Water, a common good to be conserved and used wisely

EDF manages 75% of the surface water of France in its dams and reservoirs. The Group works with local stakeholders to share this resource and use it wisely. It is also involved in long-term conservation, against the backdrop of global warming.

EDF, a participant in the shared use of water

EDF currently stores 7.5 billion cubic metres of water in its reservoirs. Primarily used to supply its hydroelectric power plants, water resources also serve to cool fossil-fired and nuclear power plants, which return the water to the environment at a temperature close to that at which it was withdrawn. In addition to its use in EDF Group industrial activities, water is also shared and redistributed for several other uses:

  • drinking water for cities and towns
  • irrigation for agriculture
  • water sports

The availability of water varies according to weather conditions (snow cover, rain). Water management is shared in coordination with the various stakeholders, especially local authorities and France’s six river basin agencies

EDF releases 2 billion cubic metres of water every summer in the Hautes-Alpes department to supply lakes and rivers used by local tourism businesses.

EDF takes part in water management governing bodies and management institutions (catchment area committees, local water committees, and so on). This engagement, assessed during the most recent World Water Forum held in South Korea in April 2015, prepared a number of French goals for the COP21 climate conference in December 2015.

Discover the interactive map of south-west France. It can be used to access a great deal of information about water management, grouped under several themes.

An active participant in international negotiations and R&D

With its internationally respected expertise in hydroelectricity, EDF is an active partner in the World Water Forum, which has been held every three years since 1997. During the sixth conference, which took place in Marseille in 2012, the Group made three commitments on behalf of France:

  • Assess the impact of its activities on water so as to work with the scientific community to develop an appropriate measurement tool for the energy sector
  • Control and publish this water footprint
  • Create value (economic, environmental, etc.) in each region hosting a hydroelectricity generation project, from the outset of the design stage.

With global warming and changing patterns of water use increasingly disrupting water management, EDF R&D is also heavily involved in long-term water conservation efforts. EDF earmarks an annual budget of 2 million for research on this issue.

Researchers analyse marine weather events (waves, choppy seas, tides, etc.) to draw up models that can be used to predict extreme weather phenomena. In parallel, they carry out forward-looking studies on changes in water resources in areas such as the Durance and Verdon catchment basins as part of a project overseen by the French Ministry of Ecology and Sustainable Development.