The "Water Convoy", which left Sainte-Soline to denounce the mega-basin projects, should arrive in Paris on Saturday August 26. The procession stopped in Orléans, where it called for a moratorium on water management.
[Updated August 25, 2023 5:57 PM] The Water Convoy, which brings together 800 cyclists and tractors, is in Orléans on Friday August 25. The demonstrators camped in front of the Water Agency to demand a moratorium on the mega-basins project. The procession is due to reach its final destination on Saturday August 26th. "The condition for breaking camp is a moratorium," said a representative of the Convoy, received by the prefect on Friday, reports La Nouvelle République. Most activists intend to stay in Orleans, in front of the Water Agency, until they have obtained satisfaction. "No basins in Sainte-Soline. The water war has begun and we will fight to win it", chanted the demonstrators in front of the Water Agency. The delegation was received by the prefect of Loiret, Sophie Brocas, which could be a turning point for the future of mega-basins. The convoy has moved since August 18 without major incident.
A few days earlier, the Vienne prefecture had broadcast on X, formerly Twitter, four photos of the degraded Beaumont-Saint-Cyr golf green. According to the authorities, about 40 people broke into this area to damage the irrigation system and a playground. The organizers of the "Convoi de l'eau" denied any involvement on their part on Telegram: "This is an act of protest that was not planned and does not fall within the organization of the convoy." A logo of the Earth Uprisings has been drawn on the lawn while this movement has been in the sights of the government for many months.
This traveling demonstration was organized to denounce the use of mega-basins like that of Sainte-Soline where violent clashes broke out last March. An investigation was opened after this intrusion. According to the Huffingtonpost, "no arrests have been made, but some suspects have been identified with the support of a drone and complaints have been filed." In a press release, the "Water Convoy" acknowledged that "a few dozen people obviously wanted to go cool off at one of the watering points of the golf course located just next door" without confirming the participation of some of these members to acts of vandalism.
Almost five months after the heavy clashes in Sainte-Soline, activists opposed to the controversial mega-basins project left Lezay (Deux-Sèvres) on Friday August 18, 2023 for a traveling demonstration. At the initiative of the "Convoi de l'eau", we find the collective Bassines Non Merci! and the agricultural union Confédération paysanne, supported by various associations such as the Uprisings of the Earth, a major player in the struggle in Sainte-Soline. Between 500 and 700 cyclists and 20 tractors set off in this convoy, which provides an average of 50 to 60 kilometers per day.
The convoy will have to reach Orléans (Loiret) before ending its race in Paris for a "surprise finale" on Saturday August 26th. In total, nearly 700 cyclists and 20 to 30 tractors registered for the parade. Every day, the demonstrators will travel 50 to 60 kilometers.
This demonstration left on Friday August 18, 2023 at noon from Lezay (Deux-Sèvres) and must reach Orleans on August 25. 8 stops are planned before this destination. Finally, a rally is planned for the weekend of August 26 and 27 in Paris. The detailed program is available via this link. The finish on August 21 will be at the Belêtre peasant cooperative in Dolus-le-Sec (Indre-et-Loire). Then it will be in Lussault-sur-Loire (Indre-et-Loire) on the 22nd, in Lestiou (Loir-et-Cher) on the 23rd and Bou (Loiret) on the 24th. 'water' because of the importance of the procession. The prefecture of Indre-et-Loire recommended "to avoid, if possible, the sectors concerned by the passage of the procession, to take alternative routes and / or to favor trips at other times".
The convoy plans to travel 50 to 60 kilometers each day. The Orléans stage will be very symbolic since the exact destination is the Loire-Brittany regional water agency. According to Laurence Marandola, spokesperson for the Confédération paysanne, to Franceinfo: "The water agencies are masters of the territory's water policy. They are the very big financiers of works on water. They finance the mega-basins with 70% of the public money!"
Demonstrations around these types of projects have been violent on several occasions, notably in March 2023 in Sainte-Soline. The government dissolved the collective "Les Uprisings of the Earth", but the Council of State suspended this decision. The Vienne prefecture announced in a press release on Tuesday August 15 that it would use drones and aircraft to secure the route of the water convoy, which will cross the department from August 18 to 21.
The organizers wanted to leave near Sainte-Soline to "pay tribute to the wounded and mutilated by police grenades". According to BFMTV, the procession was "declared to the prefectures concerned". The collective "Les Uprisings of the Earth", behind the demonstrations in March 2023, will be present in the convoy, but without the role of organizer.