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Water mega-basins in the Deux-Sèvres county, France

The French state wants to build several water retention basins to favour irrigation for intensive farming. Local collectives join in order to prevent the construction of the basins.


The mega-basins controversy has its origins in the French government's launch of a water retention basins’ policy in 2017. This policy was immediately challenged by activist collectives, which gathered under the banner of the Bassines Non Merci (Basins No Thanks, BNM) collective. BNM launched its Facebook page in October 2017 [3]. The rationale given by government officials for the basins policy was that these basins would serve to capture rainwater and hold it in 'hilly' holds, thus giving farmers enough water for summer crops, especially corn crops, which cover 81 percent of irrigated land. Since October 2017, BNM has been opposing the Coopérative de l'eau des Deux-Sèvres (Dex-Sèvres Water Cooperative) plan to build 19 basins on one slope of the Sèvre River (the one near the town of Niort) with a combined 8.6 million cubic meters of water and about 18 hectares each [1]. A series of demonstrations centered on this issue have taken place since. For example, on 21 October 2017, BNM activists interrupted a speech by the president of the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region during the national forum of social and solidarity economy in Niort; on 11 November, a festive demonstration took place in Amuré, Deux-Sèvre County, in which a human chain of 1,500 people was created [2]. Among other things, the federation organized political meetings for militants, where documentaries on intensive agriculture were shown and protest strategies to be followed were discussed. Protest actions continued in the following months and years in various forms.

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Water mega-basins in the Deux-Sèvres county, France
State or province:Deux-Sèvres, Nouvelle-Aquitaine
Location of conflict:Mauzé-sur-le-Mignon
Accuracy of locationMEDIUM (Regional level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Water Management
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Dams and water distribution conflicts
Specific commodities:Water
Project Details and Actors
Project details

The Coopérative de l'eau des Deux-Sèvres (Dex-Sèvres Water Cooperative) wanted to dig 19 - later brought down to 16 - water retention basins in the Deux-Sèvres (13), Charente-Maritime (2) and Vanne (1) counties.

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Project area:100
Level of Investment for the conflictive project63,000,000
Type of populationRural
Affected Population:374,873 (Deux-Sèvres department population)
Start of the conflict:10/2017
Company names or state enterprises:Charpentier TP from France - Project developer
Coopérative de drainage et d’aménagement foncier (CODAF) from France - Project developer
BHD Environnement from France - Project developer
Guintoli from France - Project developer
Sogea Ouest TP from France - Project developer
Colas TP from France - Project developer
Garandeau Matériaux from France - Project developer
Société coopérative anonyme de l'eau des Deux-Sèvres from France - Project developer
Relevant government actors:National government
Deux-Sèvres county government
International and Finance InstitutionsFrench State
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Bassines Non Merci,
Soulèvements de la Terre,
France Nature Environnement,
Confédération Paysanne,
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityHIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
Reaction stageIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups mobilizing:Farmers
Local ejos
Social movements
Trade unions
Local scientists/professionals
Fisher people
Forms of mobilization:Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Development of a network/collective action
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Land occupation
Media based activism/alternative media
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches
Property damage/arson
Environmental ImpactsPotential: Global warming, Noise pollution, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity)
Health ImpactsPotential: Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide
Socio-economical ImpactsPotential: Loss of landscape/sense of place, Loss of livelihood, Land dispossession
Project StatusUnder construction
Conflict outcome / response:Criminalization of activists
Court decision (victory for environmental justice)
Strengthening of participation
Violent targeting of activists
Plans for the construction of some basins have been droped, others continue ahead.
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Not Sure
Briefly explain:The construction of five basins was declared illegal and their filling was stopped by the Council of State, but the one in Mauzé-sur-le-Mignon - one of those that made the object of the Council's decision - was filled anyhow by February 2023. Five activists were sentenced to between two and three months in prison, suspended, following the protest of October 2022; the protest leader was placed under judicial surveillance in March 2023. 11 basins are still planned, so this is a conditional success.
Sources & Materials
References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

[24] BRGM, « Simulation du projet 2021 de réserves de substitution de la Coopérative de l’eau des Deu-Sèvres – Rapport final », 17 June 2022
[click to view]

[1] Baptiste Giraud, “Bataille pour l’eau entre agriculteurs « irrigants » et défenseurs du Marais poitevin”, Reporterre, 21 December 2017
[click to view]

[2] Xavier Le Roux, « Amuré : chaîne humaine de 1.500 personnes contre les bassines », La Nouvelle République, 11 November 2017
[click to view]

[4] « En France, deux tiers des nappes phréatiques sont à un niveau inhabituellement bas », Le Monde, 17 January 2018
[click to view]

[5] Poitou-Charentes Nature, « Annulation d'un arrêté préfectoral nuisible pour la nature et l'environnement », n.d.
[click to view]

[6] “La bataille de l’eau se durcit dans les Deux-Sèvres”, Le Monde, 5 March 2018
[click to view]

[7] EG, “Marais Poitevin : un millier de manifestants contre les bassines à La Garette”, France 3 Régions, 3 June 2018
[click to view]

