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In the Deux-Sèvres, a demonstration of anti-basins under high tension


Thousands of opponents of water retention are expected this Saturday. 3200 soldiers and police will be deployed.

Anti-bass activists hope to bring together

“20,000 demonstrators”

on Saturday in Deux-Sèvres, during a day of action that smells of sulfur in view of the extremely tense social context


The irrigators call for calm and will remain

“in (their) farms”

to ensure the protection of their property.

In the department, "the water war" will also be played out in the field of images throughout the weekend.

Opponents of water reserves intended for intensive irrigation of crops are organizing a new demonstration - banned by the State - at the gates of Niort and the Marais poitevin, at the call of the collective Bassines non merci (BNM), Uprisings of land and the trade union of the Confédération paysanne.

Their stated goal?

Reach the Mauzé-sur-le-Mignon structure - already in service - and that of Sainte-Soline, currently under construction.

Read alsoIn Sainte-Soline, in the Deux-Sèvres, the concern of the inhabitants in the face of the “water war”

Already targeted on October 29, this “mega-basin” had been the scene of violent clashes with the police.

This time, more than 3,200 soldiers and police will be deployed in the area, confirmed Emmanuelle Dubée, the prefect of Deux-Sèvres, on Friday, referring to the presence of “

opponents trained in violence”


On the sidelines of the European summit in Brussels, Emmanuel Macron also spoke of

"extraordinarily violent and equipped militants"


"totally disproportionate attacks"

targeting the police last fall.

“We will not give in to this violence.

In a democracy, we have no right to violence

,” he said.

The anti-bassines, they intend to demonstrate and target works that have become in their eyes one of the symbols of "agribusiness".

In a decade, the department of Deux-Sèvres has thus become the epicenter of the protest against “the privatization of water”.

The reason?

A project of 16 water substitution reserves - their official name - crystallizes all the tensions there.

Led by the Coop de l'eau 79, these works should benefit nearly 200 farms.

Ultimately, they will make it possible to store 6.2 million m3 of water drawn from the groundwater in winter.

In summer, 5.5 million m3 will also continue to be withdrawn by these same irrigators.

The cost of these reserves - 70% financed by public money - was initially estimated at 60 million euros.

It would now exceed 76 million,

“collective water management”


The crises linked to the lack of water have generated here an awareness

Jean-Jacques Guillet, former mayor of Amuré and member of the Bassines non merci collective

This idea began to germinate in the minds of farmers after the severe droughts of 2003 and 2005.

“A turning point

,” assures Thierry Boudaud.

The first reflections then lead to the creation, in 2011, of the Coop de l'eau and a project of 19 reserves built on the Sèvre Niortaise and the Mignon.

At the same time, the neighboring Vendée inaugurated its first basins.

But in the former Poitou-Charentes region, political obstacles quickly limit access to public funding.

It was thus necessary to wait until 2017 for everything to accelerate and for a public inquiry to validate the project despite nearly 500 unfavorable contributions.

That summer, the first opponents founded the BNM collective, then gathered in Amuré - where a structure was to be built - 1,500 demonstrators.

“When you have 10 euros, you can't spend 20: it's the same with water.

The crises linked to the lack of water have generated an awareness here

,” says Jean-Jacques Guillet, the former mayor of this village and early opponent.

Irrigators and the Deux-Sèvres Chamber of Agriculture led by the FNSEA have always defended these reserves to

"preserve the agricultural tool"


"from the perspective of climate change"

and to

"achieve the food sovereignty of here 2050”


Under the aegis of the Deux-Sèvres prefecture and under police protection, a “memorandum of understanding” ended up being signed in Niort, in 2018. The method was then intended to be “


in France

: it associated the main local authorities , farmers and environmental associations.

The project goes from 19 to 16 reserves and imposes a whole series of measures on the 450 irrigators of the cooperative.

Read alsoThe “basins”, an issue of conflicts between agricultures

To access water, they will have to - among other things - carry out a diagnosis of their farms and their practices, use fewer pesticides, plant hedges or create spawning grounds in rivers.

“Such a commitment from the agricultural world to changes in practices had never taken place.

What we write there is the meaning of history

,” said Thierry Boudaud at the time.

MP for Deux-Sèvres and president of the Génération Écologie party, Delphine Batho also signed this protocol then perceived as

“a stage, a beginning”

so that

“the agricultural world proves its desire to change”


She has since changed her mind:

“Protocol is dead.”

The chosen one asks

"the immediate stoppage of work" and a "local referendum to decide on the future of the basins"


Researcher at the CNRS, Vincent Bretagnolle is, meanwhile,


about the slowness of the expected transformations.

He sits on the Scientific and Technical Committee (CST) created in 2018 to assess the measures of the memorandum of understanding.

"Farmers are committed to reducing phytosanitary products by 50% by 2025. But, among the forty beneficiaries of the first reserves of Mauzé and Sainte-Soline, only two or three farmers have really started this process",

underlines- he.

In other words: the other members of the Water Coop will have to reduce their use of pesticides even more drastically to achieve this initial objective.

“We are moving slower than expected, but there is a real awareness”

, pleads Thierry Boudaud, who does not intend to abandon this protocol:

“What do we do instead?


In the former Poitou-Charentes region, the vast majority of the 93 planned "mega-basins" are the subject of litigation by environmental associations.

Source: lefigaro

All news articles on 2023-03-24

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