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(en) France, Alternative Libertaire AL #273 - Water management: Municipalities, soluble in intermunicipal co-operation (fr, it, pt) [machine translation]
Sat, 17 Jun 2017 09:43:20 +0300
The territorial hierarchy has undergone a great change called the NOTRe law. This law
imposes a strengthening of the regions and communities of communes, which will increase
their fields of competence by 2020. The power of the communes is greatly diminished, which
gives perhaps the opportunity to conquer other Management, at the grass-roots level, by
users and users, for example. ---- The new territorial organization of the Republic (NOTRe
law) voted in 2015 was highly publicized, but not for good reasons. The reduction of the
number of regions from 23 to 12 has rather unleashed the passions of identity than a
criticism of the centralized power. By increasing the size of the regions and their area
of competence, such as the management of public transport or the economic decision on the
territory, the State wanted a real concentration of power. Another symbol of
concentration: the eight metropolises created so that it weighs more heavily on the
territory. They access a regime of autonomy with respect to the hierarchy which will
favor their spreading, as if one did not have enough problems with that.
But the question that will interest us here is rather that of intermunicipalities. Given
the difficulties of municipalities in financing the development of " progress ", the
State believes in common funding and accelerates the establishment of communities of
communes. What is called a transfer of competence from the municipalities will enable them
to manage the water distribution and sanitation, waste, tourism, sports equipment,
reception areas, Urban planning (PLU) or the cultural policy of the village. Of course the
municipalities will be part of the intermunicipality, but in proportion to their
importance and the smaller ones will have almost no decision-making power. They will
become local managers of the intentions of the community of municipalities.
The link between these two levels of restructuring ? The hierarchy. Fewer prime
contractors, larger spaces that allow for more " efficient " decisions . The risk is
that the top of the hierarchy begins to demand anything and that the municipalities
completely withdraw from the train in motion.
The example of water
The NOTRe law being a long text, we will concentrate on the new scheme of water. To begin,
it is new establishments with own taxation but forming part of intercommunality (public
institutions of inter-municipal cooperation or EPCI) that will manage water and its
sanitation. No municipality will have direct management of this subject, a threshold per
number of inhabitants forcing the communes to create common establishments. According to
Marc Laimé , we should move from 15,000 current establishments to 1,500 in three years,
an unprecedented change.
It might be welcomed that common means are being put in place for more coherent water
management, but in fact many municipalities will lose the management of their resources
and ultimately the resource itself. Indeed, large management institutions do not mean that
technical competence will be retained. On the contrary, the greater the responsibility,
the more institutions will want to subcontract private and / or wastewater management to
the private sector, as well as distribution networks. And on the other hand, the larger
the markets, the more private they will try to get them.
Getting out of the private gear is then very hard, due to the loss of competent staff, or
the opacity of the management of subcontractors. With a little bad luck a municipality
which had its own sources will see them condemned and replaced by the normed water coming
from the network of the subcontractor, pumped sometimes very far. A box like Véolia Eau,
which distributes water to 23 million people in France, must probably lick its chops to
see all these EPCI agglomerate small municipalities that never wanted to privatize !
Another innovation of the law: the competence of management of the aquatic environment and
prevention of the floods (GEMAPI). This competence voted in 2014 forces membership to
groups (EPCI) that will manage the pollution and the complete cycle of water on their
territory. Related to the restructuring of the NOTRe law it aims for more consistency, for
The organization of work and expertise will be done on a larger scale, by watershed, in
commissions led by economic actors and politicians. It should be noted that the watershed
is a specificity of water, technically well-founded because it relies on the water course
due to gravity (the flow of streams from its source to the sea ) And not by technocratic
unity (the 12 regions for example).
The problem is that there are six watersheds. It is therefore at the level of vast
territories that decisions will be taken. Large-scale solutions will, in most cases,
encourage high-investment technical responses, where small-scale solutions lead to more
practical, less costly or more intelligent solutions.
The " higher " levels are the department and the region or even the metropolis for the
other areas of competence. Beyond the hierarchy, there are the master plans, which
analyzed until 2016 the water capacities and are now implementing the state policy. Then
the Water Agency, and finally the Water Framework Directive (WFD), which is the European
Taking the objectives of the WFD into account, in terms of public policy, all European
countries need to improve the quality of drinking water, but also watercourses, and limit
The damage caused by the floods.
And for the capitalist side of things, it is above all to increase the quantity of water
available and to quantify its exploitation. All these evaluations are already carried out
on the territory (or in progress) and the law NOTRe by its obligation of EPCI will enforce
the directive by 2025. This forced march will oblige the municipalities to many
investments without any power of decision.
If the law has not gone as far as the government had foreseen, conceding, for example, the
possibility of blocking the municipalities, it has nevertheless caused a significant
The first ones to be mounted to the niche are the mayors who have even split themselves
from the creation of blogs and have multiplied the reviews to express their discontent.
Obviously, they see their own obsolescence programmed if not by this law, perhaps by the
It took one hair for a new election to be created in order to elect the intermunicipality
and thus replace them with the communes. This is the will of the State. The mayors think
that it is necessary to refocus on their power, that they are the only ones able to create
a cohesion in the village or the city. There is some public support for this anger since
voters are also dispossessed of their means of action (if not veto power). It will no
longer be possible to refer directly to an elected official for any planning matter, such
as water abstraction or any other local issue.
