Thomas Joly

Helping nature reassert itself to better protect communities
Published in the dossier of February 2019

Thomas Joly, maire de Verrières-le-Buisson

The Mayor of Verrières-le-Buisson, a small French town located some twenty kilometers from Paris, Thomas Joly is also the current President of the Bièvre Valley Intermunicipal Sanitation Authority (SIAVB). While SIAVB initially concentrated on wastewater treatment when it was founded in 1945, it has since distinguished itself by putting in place an exemplary hydraulic network management system in the Bièvre Valley.

“It was the flood of 1982, which caused several million francs’ worth of damage at the time, that raised the executive board’s awareness. They said that this had to stop. Since then, we have done the necessary to conserve and regulate water in the area (see main article). We are proud of the Authority, which drove this long-term project forward under Alain-Victor Marchand’s chairmanship. The latter even said that the Bièvre was the first river in France entirely under digital control! The Authority now brings together 16 municipalities and a 17th will most likely be added shortly. We now live in a region that is not only secure but pleasant for its inhabitants, where biodiversity has been recovered thanks to this partnership with Veolia, which strives to optimize the volume of the basins by restoring the Bièvre. Today, we are making what may seem to be our weakness into our strength. We are restoring bends to our rivers, because a more sinuous pathway for our watercourses offers us more storage capacity. In a certain sense, we are helping nature reassert itself! Our experience also serves to assist other areas, such as the Angkor region in Cambodia. Over and above protecting the temples from flooding by storing water, we use this water now available for other purposes, such as irrigating rice fields, thereby helping provide food for Cambodians.”