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Water management in France

Water management: responsibilities and structure

State: Responsibility for regulation

At national level

  • National water policy (notably translation into French law of European Directives).

The Directorate of Water at the Ministry for Sustainable Development
The Directorate defines and organises state interventions in the general water domain in cooperation with other ministries authorised to act in specific water use areas (Health, Agriculture, Industry, etc.).

At basin level

  • The definition and implementation of regulation and enforcement (water and fishing policy)

    The 6 prefects in charge of coordinating the basin
    The prefects coordinate actions taken in the water domain by different state services at basin level. They approve the SDAGEs drawn up by the Basin Committees.


At regional or departmental level

  • The devolved state services
    These are placed under the authority of the prefects and implement state policies in technical and regulatory aspects.


Basin organisations: Responsibility for planning and financial incentivisation at basin level.


  • Planning (SDAGE) and Water policy at basin level

The Rhone-Mediterranean and Corsica Basin Comittees

These Committees bring together the water stakeholders at the level of the two hydrographic basins, namely: representatives from the territorial communities, users, voluntary organisations and the state. Their mission is threefold:- to draw up a Master Plan for the Refurbishment and Management of Water Resources (SDAGE) and to monitor its implementation,- to guide the Water Agencies’ policy on intervention,- to provide their views on large-scale projects.Financial incentivisation (charges and assistance)

The Water Agency

The Water Agency collects charges for water use and grant financial assistance for fighting pollution, improving water resource management and restoring aquatic environments.


Territorial communities: Responsibility for local implementation

Regions and Departments

  • Link between area development policy and water policy through financing initiatives

Regional and General Councils
These Councils can provide technical and financial support to the communes.


  • Local management of aquatic environments

Local management structures
These structures are organised in the form of inter-commune or joint associations with the capacity to provide a link between communes, departments and regions.
These structures run and implement aquatic environment policies by linking all the area’s stakeholders (catchment area, bay, aquifers, etc.).


  • Responsibility for the drinking water and purification service

The Mayor is responsible for the distribution of drinking water and the collection and processing of waste water within the commune. The Mayor has the option of organising this on an inter-commune basis.
The Mayor is responsible for the investment decisions which may attract technical and financial assistance from the Water Agency and / or the Region and / or the Department.
The Mayor is also responsible for choosing whether to devolve management to the municipal or (state controlled) associations or to private industrial Groups such as Lyonnaise des Eaux, Générale des Eaux, SAUR, etc.

Economic stakeholders, Associations

Local implementation and / or proactiveness or opinion leadership

  • Developers

Industrial figures, farmers, etc.
These are responsible for the construction and management of their own installations for treating pollution, diverting water, etc.

  • Consultation and proposals

Users, consumer associations, environmental protection associations, professional bodies, etc.
These stakeholders are also involved in the decision making process governing planning and management through representation in local structures.

ECOPASS - ISO 14001 - ISO 9001

Agence de l'eau Rhône Méditerranée Corse • 2-4 allée de Lodz • 69363 Lyon Cedex 07
tél : 04 72 71 26 00 • fax : 04 72 71 26 01