Home - Mission - Manage the WIS-F and produce data

  • The water information system: Multiple aims

    Major elements in the system are designed to meet three goals:
    1. Obtain knowledge on water resources and aquatic environments.
    2. Assess the pressures exerted on aquatic environments and the consequences.
    3. Guide and evaluate public policies designed to protect and restore aquatic environments.

  • Users of water information

    Public institutions and organisations The State, water managers, water users, experts and citizens all require water information. They need to know the aquatic environment characteristics on which their activity can impact.

  • Onema is the national coordinator for the WIS-F

    The Water and biodiversity directorate at the Ecology ministry sets the general guidelines for the WIS-F. Onema provides technical coordination and manages the steering system. Assisted by an interbasin coordination committee and technical groups, Onema sets up the national action plan and is in charge of project programming and supervision. Further responsibilities of Onema concern the financing, the establishing methods and reference systems, the managment of national databases and the many tools involved in processing, using and disseminating the data, as well as reporting to the European commission.

Second national report on the observatory on public water and sanitation services

Under Onema management, the national observatory on public water and sanitation services has published its second report1 on the organisation and performance of French water services, based on data from 2010. It reviews numerous aspects of the human water cycle such as water prices, consumption, leaks in distribution networks, the number and type of services for drinking water and sanitation. For the first time, it indicates the percentage of household budgets devoted to water (1.23%) and it updates former estimates, e.g. the length of French drinking-water networks (1.05 million kilometres) and collective-sanitation networks (370 000 kilometres).

The observatory provides internet access to public data on service organisation, management and performance levels. This information serves to assess the economic, technical, social and environmental performance of the services on an objective basis, acknowledged by all the stakeholders in the sector. The analysis of the data published in the second report provides an in-depth view on the organisation and performance of public water and sanitation services in 2010.

An average price of 3.66 euros per cubic metre

The average overall price for water and collective sanitation as of 1 January 2011 was 3.66 euros per cubic metre (1 000 litres), for an average consumption of 120 cubic metres. Compared to other European countries, that price is lower than in Germany, Denmark, the Netherlands and the U.K.2 The only countries with lower prices were Spain and Italy. The overall price, i.e. the price for drinking water and collective sanitation, varies significantly throughout France. Prices are generally higher to the north of a line running from the north-east to the south-west. The regions Provence-Alpes-Côte-d’Azur (3.19 €/m3) and Bretagne (4.51 €/m3), and the departments Isère (2.84 €/m3) and Aisne (5.03€/m3) were the outliers for the regions and departments respectively. Numerous contextual factors (origin of the water, scattered residences, tourism, etc.) contribute to explaining the differences in price. The percentage of household revenues devoted to "water and sanitation", calculated on a consumption basis of 120 cubic metres per year, is 1.23%. As a basis for comparison, the percentage paid by French households for residential energy is approximately 5%.

One billion cubic metres of leaks in public drinking-water networks

Since the Grenelle environmental meetings, considerable attention has been paid to leaks in drinking-water networks. Leaks in France represent almost one billion cubic metres per year, i.e. 20% of all the treated and distributed water, given that leaks amounting to 5 to 10% represent, in water networks, unavoidable minimum values. It has been estimated that one quarter of all water services must improve yields in order to comply with new regulations.

High-quality drinking water

Compliance levels for bacteriological and physical-chemical criteria in 2010 were 99.5 and 98.9% respectively. These figures confirm the excellent quality of drinking water in France (within the context of the applicable regulations). The quality of water increases with the size of water services. Fragmentation of water services A very large number of towns and local governments manage water and sanitation services. As of 31 December 2010, 24 033 entities managed 34 846 services for drinking water, collective sanitation and non-collective sanitation. For both drinking water and collective sanitation, services representing fewer than 1 000 inhabitants made up approximately two-thirds of all water services in France. Those serving over 3 500 inhabitants represented between 15 and 20% of water services. The summary and complete report may be found at

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