The Canal de Provence will invest heavily in irrigating the region

This is a project that begins at the right time while the South is suffering from thirst. The Provencal Canal, which carries water from Verdon across the region, will begin reconstruction worth 400 million euros to better irrigate the southeast. Voted on the last board of directors of the company that manages the work, SCP, the project aims to “prepare Bouches-du-Rhône and Var for climate problems,” according to its director of development Benoit Moreau.

In detail, 150 million will be allocated for the protection of infrastructure, for example, by installing lifting pumps on existing reserves. “A large number of pipes, starting from the main canal, date back to the 1970s. We need to double them to prevent them from rupturing, or increase their flow to cover the progression of needs,” explains Benoit Moreau. This applies to the route of buried pipes between the Valtred Valley and Lavera, south of Martig, which is to create a reserve for water supply to the Etang de Berre refineries.

60% of water deficit

The remaining 250 million is intended to expand the network in drought-affected areas. The main service that needs to be strengthened is the Var center. Although there has been almost no rain in the region since February, almost the entire department has been put on high alert, with restrictions on use for residents, industrialists and farmers.

“This is the driest spring since the beginning of our research in 1959,” said Météo France, who recorded only 64 millimeters of rainfall in the region since the beginning of the year, compared to usually three times as much.

In April, its sensors already noticed a shortage of water in the soil from 40% to 60%. At the end of May, the department’s 75 municipalities were put on high alert, along with all forest fire protection and control services, which cover two-thirds of the department. “There is a danger to fauna and flora,” warns Eric Hansen, director of the Pak and Corsica branch of the French Biodiversity Office.

Even if the announced work obviously does not solve the current drought, experts fear that water scarcity will become structural.

10 thousand hectares of additional irrigation

This means that the bullpen investment program is expected. By 2027, 20,000 hectares, or a third of the agricultural area of ​​Var, and 30 to 50 departments of the department should be connected to the canal of Provence. The network expansion project will also cover the Luberon in Vaucluse and the Valenzol Plateau, known for its lavender, with a total of 10,000 hectares of additional irrigation from buried pipes from 20 centimeters to 1.2 meters deep.

Major road works are planned, some of which will require impact studies and utility bills. “Our work is important for the life of the region,” insists Benoit Moreau.

Since 1969, its water, taken from Verdon, has provided 70,000 hectares of agricultural land (half of the region’s irrigated area), more than 8,000 industrial facilities and 2 million inhabitants (including 40% of Marseille’s consumption) through 216 kilometers of canals. , 82 local dams and reservoirs and almost 5,000 kilometers of pipelines. “The reserves accumulated in Verdon guarantee flows during the two-year drought,” the SCP said.

Photoelectric cover

Two other monumental canals provide water circulation in the region: the Durans Canal, which is operated by EDF mainly for energy purposes, and the Marseille Canal, built during the reign of Louis Philippe. In contrast, the Canal de Provence is mostly underground. “By limiting evaporation, we recover 85% of the abstracted water, where others may lose more than a quarter of their resources,” continues Benoit Moreau.

One part of his work will further improve this figure. It provides photoelectric coverage of 13 kilometers of open channels out of 70 that can be. In addition to protecting the resource, the installation will allow you to directly cool the panels to improve their performance and produce enough to achieve carbon neutrality in the network. The investment amounts to 15 million euros.