With the ambition of supplying inhabitants with premium quality drinking water and preparing the wastewater system of the future, Crescent Marault, Chairman of the Communauté de l'Auxerrois (Greater Auxerre Authority) and Arnaud Bazire, CEO Water at SUEZ, today signed two new major utility contracts for water and wastewater, respectively for 20 years and five years. As with the community’s structural projects, the ambition of the Communauté de l’Auxerrois is illustrated by the AuxR Eau label, which represents high service in water service provision for all inhabitants of the region.
Major investments with the construction of two drinking water plants
"With water cuts set to become more frequent in France over the next few years, the councillors at Greater Auxerre have decided to provide all the residents of the Auxerre region with premium quality water that is available at all times. We are adopting a long-term strategy by innovating in our drinking water distribution and management system for the next 20 years,” comments Crescent Marault, Chairman of the Communauté de l’Auxerrois.
To meet this ambition, 98 million euros will be invested over the next 20 years by the Communauté de l'Auxerrois, and 42 million euros by SUEZ, making a total investment plan of 140 million euros.
SUEZ undertakes to guarantee access to high-quality water for the 70,000 inhabitants of the Communauté de l’Auxerrois through the construction of two new drinking water plants. With work scheduled to commence in 2025, both plants will be commissioned by the end of 2026.
These high ecological performance facilities will be equipped with innovative low-pressure reverse osmosis technology: a membrane filtration system that removes most of the undesirable mineral salts naturally present in drinking water (nitrates, sulphates and excess calcium), as well as most micropollutants (pesticides, medicine residues, etc.) and pathogenic viruses and bacteria. This innovative, and environmentally friendly process produces premium quality water with no chlorine taste and much less limescale, thereby improving the quality of life of the community's residents.
Conserving water and making it the pride of the community
At a time when preserving water is a priority, SUEZ, working alongside the local authority, wants to promote Auxerrois water as a natural and locally sourced foodstuff, and aims to obtain ISO 22000 certification (food safety management) by 2028.
The Communauté de l'Auxerrois and SUEZ are also embarking on an ambitious network renewal programme, with an efficiency rate target of 85% from 2031, compared with 75% at present. This should save 14 million cubic metres of water over the life of the contract, equivalent to 3 years' consumption across the community. Each year, the Communauté de l'Auxerrois will replace 1% of its water distribution network, almost double the national average. This represents €4 million worth of work each year, or €80 million over the next 20 years.
With this water of higher quality and better taste, SUEZ is supporting the local authority in its educational approach, in particular with a Maison de l'Eau project in Auxerre city centre. Here, the goal is to encourage people to adopt environmentally friendly practices, with a view to increasing the consumption of tap water and using less bottled water.
“We take great pride from being able to contribute to the ecological transition of this community by supporting the Communauté de l'Auxerrois in its water distribution and wastewater treatment projects. We have a clear commitment for the next twenty years: to deploy innovative and resilient solutions to provide the residents of the Auxerre region with access to high-quality, safe and environmentally friendly water, and optimise the performance of the network to conserve water resources more effectively,” explains Arnaud Bazire, CEO Water France at SUEZ.
Finally, SUEZ is committed to ensuring that by 2025, all residents will be able to benefit from remote meter reading, thanks to the installation of 35,000 new-generation meters that will enable them to track their usage in real time, benefit from accurate billing and access a range of new services, such as leak alerts.
Preparing the wastewater network of the future
SUEZ will support the Communauté de l’Auxerrois, which has been in charge of the entire region’s wastewater activities since 1 January 2020, in its desire to build a long-term wastewater blueprint.
Over the next five years, several upgrading projects will be conducted, and heightened network supervision will be deployed.
A sustainable commitment alongside local stakeholders
From 2023, all the sites operated by SUEZ under these contracts will be supplied with 100% renewable energy. Some sites will be equipped with solar panels installed on “trackers” made in Burgundy that follow the path of the sun to increase their efficiency and meet up to 25% of the water service's energy needs.
SUEZ has also made a commitment to vocational integration alongside two local partners, ID'EES 89 and Renouer, with more than 50,000 hours of work experience planned.