The construction of several mega-basins continues in Deux-Sèvres under close police surveillance, the “New York Times” reports. The issue of these water reservoirs still divides farmers and opponents, who continue their fight against the project.
MAUZÉ-SUR-LE-MIGNON, France – Bulletproof vests on their backs, weapons slung over their shoulders, the gendarmes suddenly appear in the middle of fields misted with morning rain. Stationed between two fences filled with cameras and projectors, they look like prison guards. Except there isn’t a prison for miles around.
They are here to secure a large perimeter meant to accommodate a gigantic tank. Welcome to the front line of the water war in France.
World leaders have just met for two weeks at COP27 in Egypt to discuss ways to mitigate the effects of climate change and the conflicts it spawns. But if the competition for water is more associated with the arid regions of the Middle East and Africa, Europe is not immune.
Water reservoirs in case of drought
After a violent summer that climatologists described as “postcard from the future”, With its share of record heat waves, forest fires and droughts that have dried up waterways, France is grappling with a growing war over who has priority in the use of water, water and how.
The French state has launched a program to build large replacement reservoirs across the country to serve farmers in increasingly dry spring and summer months.
Only here, where the State talks about“adaptation”, opponents are talking about“aberration” – they see in it a privatization of water that will benefit a handful of representatives of an outdated industrial agriculture.
Clashes between the two sides are escalating – perhaps a taste of the water wars that promise to intensify around the world as temperatures rise.
Thousands of activists opposed to the last basin under construction, in the New Aquitaine region, competed against about 1,600 gendarmes amid rapeseed fields and wheat stubble.
This normally picturesque landscape then took on the appearance of a dystopian novel – riot police officers, armored vehicles deploying tear gas canisters, billowing smoke and helicopters roaring in the sky.
Opponents then paraded two sections of water pipes they had just dug up and severed so they could not feed the basin – the latest act of sabotage in a long line and, in their eyes, an act of civil disobedience.
The Minister of the Interior, Gérald Darmanin, declared that their actions fell under“eco-terrorism”.
This corresponds to 288 Olympic swimming pools
“They are the eco-terrorists”, tackle Jean-Jacques Guillet, former mayor of three villages, as the diggers scratch the red earth at the site a few days later. “They are terrorizing the environment.”
“They sent 1,600 gendarmes to protect a hole filled with stones”, he adds, pointing to four armed gendarmes standing nearby.
There are hundreds of thousands of water reservoirs all over France that farmers have used for generations without it really being worth it.
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