French draft water law heads for parliament
The French environment ministry has asked the state council to advise on reworked proposals for a major overhaul of national water law before they are sent to parliament.The new water legislation is necessary because the situation in France "is not entirely satisfactory", as the government puts it carefully in the introduction to the bill.
The legislation has been in gestation since the centre-right government took power in June 2002 and quashed previous proposals that had included a controversial nitrate tax on farmers.
In a critical report published in 2003 the parliamentary office identified nitrates and phosphates from agriculture as one of the main sources of water pollution in France.
In large areas France doesn't meet EU water quality standards. Many lakes and rivers show high concentrations of pesticides, phosphates and nitrates and France has been condemned five times by the European court of justice for not implementing EU directives on nitrates, dangerous substances and urban wastewater treatment.
Other problems are diffuse pollution due to inadequate treatment of wastewater from isolated dwellings, and a backlog in equipping the whole country with approved drinking water pipes and sewage systems. Under the government's proposals municipalities and water agencies will get more funds and instruments to deal with these problems.
Republished with permission of Environment Daily