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WATER

French family lives 12 years without water over failure to pay €300 bill

A water company in France has been told to restore running water to a woman and her 10-year-old son after cutting her water supply for 12 years because she failed to cough up a €300 bill.

French family lives 12 years without water over failure to pay €300 bill
AFP
Can you imagine living without running water for over a decade?
 
For one woman, Danielle in the southern French city of Perpignan that became a reality after she failed to pay a €300 bill issued by water company, Saur back in 2005, according to French press reports.
 
And after 12 years of legal wrangling the company was finally told in January to restore the woman's water supply and pay €1,000 to the associations that fought on her behalf: human rights group France Libertés and water resource association Coordination Eau Île-de-France. 
 
“We felt devalued,” Danielle told the French press. 
 
Having no water “affects the image you have of yourself. You feel inferior to others.” 
 
Finding water “becomes an obsession, it's all you think about, you have to look for water every day, it's difficult,” she said.
 
“You have to heat water to wash. The worst is the toilet, you can't bring people home.”
 
France Libertés say the decision reinforces the basic right to water in France. 
 
“It reminds all operators that they have the obligation to provide water to all their users. The conflicts that they have with them does not legitimize an illegal water cut. “
 
Emmanuel Poilane, the director of France Libertés said that cutting water for 12 years “is to make life hell for a whole family.” 
 
READ ALSO: 
 

Millions living in rural France 'are drinking polluted tap water'

 
Practice abandoned
 
The cuts are ancient history, sais Saur's customer manager Christophe Piednoël.
 
“We do not cut [water] anymore, it's totally forbidden. It's a good thing that this is forbidden,” he said.
 
However, the conflict between Saur and Danielle isn't over yet.
 
The group has accused her of installing an illegal water connection on the network during the time her water was cut.
 
She has been sentenced to three months in prison for stealing water but has launched an appeal. 
 
 
 

WATER

Burgundy villagers left without running water for two years

For the past two years residents of a village in Burgundy have been given industrial levels of bottled water by their town hall as they're no longer able to drink their own running water.

Burgundy villagers left without running water for two years
Photo: AFP
It might sound unbelievable but this is how the villagers of Etais-la-Sauvin in Yonne have been living for almost two years. 
 
Located in north-central France the village's 840 inhabitants have been banned from using running water since October 2016 due to the pesticides used in local agriculture as well as the poor state of their pipes, according to Le Monde
 
This ban came in after the Regional Health Authority (ARS) revealed the presence of metazachlor, which is used to control a wide range of weeds in crops, ornamental trees and shrubs, in the water. 
 
This means that the residents of Etais-la-Sauvin are forced to wash, cook and drink the mineral water provided by the municipality, with 25,000 litres distributed in the village each month, according to La Croix.
 
Photo: François GOGLINS/Wikicommons
 
In fact, the patron of the only restaurant in the village has to dilute pastis in mineral water, make ice cubes with it and boil stew with it while the rest of inhabitants have had to rule out baths and instead only shower to waste less water, according to Le Monde. 
 
And it seems this pollution is inseparable from local agricultural activities, with one farmer in a neighbouring town singled out as having a significant impact on the water quality due to the size of his farm. 
 
But it isn't only farmers who are to blame.
 
The municipality of Etais-la-Sauvin, which, according to French press reports does not have the means to build a water treatment and purifcation unit, was forced to connect to a different one which already serves 27 towns and villages in the same area. 
 
However, this did not entirely solve the situation. 
 
Now, even though the water is fine to drink, the village's pipes are so old and damaged that large amounts of the clean water leaks out of them. 
 
Local newspaper Yonne Républicaine reports that as a result of this unusual situation, the village has earned the nickname 'bottled water central ' despite the fact that it isn't the only one in the area under a water ban.
 
Actually, the Regional Health Agency indicates that about fifteen municipalities are affected by water bans in the Yonne department.
 
But there may be a bright spot on the horizon for the villagers of Etais-la-Sauvin, with mayor, Claude Macchia, promising that new underground piping improvements will be carried out by 2019.
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