This project is funded by
the European Union

Case study: Reducing Consumption of Drinking Water: Implementation and Evaluation of Integrated Measures in Gironde (France)

project information

The Life + MAC Eau is an experimental European project which aims to protect water resources by controlling consumption and reducing leakage in the region of Gironde, France. It proposes innovative solutions in order to preserve the groundwater and encourages the households and local authorities reduce their water consumption.


The main objective of MAC Eau is to preserve the water resources of the deep aquifer by reducing extraction destined mainly for drinking water supply. Its specific objectives are: • To identify the most appropriate strategy to assist public bodies and develop decision guidelines for public authorities. • To raise awareness of water savings among the Gironde population and encourage public bodies to take ownership of their assets by the monitoring and follow-up of their buildings and facilities. • To act and experiment with different means of intervention and through their analysis, improve knowledge and transmit these results to other regions. The project implemented through: • Measuring the water savings obtained in order to assess the impact of actions on consumption, extraction and the aquifer level, • Estimating an average cost of water-saving actions in order to gauge their cost effectiveness and develop decision guidelines for public authorities, • Suggesting a method in order to transfer the experiment to other regions, • Raising awareness among the population, in particular the younger generations, and public bodies of water saving, consumption management and control and the protection of water resources. • Improving knowledge of consumption and uses Specifically, the following actions were implemented: • The distribution of 80,000 water-saving kits throughout the Gironde area. • The installation of water-saving equipment in 108 public buildings and facilities. • The installation of 70 rainwater tanks in individual households and public buildings. • The installation of 6 pressure modulators on the water supply network in the Blaye area. • Raising awareness on water-saving practices (these actions are not detailed in this report).

Policy context

Directive 2000/60 – Water Framework Directive

environmental impacts

- The distribution of water-saving kits led to a reduction of at least 12% in drinking water consumption per household per year, in other words, a saving of 700,000 to 800,000m3 per year. - The installation of pressure modulators helped to save almost 90,000m3 per year and to improve service by increasing the technical expertise of the water authority on the knowledge and monitoring of its network. Therefore, the project enables a saving of at least 800,000 TO 900,000m3 of water per year, and thus offsets the additional needs of new arrivals in Gironde.

socioeconomic impacts

From the user’s point of view, each action can have a direct or indirect benefit: • By accepting a free kit, their consumption, and consequently their water bill, are reduced, by 10% to 30% depending on the level of consumption, and their degree, before distribution, of water-saving practices, • With the pressure modulators, their consumption is automatically reduced due to the decrease in pressure, • With rainwater collectors, their consumption is also reduced, but to a lesser extent. For the water supply services, the impact of the MAC Eau project resulted in lower revenue due to reduced consumption, in addition to lower running costs linked to the induced reduction in extraction.

key lessons

1. In order to improve the effectiveness of distribution of kits, a number of points appear important: • Locally adapted communication Communication to inform the public of the distribution must be adapted to the local area. Simple means of communication (posters and flyers) may be sufficient in smaller municipalities, whereas a broader communication campaign needs to be put in place for larger communities, along with global communication across the department. The effectiveness of local press in transmitting information is worth noting. • Simplification of the distribution In order to facilitate the task for public bodies, distribution must be simplified, in particular by distributing a simple kit, without specific adaptation to household amenities. The basic kit could consist of two shower flow regulators and three tap-insert aerators. This would increase the cost of distribution but would allow residents of basic housing to have spare equipment. Requiring residents to complete a form is only necessary if downstream analysis is planned. • Distribution closer to residents Higher distribution rates were observed in small localities, where the town hall has closer links with residents. Collection points should therefore by multiplied in urban areas to improve distribution (community centres and district town hall offices). Distribution is also more effective under a qualified person who can provide information to residents. 2. With regards to the installation of pressure modulators the following points can be drawn: • Improved automation of the system (steering, monitoring and operation) and enhanced network knowledge is needed. • Group upstream all operations is important in order to improve service and locate leakage more rapidly. • Monitoring and management of data and equipment is important. • During the grouping survey and study phase, the necessity for grouping and pressure modulation/regulation must be considered in terms of the harmonisation of equipment and the reduction of costs (works and operation). 3. As far as the water-saving equipment in public buildings it was derived that: • The installation of water-saving equipment must be accompanied by training in maintenance and a commitment to replace it. • Considerable human resources are required to monitor consumption and must adhere to a regular schedule. • The municipal authorities set an example for the public on the practices to adopt. 4. Rainwater collection has a real impact on consumption by changing uses and creating a reflex of using rainwater for outdoor and acceptable indoor needs. In order to have a significant impact on consumption, rainwater collection must be considered in the design phase of a building so as to integrate it in an indoor (toilets) and outdoor water network. Design must be taken into consideration and must provide simple solutions, in particular for maintenance.

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