By the beautiful fountain
The Petite-Halle fountain was built in 1710 opposite the abbey of Saint-Antoine des Champs, later to become Saint-Antoine Hospital. The two buildings have been on the list of heritage buildings since 1962. Drinking water runs from a bronze mascaron in the form of a man's face. This cool, clean water is delivered free of charge throughout Paris by the Eau de Paris municipal utility. It is closely monitored, with no less than one million tests carried out on it each year, and analysed for 56 different drinkability criteria. Paris has one of the best drinking waters in terms of quality, produced by a network which guarantees the lowest possible leakage levels (92% supply guaranteed).
Paris water comes from underground water (springs) and surface water (rivers). In this neighbourhood, it is water from the Loing and Voulzie springs which flows from the taps, after being treated. Place Mireille Havet, where the fountain is located, has a narrow central reservation, which will soon be redeveloped following the Parisians' vote in the 2015 Participatory Budget, in order to provide better conditions for pedestrians.
In the flower bed next to the fountain, the varieties of evergreen plants have been chosen for the colour and texture of their foliage, in order to create a beautiful verdant screen all year round. The olive green and creamy beige foliage of the variegated pittosporum (Pittosporum tenuifolium 'Variegatum'), contrasts with the light green, feathery needles of the Japanese cedar (Cryptomeria japonica 'Elegans Viridis') and with the compact, upright silhouette of the Cherry Laurel (Prunus laurocerasus). The ecological advantages of this type of evergreen hedge are the variety of food sources and the abundance of cosy hiding places which they offer small insects and birds all year round. These small islands of greenery are part of the capital's green network, facilitating the movement of wild fauna and flora, something which is monitored by Paris' Biodiversity Action Plan.
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.
Eau de Paris, an independent municipal body, manages the city's drinking water from production to transportation. Around half of the city's tap water comes from groundwater collected within a radius of 100 to 150 km (60 to 100 miles) around Paris. The other half is surface water from the Marne and the Seine rivers. Groundwater is processed in four plants built between 2004 and 2009, removing any traces of pesticides in the water. River water is treated in plants at Orly and Joinville. The water quality is constantly monitored at an analytical laboratory run by the municipal authorities, located in Ivry. On average, 500 million litres (132 million gallons) of drinking water are consumed every day in Paris, brought to the city's taps via 1 800 km (1,120 miles) of pipelines. Every year, Parisian tap water undergoes over a million quality checks. To preserve the quality of groundwater resources, Eau de Paris maintains uncultivated spaces above and upstream from catchment areas, as well as encouraging the development and continuation of organic farming, in order to improve water quality.
The City of Paris encourages the initiatives of its citizens to improve, enrich and change their city. Henceforth, through its participative budget, Parisians participate in the budgetary choices of the community, and the development of their city. They suggest and co-build the projects on the platform www.idee.paris.fr: where community based projects within the districts, such as the renovation of a school playground or the reorganization of a street, as well as projects on a larger scale, such as the development of nature within the city or innovative digital services. After study by the different departments of the City, the selected projects are then submitted to a vote. Five percent of the capital's investment budget that is to say a half-billion euros for the period between 2014 and 2020 is set aside for the realization of these projects. The first ones to be implemented include : creating green walls, return some streets to the children, creation of co-working spaces, installation of mobile recycling spots, gardening in schools ...
A new Biodiversity Plan is in the process of being developed to reinforce nature's place throughout the Parisian territory and reduce the carbon footprint of the city. Following an inventory of the biodiversity in Paris, liaising with its citizens and the committed territorial agents at the beginning of 2016 through local dialoguing workshops and contributions to a collaborative platform will bring forward the main themes which will constitute the City's new stategy for all living things.
There are 3,400 Autolib' electric cars now available for sharing throughout the metropolitan area. They are available for short-term hire without any obligation to return them to the same point of departure. This mode of transportation is silent, practical, economical and free of direct emissions (no micro-particles or exhaust gases).
These 3,400 vehicles provided for hire in Paris and its region represent an estimated reduction in the pool of privately owned automobiles of 22,500 vehicles, or the equivalent of 164,500,000 km/year, equivalent to over 4,000 round-the-world trips, which will not be driven by more polluting vehicles. It also provides an alternative to the private car, which generates less pollution and stress.
A sturdy variety
The large Japanese pagoda trees (Styphnolobium japonicum) in the small square in front of the Saint Antoine Hospital provide refreshing shade and limit the heat island effect throught the transpiration of their foliage in summer. The first Japanese pagoda plant was sent from China to the current Jardin des Plantes in 1747, by Jesuit Father Pierre Nicolas Le Chéron d'Incarville (1706-1757), an enthusiastic botanist, who was responsible for introducing several ornamental varieties to France which are now common in green spaces around the City. (golden rain tree, ailanthus and cedrela). The Japanese pagoda tree is a variety which is very well suited to the city and to today's climate change. It withstands low temperatures and tolerates heat, drought and atmospheric pollution !
Trees are "natural air conditioners", in that they offer a cooling system by means of water evaporation and thanks to the shade cast on the ground by their foliage. Many factors contribute to heat storage on hot summer days: facades and roofs, densely packed buildings, asphalt sidewalks and streets, as well as the narrowness of certain streets which prevent air currents. For all these reasons, the average temperature is 2 to 3°C (3.6 to 5.4 °F) higher in Paris than in rural or suburban areas. The air is also drier and more polluted. Stored up during the day and released at night, this heat prevents nocturnal cooling and causes uncomfortably high temperatures for city dwellers during heat waves. Green spaces and trees play an important role in the fight against extreme city heat. Surveys of summer temperatures at midday on the edge of a wooded area confirm that water loss from plants cools the air nearby.
The issue of climate change is no longer debatable, it has become a reality. It is now generally accepted that preparation is the key to better adaptation for the future. The climate change projections for Paris estimate that during the 21st century heat-wave summers will become more and more frequent occurrences, while water resources will become scarcer. Adaptation to higher temperatures and consuming less water are therefore two major concerns as Paris faces climate change in the future. As part of the Climate and Energy Action Plan for Paris, a project that was launched in 2007 and revised in 2012, the greening of public spaces is strongly encouraged. It offers a means of adaptation to heat-wave temperatures and counters the effects of the urban heat island phenomenon, as the evapotranspiration of plants helps cool the air temperature. However, it is important to integrate plants which can adapt to the new climate conditions, particularly with regard to their need for water and their resistance to heat.