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National plan for adaptation to climate change

In July, the Ecology ministry presented the national plan for adaptation to climate change. The plan is the result of long discussions with NGOs, unions, professional organisations, elected officials and public agencies, and it proposes 230 measures to enable the many sectors confronted with inevitable change (agriculture, tourism, forestry, health, territorial planning, etc.) to adapt. Onema participated in the discussions and now manages and funds a number of projects to improve monitoring of water resources and determine the vulnerability of aquatic environments to climate change.

The various climate scenarios all come to the same conclusion that temperatures in France will rise by the end of the century. This will impact rivers in two ways, first a reduction in flow rates that will vary depending on the season and the region, thus increasing pressures on water resources, and secondly, through modifications in their thermal regime. Climate change should also affect precipitations, though less information is available on this aspect.

The national plan includes five major projects for water resources. The goals are to 1) improve knowledge on the impact of climate change on water resources, 2) develop monitoring tools, 3) save and make better use of water, 4) assist in developing activities compatible with locally available resources and 5) reinforce integration of climate-change issues in water planning and management.

Onema also funds three projects to learn more on the vulnerability of water resources. First, the impact of climate variability on the hydrological regimes of rivers will be determined on the basis of a recently established reference network to monitor low-water levels. The network has already confirmed that low-water levels have worsened in France over the past 40 years. The second project will map the vulnerability of groundwater to climate change. Third, the idea of artificially recharging groundwater with treated wastewater is being studied to formulate recommendations on how to check its effectiveness and to ensure that it is correctly implemented.

Monitoring of water resources over the mid to long term must also be reinforced. To that end, Onema is funding a BRGM project to set up a piezometric reference network intended to monitor the impact of climate change on groundwater. The agency is also in charge of establishing a national observatory on low-water levels and creating a national database on water draw-offs to monitor changes in demand for water. At the same time, Onema is working on optimising the existing monitoring networks (meteorology, hydrology, water temperatures) that are required for water management.


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