Piezometer reading of an abandoned well. © BRGM - A. Portal
The partner interview
Valery Morard Deputy Managing Director, Agence de l’Eau Loire-Bretagne
What is the role of a water agency today?
Valéry Morard – The Agence de l’Eau Loire-Bretagne is one of six water agencies in mainland France. It covers 36 departments, and 28% of the national territory. We manage a network set up to monitor surface water, rivers, water bodies, groundwater, coastal waters, and so on. We take part in implementing national and European policies on water protection and management, while also providing elected officials and water users with an overview of management-related issues, as well as financial resources and tools to fight pollution and to manage and protect resources and wetlands. How would I sum up our role today? Quite simply, I’d say that we’re working to restore the quality of water and wetlands. We are doing this through a six-year action programme based on a roadmap set out in the Master Plan for Water Development and Management for the period 2022-2027. It includes actions relating to knowledge and monitoring, as well as qualitative and quantitative objectives.
So what is the purpose of working with BRGM?
V.M. – First and foremost, our cooperation with BRGM is continuous. BRGM is a key player in the water sector, with its expertise in groundwater monitoring and national piezometric network, as well as its access to local and updated hydrogeological data from SIGES (Information System for Groundwater Management). But that’s not all. The main advantage for us is that we are able to work in cooperation with BRGM. The approach extends well beyond the sort of service we might get from a consultancy. This is clearly important in the current context: 2022 was a pivotal year in terms of water supplies. A prolonged and severe lack of rain ended the myth of abundant resources, and highlighted the need for regions to adapt to situations of tension.
All regions of the basin were affected, including Brittany. Hence the need for projects such as “Water for Tomorrow”, to quote just one. This initiative reflects the cooperation we wish to pursue between the agency, BRGM, a water utility and the region. The aim is to understand and map flows and resources, and to study their evolution in the light of climate change.
How would you review this collaboration?
V.M. – As I said, we are continuously stepping up our collaboration in the light of the issues I mentioned earlier. Closer ties are essential to efforts to address the growing challenges. We’ve reached a stage now where these links are almost organic: at the end of 2022 we included a new BRGM representative in our basin committee, Dominique Darmendrail, who is also co-pilot of the programme “One Water – Water as a Common Good“. Furthermore, the availability of water resources is a source of growing conflict, and we need expert input. Again in 2022, we set up a scientific council to provide an independent viewpoint, with a panel of specialists, including two people from BRGM!