[8] Valérie Prétot, « Deux-Sèvres : 1.200 anti-bassines ont manifesté ce dimanche à Niort », France 3 Régions, 12 November 2018
[click to view]

[9] Valérie Prétot, « Retenues d'eau sur la Sèvre niortaise : un protocole d'accord a été conclu pour la construction de 16 bassines », France 3 Régions, 20 November 2018
[click to view]

[10] Laure Ménard, « Marais Poitevin : les bassines au cœur d’une "ultime bataille" entre irrigants et écolos », Sud Ouest, 11 October 2020
[click to view]

[11] Julien Renon, « Deux-Sèvres. Coup de force des anti-bassines à Mauzé : trois blessés chez les forces de l’ordre », Ouest France, 22 September 2021
[click to view]

[12] Laury-Anne Cholez, « Mégabassines : bataille contre le « hold-up sur l’eau » de l’agriculture intensive », Reporterre, 24 September 2021
[click to view]

[13] Laury-Anne Cholez, « Mégabassines : la guerre de l’eau continue dans le Marais poitevin », Reporterre, 5 November 2021
[click to view]

[14] « Manifestation anti-bassines près de Niort : trois gendarmes blessés et une retenue d’eau saccagée », Ouest France, 6 November 2021
[click to view]

[15] Yoel Jäger and Corentin Fohlen, « Contre l’agro-industrie, écolos et paysans endommagent une mégabassine », Reporterre, 8 November 2021
[click to view]

[16] Lorène Lavocat, « En Charente-Maritime, des mégabassines construites illégalement », Reporterre, 10 November 2021
[click to view]

[17] Lorène Lavocat, « La police a espionné les opposants aux mégabassines », Reporterre, 22 March 2022
[click to view]

[18] Héloïse Leussier and Quentin Vernault, « « Tout le monde déteste les bassines » : dans les Deux-Sèvres, une grande manifestation pour protéger l’eau », Reporterre, 28 March 2022
[click to view]

[19] Marius Jouanny, « À Sainte-Soline, des milliers de manifestants refusent les mégabassines », Reporterre, 31 October 2022
[click to view]

[20] Laury-Anne Cholez and Yoan Jäger, « Mégabassines : ‘Une parodie de procès’, selon les opposants », Reporterre, 29 November 2022
[click to view]

[21] Laury-Anne Cholez, « Contre les mégabassines, ‘nous sommes condamnés à agir’ », Reporterre, 7 January 2023
[click to view]

[22] « Mégabassines : une figure des opposants espionnée par la police », Reporterre, 27 January 2023
[click to view]

[23] Léa Dang, « ‘Non aux bassines’ : en Île-de-France, la guerre de l’eau commence », Reporterre, 30 January 2023
[click to view]

[25] « Cinq mégabassines interdites en Charente-Maritime », Reporterre, 6 February 2023
[click to view]

[26] « Deux-Sèvres : la « bassine » de Mauzé-sur-le-Mignon remplie à 100 % en deux mois », La Nouvelle République, 17 February 2023
[click to view]

[27] Lionel Gonzalez-Renois, « La préfecture des Deux-Sèvres interdit toute manifestation et rassemblement organisés par le collectif Bassines Non Merci ! les 24-25 et 26 mars », France 3 Régions, 17 March 2023
[click to view]

[28] « Mégabassines : l’État veut museler la contestation », Reporterre, 16 March 2023
[click to view]

[29] « Mégabassines : Julien Le Guet déféré après sa garde à vue », Reporterre, 17 March 2023
[click to view]

[30] Sophie Gouz, Maïté Koda, Caroline Hubert, Morgane Jacob, and Lionel Gonzalez-Renois, “Rassemblement anti-bassines : les organisateurs annoncent 30 000 participants, des dizaines de manifestants et de gendarmes blesses”, France 3 Régions, 25 March 2023
[click to view]

[31] Laury-Anne Cholez and Caroline Delboy (photos), “Contre les mégabassines, une mobilisation massive et fortement réprimée”, Reporterre, 26 March 2023
[click to view]

[32] Baptiste Decharme, “Anti-bassines à Sainte-Soline : le pronostic vital d'un homme de 30 ans toujours engagé”, La Nouvelle République, 26 March 2023
[click to view]

[36] Hélène Echasseriayu, "Deux-Sèvres : la première 'bassine' contestée commence à se remplir à Mauzé-sur-le-Mignon", La Nouvelle République, 29 December 2021
[click to view]

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

[3] Bassines Non Merci, Facebook page
[click to view]

[33] Les soulèvements de la Terre, Facebook page
[click to view]

[34] Les anti-bassines plongent dans la Sèvre à La Garette, 03/06/2018
[click to view]

[35] Réserves d’eau pour l’irrigation : les opposants au projet rassemblés à Mauze-sur-le-Mignon, 04/03/2018.
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:Roberto Cantoni, ICTA-UAB, [email protected]
Last update20/03/2023
Conflict ID:6310
Legal notice / Aviso legal
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