Sunday, 6 September 2009

Water quality

There is a problem with water quality in this part of France. Because we are in an agricultural area, run-off of fertilisers and phytosanitary products from fields can pollute streams and rivers to levels exceeding EC norms.

So the Powers that Be have proposed a scheme to increase the rate of water flow in the local rivers, by removing all the dams that were put in place for the old mills. I've got to say I don't see myself how removing the dams flushes pollutants out of the way any faster. If the water level is constant, as much water flows into any section of river as flows out, whether there is a dam there or not.

This scheme has already been implemented in one local river, the Joanne, and people are not happy with the results. All the deep sections of river behind the dams have gone, leaving in place a shallow, narrow but fast-flowing stream. The fish population has reportedly plummeted, as has the population of wildlife they support.

A shallow section of the Erve, just downstream of some sluice gates.

A deeper section of the Erve, just upstream of the sluice gates.

The dam that would be removed.

So I signed a petition recently against the proposal to destroy the dams, and instead, simply open the sluice gates for a couple of years to see what happens. This will have pretty much the same effect on the river and water flow, but is easily reversed. Seems sensible to me: if people don't like the result or if it doesn't work, you can change back.

The bridge, cos it's pretty.

And some blackberries I picked on the way home from taking these photos. Yum!

And while we're on the subject, one of the people staying here during the flute course tells me he saw an otter and cubs down by the river, not far from where I took these pictures. I doubt if a reduced river would support much in the way of otter families.


Lia said...

Here we go more human madness against nature.
I guess some would argue that the dams are man made anyway, so the removal of them is just restoring them back to there natural state.
However it would seem in general that building the dams has done a lot for the surrounding natural area.

It must be a really healthy river to sustain an otter family, they are terribly fussy about where they place their holts and raise their young.

Is there any way that we could help by sining the petition as well. I would be happy to sign if that would help.

Much love,
Lia xx

Cogitator said...

Hi Lia, thnk you so much for your offer, but I doubt that your signing the petition would help, since you're not French resident. Thank you for the kind thought.

I will, however, keep you posted.

@eloh said...

I grew up in the "Bread Basket" of the world. One day the water was perfect...overnight, town after town had to stop using their wells and go to bottled water. All from the years and years of farming.

That was about 20 years ago...still no solution.

Cogitator said...

That's scary, @eloh

Jonathan said...

I guess the rot began when we started farming all those thousands of years ago. I doubt we could reduce the population back to hunter-gatherer levels but farming organically would certainly be a step in the right direction. At least it would address the cause of your pollution problem rather than the symptom.

Chris Lindsay said...

so awesome

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