Editorial : water, a resource to be conserved and shared
With a predicted 9 billion inhabitants on Earth by 2050, the demand for water for agricultural, domestic and energy use is set to increase, raising acute management problems. In the medium term, the expected scale of climate change will have a very significant impact on the seasonal distribution of water resources. On the issue of irrigated farming, this poses new questions with respect to the demand for agricultural water, resources used (wastewater, groundwater), irrigation techniques, transport in the water networks and dam management. In the urban areas, clean water services
are facing new challenges: water transport infrastructures are ageing (on average in France, 25% of clean water is lost in the soil), new pollutants are emerging and citizen consumers are keen to be more involved in water management. At the regional level, these agricultural and urban issues intersect and are leading to new intersectoral approaches.
In an attempt to provide some responses to these critical issues, the research topic GEUSI (Management of water, uses, services and infrastructures) brings together and builds synergies between four crosscutting areas recycling of wastewater to diversify the resource: stewardship and management of water-related infrastructures; public policies and management of water-related services and risks; optimization of water management in the urban water and irrigation infrastructures. Its research mobilizes a large number of disciplines in the sphere of physical and life sciences (hydraulics, fluid mechanics and agronomy) and in human and social sciences (economics, management sciences, geography, sociology and political sciences).
The ambition of Irstea is to strengthen its partnership with the public and private water management agencies in France; with this in view, the research topic is designed to produce software, methodology guides and patents and is fully committed to an approach incorporating the incubation of start-ups. In Montpellier, scientists are participating in the work being done by the new Montpellier Institute for water and the environment (IM2E), situated close to the global Competitiveness centre on water and to the water sector business incubator, Swelia (water companies’ network). The expert knowledge that Irstea brings to the irrigation sector is also exported internationally through the French association for water, irrigation and drainage (AFEID).