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Project to make wastewater fit for drinking in France

The Jourdain project in western France is the first of its kind in Europe, and could provide a solution to future droughts

After a record dry winter, France looks to increase its usage of wastewater in the face of another drought Pic: DedMityay / Shutterstock

A major project to transform wastewater into drinking water is expected to be up and running in France by the end of the year. 

The Jourdain programme, led by utility company Veolia in collaboration with public water authorities, claims to be the first of its kind in Europe. 

Treated wastewater from a plant in Sables d’Olonne (Vendée) will be recovered for further treatment instead of being released into the sea. 

This water will be transported to a dam, then discharged into a vegetated area and mixed with river water before slowly reaching the drinking water production plant. 

The results of the three-year experiment will be closely monitored by authorities, as treated wastewater can currently be reused only for irrigation or the watering of public green spaces. 

Read more: France allows local authorities to use wastewater after record drought

France gets less than 1% of its water this way, compared to 8% in Italy, and 14% in Spain. 

This past winter saw 25% less rainfall than average. 

Local authorities have been advised to implement water restrictions now to avoid critical shortages in the summer. 

Several departments have already done so – see restrictions in your area.

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