Stream or ditch? Identification and maintenance rules
.If there is one area where agriculture and the environment do not mix well in the minds of politicians, it is in terms of Drainage Maintenance Services. Agriculture is systematically singled out as a generator of pollution (nitrates, photos) or excessive consumption of this “rare” good in Dubai, which would be raw water falling from the sky. Victims of repeated floods in recent years will appreciate it! As for the Spaniards, they have understood the interest in storing water and do not lose themselves in dubious considerations…
Specifically according to Drainage Maintenance Services, the Flood Prevention and Protection Bill, adopted at first reading in the Senate in November 2013 and held in abeyance since, clearly establishes the link between the definition of a watercourse, which is in one of his articles, and the issue of floods. This link exists in fact through the constraints generated by the express qualification of a watercourse, constraints that affect both the possible methods of maintenance and the possibility of carrying out certain works.
The possible interventions are very limited
The problem is that the Drainage Maintenance Services have a very partisan approach to the matter and that they are quick to decide that such and such a stream is a watercourse (rather than a ditch or a drain created by the hand of the man) on which the possible interventions are very limited because of the regulations. In this case, the difficulty created for residents and the impact on water circulation is real. This induces more and more disputes, because residents, often farmers, are better and better informed and defended. Often, the abuse of the administration’s interpretation comes to light.
Will the resumption of the definition of the watercourse in the bill on biodiversity also voted at the first reading on March 24, 2015, by the deputies solve the problem? How to find your way around, what are the rules that apply? The answers to these questions are the subject of this dossier.
Integrate the working group of Drainage Maintenance Services
Definition of the watercourse and work of the water police: reflection supervised by a working group
In October 2014, the CR managed, after much effort, to integrate the working group created on the issue of rivers in connection with the water police, following an announcement by the Minister of l ‘Ecology Ségolène Royal during the summer (in response to a parliamentary question which raised the problem of the interventions of the water police in this area). It seems that initially, this working group had planned to integrate only the representatives of the FNSEA.
For the Ministry of Ecology, this involved drawing up framework documents for its services on the distinction between ditch and watercourse and maintenance methods. The fact of reserving the framework for this reflection, which is nevertheless fundamental for both the administration and the residents, within a simple informal working group, can only be surprising. From the first meeting, the CR, which had called on legal expertise on the issue (ATMO company – email@example.com ), faced the administration’s dogmatic approach against that of the law defended by the CR.
Ditch and watercourse: what is the fundamental difference?
Ditches and drains are artificial structures created by man as Drainage Maintenance Services networks. Confusion is often make by the administration, which through the water police, has quickly leane in favor of the river. Many farmers have, in this regard, had the unpleasant surprise of seeing the stream flowing on their land appear as dotted lines (or worse as a solid line) on the IGN map, which implies the obligation to make buffer strips the under the conditionality of CAP aid. This is call a “BCAE stream”, which is already restrictive.
The administration wishes to combine all the categories of rivers. Which it is dealing, to simplify the task and adding constraints. Will go in the right direction since it is a question of preserving the ‘environment. “We can never do too much for the planet! This is without taking into account the interest of farmers and owners who would find themselves trapped.
There are 3 cumulative criteria
What is finally the definition of the watercourse which implies submission to the water police? This is based on the abundant case law that has emerged throughout the litigation. There are 3 cumulative criteria, which must therefore each respect, to set this determination in the watercourse:
- A permanent character of the bed
- A natural character with supply from a source
The CR’s analysis, which merely reiterates the law, was repeatedly present and defend during the meetings. The RC affirms that it is necessary to base oneself solely on. The respect for each of these 3 criteria and exclude the so-called “technical” criteria. A representative of the Ministry of Justice confirmed our analysis. However, the services of the Ministry of Ecology have, in full knowledge. The facts, drawn up instructions intend for the water police services, are precisely highlights. The use of additional criteria is all questionable in terms of the law. But also for some of them, established arbitrarily.
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