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24, chemin de Borde Rouge -Auzeville - CS52627 31326 Castanet Tolosan cedex - France

Last update: May 2021

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AGADAPT - Adapting the water use by the agriculture sector

CRAU aquifer Area

The Crau area is defined as the area above the Crau Aquifer which limits are given in Figure 1. The surface covers 543 km².The area is almost flat with small slope from the north-east edge (100 m) and the south west (sea level). The area is surrounded by several cities of about 40000 to 50000 inhabitants (Arles, salon de Provence and Istres).

The identified key water related issues on the Crau Aquifer Area are :

  • To preserve the irrigation using surface water and irrigation channel network. It is a key factor for the landscape aesthetic and ‘foin de Crau’ production. This requires identifying water needs by the agriculture sector and defining trade-off with other activity sectors that take profit of the Durance River hydraulic infrastructures. In the past decade, additional amounts of water were bought to the energy sector to maintain hay production during severe droughts. These events have clearly shown the need to adjust offer and demand under climate variability and future climate trends.
  •   to maintain the CRAU aquifer which is a key source of water on the area. The aquifer level depends strongly on the Durance water dotation for the agriculture in the area


  • To maintain hay production leading to a high quality forage which is recognized worldwide


  • The maintenance cost of the irrigation channel networks is mainly under the responsibility of agriculture sectors that met increasing difficulties to cover the costs. Initiatives as the “contrat de canal” aim at better identify positive externalities for other activity sector as the use of aquifer which is sustain by irrigation. An objective assessment of the role of irrigation on groundwater recharge is then necessary

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