Water & Climate – Le Gard facing climate challenges: “We must act to avoid suffering” – News – Nîmes

Water & Climate – Le Gard facing climate challenges: “We must act to avoid suffering” – News – Nîmes
Water & Climate – Le Gard facing climate challenges: “We must act to avoid suffering” – News – Nîmes

As part of a joint initiative between BRL Ingénierie and Hydrofis, commissioned by the Department of Gard, an exhaustive study was carried out to assess the repercussions of climate change on water resources. The conclusions are clear: there is an urgent need to act. However, instead of giving in to discouragement, policymakers are adopting a proactive approach, focusing on resilience as the main response to climate challenges. Decryption.

The Gard is a land of climatic contrasts, faced with summer water shortages leading to restrictions on use and potential tensions, while remaining vulnerable to extreme climatic events, notably dramatic floods. Faced with these challenges, the Departmental Council launched the Water & Climate initiative, highlighting its essential role in the development of a global and concerted strategy for the sustainable management of water in a context of accelerated climate change.

Water & Climate: a response to climate change

The exceptional drought of 2017 was the real trigger for the Water & Climate approach. This project is in line with the structuring initiatives of the Departmental Council, aiming to support territories towards ambitious, sustainable and equitable adaptation. “The Department has always been present on issues of water resources, sanitation and regional planning for decades,” assures Olivier Gaillard, vice-president of the Departmental Council for Regional Planning.

“Anticipate so as not to suffer”

In partnership with BRL Ingénierie, Hydrofis, Météo-France, and with the financial support of the State, the Occitanie Region and the Water Agency, an exhaustive study was carried out, dividing the department into four distinct territories : Cévennes, Garrigue and Plains, Rhodanian Belt and Camargue.

This year, the initiative enters a consultation phase, inviting elected officials, associations and citizens to prepare the department for future challenges. Seven territorial meetings are scheduled between June 10 and 27. “The objective is to anticipate so as not to suffer,” says Bérengère Noguier, Deputy Vice-President for Ecological Transition and Biodiversity. The first meeting will be held on June 10 at the departmental archives of Nîmes from 6 p.m. Dates of upcoming meetings are available on the official website of the department.

An Andalusian climate in the Gard in 2050

“In the Gard, the climate in 2050 would be equivalent to that of current Andalusia. In 2100, temperatures could increase by 4°C, making the Gard landscapes similar to those of Tunisia,” warns Bérengère Noguier. Since 1959, the average annual temperature in the department has already increased by 1.7°C. To compensate for this rise, each year, it would be necessary to provide the water equivalent of 15 Olympic swimming pools for an average farm of 24 hectares.

140,000 additional inhabitants by 2050

Population growth in Gard is undeniable, with a projection of 140,000 additional inhabitants by 2050, requiring an additional 11 million cubic meters of water.

Manage the inevitable and avoid the unmanageable

To save this resource, researchers recommend a 5% reduction in individual drinking water consumption. “Reversing the trend is no longer possible. We must manage the inevitable and avoid the unmanageable,” explains Bérengère Noguier.

Agriculture greatly impacted by climate change

In 2019, around 20% of the Useful Agricultural Area (UAA) of Gard is irrigated, mainly by the Rhône via the Regional Hydraulic Network (RHR). These surfaces are mainly located in the Rhodanian belt. With climate change, the water requirements of already irrigated crops could increase by 20% by 2050, posing serious challenges for obtaining new resources outside of areas irrigated by the RHR.

“Today, all stakeholders must take ownership of this issue,” insists Olivier Gaillard. The Water & Climate approach aims to bring together all stakeholders around the table to develop a common strategy for adaptation to climate change, in order to prepare Gard for the major challenges that lie ahead.

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