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.

Understanding the impact of abstractions on water resources

The main human activities in France require the abstraction of 28 billion cubic metres of fresh water each year. But what exactly lies behind that number? In a context of climate change creating tensions around the use of water resources, that question takes on particular importance. Since the start of the National databank on water abstractions on the internet in January 2015, water stakeholders and the general public can access the quantitative data on abstractions. That information is vital to efforts to anticipate and to adapt management of water resources to climate change

What quantities of water are abstracted in the various regions? What uses underlie water demand? What are the current trends? The above questions are particularly important in a context of changing needs and given the vulnerability of water resources confronted with the consequences of climate change.

Since the beginning of 2015, it has become possible to obtain information on the abstractions carried out in continental surface waters, in groundwater and coastal waters. Just a few clicks are required on the site. The National databank on water abstractions (BNPE) provides on-line data concerning the volumes abstracted at a given point, for a given period, and indicates the use to which the water is put, e.g. irrigation, livestock farming, industry, drinking water, household uses, energy, recreational activities, canals, etc. In addition to the basic data on abstractions, the site also proposes fact sheets summarising the data and maps.

A tangible result of the National plan for adaptation to climate change (PNACC)

Such progress in our knowledge would not be possible without a reliable and consistent information system for the quantitative data on water abstractions spanning the entire country (continental France and the overseas territories). In 2010, Onema was put in charge of managing the BNPE project as part of the Water information system (WIS-FR). The BNPE project was folded into the 2011-2015 PNACC which foresaw setting up "effective means to monitor phenomena involving structural imbalances, shortages and droughts in a context of climate change".

Since then, a highly dynamic process has been launched with 85 000 abstraction points already inventoried. The information collected via fee data supplied by the Water agencies and offices will be filled out with further data from the departmental territorial agencies (DDT) that process abstraction declarations and authorisation requests.

Anticipate consequences and base decisions on solid data

How can the observational data be used to launch action? Given the consequences of climate change, that is a critical issue. More precise projections on the local scale must be available in order to formulate collaborative solutions to meet water needs over the long term. Access to BNPE data will facilitate the preparation of territorial assessments that can then be used by all the participating parties, e.g. State services, local governments, economic players, associations, etc. "By providing easy access to quantitative data on water abstractions, BNPE represents a tremendous asset in initiating dialogue between consumers, notably during the revision of the RBMPs (river-basin management plans). The data will also enhance scientific simulations and thus contribute to setting up scenarios for adaptation to climate change", notes Julie Chataigner, the head of the BNPE project at Onema.

One thing is sure, the preparation of effective responses to climate change requires an overall vision of the issues, combining the quantitative data on water abstractions with groundwater-monitoring data, meteorological data and data on trends in human activities.

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