What is the current situation in Vittel?
The Lower Triassic Sandstone groundwater table is located in Lorraine, in the Vosges Mountains. The southwest sector of this water table is the main source of public and private water supply for the Vittel, Contrexéville, Bulgnéville and Mirecour territories. It is a region with a high level of human, economic and industrial activity.
While ¾ of Nestlé Waters production from Vittel area uses separate springs that do not present water recharge problems, our Vittel Bonne Source brand is drawn from this sector of the water table (28% of withdrawals from this aquifer).
Currently, withdrawals in this sector exceed the rainwater recharge capacity. Government services have evaluated this shortage at around 1 million m3 per year, leading to the possibility of certain boreholes in the Southwest sector drying up by 2050.
To address this situation, a local 45-member committee, the Local Water Commission (CLE), which includes Nestlé Waters, is working on the most sustainable solution to this issue. After studying several solutions put forward by government-affiliated engineers, a collective decision to preserve the sustainability of the resource was taken by the CLE on July 3 2018.
What was decided by the Local Commission of Water?
The decision handed down by the Local Water Commission (CLE) establishes the principle of a withdrawal transfer to catchment areas with no recharge issues and in a surplus situation, the objective being to reduce withdrawals in the GTI sector that is subject to deficit (South-West sector) as well as to secure the needs of drinkable water distribution.
The decision is collective and was approved by a large majority. The CLE is composed of 45 members representing the users, the regional and local authorities, NGOs, the water agencies and the French government. This decision is a major step towards resolving the issue of the sustainability of the GTI aquifer.
Following this decision, a public consultation is taking place. Nestlé Waters is participating to answer inhabitants’ questions.
How does Nestlé Waters contribute to the solution?
As a responsible user of water, we care about the sustainable management of this resource. For over 20 years, we have been working collectively and individually.
Concerning the costs of the solution decided by the CLE, Nestlé Waters committed during the CLE meeting to contribute to the financing of the substitution operations, the collective goal being to avoid any impact on the local citizens’ water bill. During the meeting, Nestlé Waters also restated its ambition to reduce its withdrawals from the GTI groundwater table to 750,000m3 per year. This represents a voluntary reduction of 25% on the quotas it is allotted and we intend to pursue our efforts in the years to come with a new reduction of 100 000m3 by 2020.
In parallel to these initiatives, in the months ahead, Nestlé Waters will implement an action plan to reduce its withdrawals from the GTI groundwater table even more significantly.
These activities are part of a shared, responsible water resource management policy that we have been conducting for 25 years in the Contrex and Vittel regions. In the last ten years, Nestlé Waters has reduced its own withdrawals by 20% by investing in ways to reuse water on the site, and by optimizing our industrial processes and installing new equipment.
Where quality is concerned, in 1992 we also launched the Agrivair program that has enabled us to protect and improve the quality of the water over an area spanning more than 10,000 hectares in the Vittel region. Agrivair has also enabled us to support local farmers in a “pesticide-free approach” and conduct large scale initiatives on local biodiversity.
Our business is conducted in close collaboration with all of the stakeholders, including elected officials, farmers, business operators, non-profits and private citizens. And this is the spirit in which we will continue to do business in Vittel and its greater area.
Couldn't the solution be to stop all withdrawals?
Nestlé Waters has a long-standing presence in the area and is a major economic player in the region. We play a daily role in the community through our Agrivair programme, which has enabled us to support local farmers in taking a pesticide-free approach and to implement large-scale local biodiversity initiatives. The whole territory benefits from this approach, which enhances the reputation of local water quality, in particular hydrotherapy or green tourism. The Vittel Bonne Source brand, which is drawn from the water table in question, is marketed mainly in neighbouring countries such as Germany and Switzerland. It also contributes to the influence and reputation of our region beyond our borders.