An opportunity for local action ?
Far from being limited to a water issue, all the powers of the communes are affected. It
is a real emptiness that is created and it is necessary to grasp it. Some mayors do not
hesitate to say that this divide favors the FN by separating institutions from
administrations, favoring the impression of isolation. They are probably right and want to
pull the cover on them and they, but if the discontent is heard, it may also be to
criticize it and get people to ask questions other than those news. What is a local
elected official when the decision is made elsewhere ? So what is it to be an elector ?
What are the means of maintaining local power ? These questions arise for people who are
involved in the affairs of their locality. And so it's a matter of taking advantage of
it! In these moments of uncertainty, other issues can be better understood, such as those
of the nature of power, the harmfulness of centralism, the uselessness of electoral polls,
or how to make a decision outside the system. Experiences such as the democratic
confederacy of Murray Bookchin or what happens in the commune of Saillans are based on the
struggle against aggression by the planning of the territory and give ideas to many
people. It is important that the transition to the NOTRe law be seen as aggression, and
that this creates openings. The uselessness of electoral events, or how to make a decision
outside the system. Experiences such as the democratic confederacy of Murray Bookchin or
what happens in the commune of Saillans are based on the struggle against aggression by
the development of the territory and give ideas to many people. It is important that the
transition to the NOTRe law be seen as aggression, and that this creates openings. The
uselessness of electoral events, or how to make a decision outside the system. Experiences
such as the democratic confederacy of Murray Bookchin or what happens in the commune of
Saillans are based on the struggle against aggression by the planning of the territory and
give ideas to many people. It is important that the transition to the NOTRe law be seen as
aggression, and that this creates openings.
So much for the theory of representative democracy, but it remains the technical aspect. A
restructuring of the territorial hierarchy will serve above all the local economic leaders
since it is a matter of putting all the means in the same basket. This organization will
be costly and will favor the large private companies which will be able, for example, to
implement watercourses on tens of kilometers of river in one fell swoop. They will be the
only ones able to respond to such calls for tenders. And most important, the alternative
by a local initiative will be even more impossible for lack of cohesion. To address the
issue of sanitation, Is it better to follow the proposals of the intermunicipalities and
to install a purification plant by village which will isolate everyone or transform the
use that is made of water and then its recycling collectively so that the resources do not
Are more threatened, ie by becoming fully aware of production and environmental issues?
Collectively, this means that all the inhabitants would impose themselves at the table of
discussions, without remaining in the roles of " actors " by sector that the state wants
to play them. There is a place for local activists. That is to say by taking full
consciousness of the production and environmental issues? Collectively, this means that
all the inhabitants would impose themselves at the table of discussions, without remaining
in the roles of " actors " by sector that the state wants to play them. There is a place
for local activists. That is to say by taking full consciousness of the production and
environmental issues? Collectively, this means that all the inhabitants would impose
themselves at the table of discussions, without remaining in the roles of " actors " by
sector that the state wants to play them. There is a place for local activists.
Reinette drowned (AL Aveyron)
France and its private water ecosystem
At present, 80 % of the water distribution in the national territory is managed by the
private sector and 50 % of its sanitation. This proportion operates from the local to the
international level. Big boxes dating from the XIX th century are actresses in the
development of a water market. Véolia started by causing the waste of the industry to be
sorted by the victims of the first pollution, then it was oriented towards the control of
the water for the industries, then the individuals.
If involvement at the lowest level of the territory remains a priority for such groups (eg
in the EPCI), their goal is international. In this register Véolia and Suez founded in
1990 one of these think tanks named French Water Circle (CFE) which boasts of having
weighed well in all the laws issued since 1992 . In that year, he interfered with the
Earth Summit in Rio in order to infuse the vision of an environmentally responsible world
thanks to their " accompanying industrial expansion ". Veolia becomes international,
then the world leader in water. Currently, the CFE's propaganda is oriented towards the "
circular " economy ,
" Small " firms, for their part, focus their efforts on innovation, without neglecting
the local presence by crumbling all the institutions (the base). Sogédo is a pioneer of
electronic water meters. After the replacement of the maintenance personnel by sensors
(fixed costs), no decrease in consumption or loss is observed on the networks.
Additionally, adherence to the Sigfox low-frequency network contributes to saturation of
the wireless network, which is a source of various diseases. But what benefits the profit ...
The public-private partnership in France (which is regarded as a global model) is based on
public ownership of networks (with maintenance costs) and private exploitation of
networks. But faced with the management, at least unequal and costly, of the private
sector, we saw a wave of remunicipalisation in recent years as in Paris or Grenoble. The
big groups, inspired by a decree, were afraid of losing their business, so that the
private sector no longer had to transmit its data until six months before the decision was
made to change, hindering its possibility. Moreover, when a service has been delegated for
years it is the management competence that is lost. This gives rise to unbelievable
compromises, the town councils wanting to keep the networks, and delegate the rest in
hopes of acquiring competence.
 Maptam law: Modernization of territorial public action and assertion of metropolises.
 See the blog waterglacees.com
 See Alternativelibertaire.org, " The circular economy washes greener "
 For a documentary night, see the movie Water makes money.
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