On the Place du Docteur Félix Lobligeois, under the shade of a row of lime trees, a green cast-iron Wallace fountain dispenses a Parisian grand cru - drinking water. These fountains adorned with Caryatids - statues of women dressed in a long tunic holding a dome - are the symbol of public water sources in Paris. Available to all (and free of charge) in more than 1200 locations - Wallace, Millennium, Totem and sparkling water fountains, drinking fountains and water points in public toilets - all offerhigh quality drinking water, produced and distributed by the municipal water authority Eau de Paris. It is the same water supply which is delivered to the buildings of Paris. Everyone can fill up their bottle, flask or water pouch with a healthy drink which can be consumed without restriction.Here, the water comes from the springs of the River Avre, processed in the Saint Cloud water treatment plant before being distributed.
The fountains were installed in large numbers at the initiative of Rambuteau, Prefect of the Seine department from 1833 to 1848. Influenced by the Hygienist theories of the day, he developed Paris' sewage network. He ordered the construction of a large number of fountains and created Paris' first public square near Notre-Dame. These new fountains made life easier for many Parisians, who until then had been obliged to buy their water from water bearers. However, the water distributed came mainly from the Seine and the Ourcq canal; it was not fit for drinking and caused many outbreaks of typhoid and cholera. Haussmann's decision to get water from springs located over 100km away from Paris to be sure it was drinkable played an instrumental role in improving the quality of the water distributed to Parisians. Nowadays, there are more than 1200 drinking water outlets in the capital. The most famous model among them is the celebrated Wallace fountain, a symbol of public water in Paris. Designed by Charles-Auguste-Lebourg and financed by the British philanthropist Richard Wallace, 40 of these distinctive fountains with their four caryatids - statues of women dressed in long tunics who serve as columns - were installed after the terrible water shortage that resulted from the siege of the Commune of Paris in 1870 and the siege of the capital during the 1879 War (between France and Prussia). Nowadays, there are around 130.
Rainwater dripping on buildings and streets is responsible for all kinds of pollutants such as hydrocarbons, heavy metals and floating waste. When sewer systems are saturated by excessive rainfall, runoff water is stored in tanks, awaiting processing by sewage treatment plants, however sometimes there are direct discharges into the Seine during violent storms. To filter this runoff, floating barriers are situated on the Seine and catch approximately 1,500 tons of waste every year! Since the 2000s, the systematic conveyance of all wastewater to sewage treatment plants has improved the river's water quality. Once choked with bacteria from wastewater discharged straight into the river, the Seine is now better oxygenated, encouraging the return of the fish. More than 30 species have been recorded, some of which are particularly delicate. Despite the improvement in the Seine's water quality, the consumption of fish remains prohibited as a result of contamination by PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls) which are by-products from industrial processes. PCBs have been banned in manufacturing and for use in France since 1987, but their low biodegradability explains why they still can be found in the environment. Transported over long distances, these compounds are found in the air, soil, water, and sediments, as well as being transmitted through the food chain in plants, animals and humans.
Garden dating back to the Second Empire
The 17th arrondissement boasts 21 hectares (51,3 acres) of green spaces, reflecting its diverse heritage.
The Square des Batignolles, with a surface area of 1.6 hectares (3.4 acres), dates back to the 19th century. It was created in 1862 by Adolphe Alphand, former director of the City of Paris Promenades and Plantations Department. The artificial slopes of the garden contrast with the rectangular lines of the square it now occupies. The central lawn is planted with remarkable trees with massive trunks and branches. They are exceptional hosts for the birds and insects who find food and shelter there suitable for their needs.
Among the trees here are a 20m (65ft) copper beech mesuring 3.5m (11ft) in width, a Caucasian elm, a date-plum tree and two plane trees of more than 30m (97ft) in height.The thick, rough bark of the oriental plane tree highlights the years it has accumulated since it was planted back in 1840. Its neighbour, the common plane tree with 6m (19ft) in circumference was planted in 1872. These two trees have received the national label "Remarkable Tree of France" in 2015. It was delivered to the City for its commitment to protecting these trees by the association A.R.B.R.E.S.
These trees are among the 200,000 monitored individually by municipal employees along streets, in gardens, cemeteries, schools, sports grounds and on the embankments of the ring road. With the help of a specialised mobile application, municipal employees check and update all information on each tree on the spot: exact species, geo-referenced location, state of health, type of ground at the foot of the tree (grid, earth, etc.), and works to be done. This innovative system connected to a data bank allows Paris's trees to be monitored in real-time.
