French President Emmanuel Macron has announced a new plan to save water in France, consisting of 50 measures to address water waste and encourage conservation.
The plan includes fixing leaking pipes, adapting water usage in agriculture and the nuclear industry, and increasing pricing for those who consume water above their basic needs.
Macron’s announcement follows weeks of protests centered on an unpopular pension bill that raised the retirement age by two years.
Despite opposition, Macron stressed that protests will not stop reforms as he rallied citizens around the water-saving plan, which aims to address both climate change and water resource issues in the country.
France’s worst drought on record last summer sharpened the debate over water resources in the EU’s biggest agricultural producer.
Farmers require large reservoirs to water their crops, but environmental groups argue that these waste water are a way for farmers to confiscate a common good.
Violent clashes broke out between protesters and police during an unauthorized demonstration against the construction of a giant water reservoir for farm irrigation in western France, leaving two men in a coma.
Macron maintains that violence has no place in a democratic society and that protests will not prevent him from adopting new policies.
Some 58% of the water used in France goes to farming, with a nationwide average of 20% lost to leaks.
As part of the new plan, France will devote €180m ($196.31m) to fixing leaks in at-risk towns and upgrading networks.
Macron also plans to introduce an app that will inform residents if water usage in their area reaches a critical level.
While Macron faced protests during his speech, the government hopes to shift focus to other topics with the water-saving plan.
Making water more expensive after basic needs are covered aims to encourage people and businesses to use less in an effort to conserve this vital resource.