion of the kingly missions of delegated State
services. This is to reach objectives defined by the law. The third hypothesis is this situation leads to a dissolution of
environmental stake in the local and sanitary stakes.
We suggest putting a more specific glance on three levels of
public action structuralization (national, regional and local) in conservation of drinking water resource.
have to be underline. First of all, each axis cannot be analyzed outside global political, institutional and organizational
frame in which it joins. Furthermore, following the example of WFD elaboration process, filtering processes in
decision exist within, but also between, each level of governance, both by ascending and descending transfers. That
is why these three approaches are complementary.
A transversal analysis of this multi-level approach has to allow
understanding the variety, complexity and redefining of drinking water resource management. Through this research,
we intend to seize tensions between stability and social change at various scales of implementation of health-
environment public policies.