The forested areas of Paris (Bois de Vincennes and Bois de Boulogne with almost 150,000 trees each) have their own specific management system.
Non-potable water supply
The artificial river, which winds across the gently sloping lawn runs from a rip-rap to the pool. The water of the square will drain away through an underground pipe to the future running water canal in the new Martin-Luther-King Park, in a south-westerly/north-easterly direction connected to the biotope pool. The water is supplied via a non-potable water.This network supplies the hydraulic network of the Paris woods and some parks and is used for cleaning public highways,and flushing out the municipal sewer system at a low cost while preserving the resource.
The handrails bordering the stream along the rocks and the ford add an ornamental, rustic touch and are made from cement modelled over a metal framework. Very fashionable in the 2nd half of the 19th century, they imitate nature with gnarled trunks, branches and stumps.
and flushing out the municipal sewer system
Since the 19th century, Paris has had a double water network, one potable and one non-potable, designed by Eugène Belgrand under the direction of the Prefect Haussmann during the Second Empire. Back in the 19th century, both water networks were considered fit for drinking and existed alongside each other. The "public" network that previously supplied the public drinking fountains has today become the non-potable water network managed by Eau de Paris. This non-potable water comes from three plants (Austerlitz /13th, la Villette / 19th, Auteuil /16th) taking water from the Seine and the Canal de l'Ourcq. This water is coarsely filtered in order to remove debris and particles over 3 mm (0.18 inches). The La Villette plant produces 78% of Paris's non-potable water. It is stored in eight secondary reservoirs. Four reservoirs are exclusively dedicated to the storage of non-potable water: Charonne (20th), Grenelle (15th), Passy (16th) and Villejuif. The Montmartre water tower (18th) and the reservoirs of Montmartre, Belleville (20th) and Ménilmontant (20th) are used to store potable and non-potable water. Every year Eau de Paris produces almost 200,000 m³ day of non-potable water. Almost all of this water is used to supply the lakes and rivers in the Bois de Vincennes and the Bois de Boulogne, to water green spaces, wash pavements and roadways and clean drains. The other public and private users of non-potable water only account for 2% of consumption: the watering of certain state-owned public parks, the production and distribution of water for air conditioning, and various industrial uses. A new use for the non-potable water network is being studied/ cooling down the city during heatwaves, by spraying and watering streets.
Ecological management of the garden slightly alters the landscape; it is based on differentiated management adapted to the conception of the green space and its uses, and the promotion of biodiversity.
The leaves of the trees are left in the shrub beds, acting as winter hideouts for the small fauna living in the soil and as humus for plants once they have decomposed. A small area along the river has been left as natural grassland, where large grasses and annual plants are allowed to self-seed. The plants complete their entire vegetative cycle, attracting numerous pollen seeking insects and their predators.
Environmental management is based on methods adapted to the design and uses of each green space, as well as encouraging the biodiversity. The gardens' appearance evolves with a variety of compositions including more natural plots so as to support wildlife habitats suited to common flora and fauna. Green spaces, primarily encouraging contemplation, leisure and relaxation, now also have the vocation of conservation in addition to being sites dedicated to the observation of biodiversity. Maintenance and upkeep activities are streamlined to limit pollution (soil, water, etc.), limit the consumption of natural resources such as water and preserve healthy conditions in general. This involves the replacement of chemical fertilisers and pesticides with natural and organic products, the development of plant treatments by alternative methods (e.g. plant range diversification), limiting water consumption (by efficient watering, rainwater collection, recycling of lakes and rivers, etc.). It also involves reducing energy consumption, monitoring soil quality, planting low maintenance vegetation and green waste management (reduction, on-site use, development of mulching and composting).
In this eco-district, priority is given to travel on public transport. Connections for and extensions of the bus, metro, RER and Transilien railway networks and the tram system are being and will be increased.
Autolib offers an electric car sharing service, for individual, eco-friendly journeys. All over the metropolis, more than 2500 Autolib vehicles are today available for sharing as short-term rentals, without compulsory return to the point of departure. This new mode of transport is accessible to all, silent, produces zero direct emissions (neither micro-particles nor exhaust gases), and is practical and economical.
The 3000 vehicles planned for hire in Paris and its region represent a reduction in the privately own car stock estimated at 22,500 vehicles, or the equivalent of 164,500,000 km (102.215.561.1miles) covered per year by the most polluting vehicles. A mode of transport which is an alternative to the private car and generates less pollution, fewer traffic jams and less stress.