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EVIAN WATER PLATEAU
STRATEGIC WATER LANDSCAPE
Elena Pibernik and Selina Strich
The area between Evian-Les-Bains and the Alps holds one of the most strategic resources of the region. Here the springs of Evian – potentially the most branded water worldwide – create a landscape of extreme value, as well as a tourist attraction.

Due to the water resource Evian-Les-Bains has been one of the most recognizable historic destinations on the shores of the lake, a high-market holiday resort – and spa-town. Since the 19th century, the interest for Salus per Aquam (health through water) generated the “spa-cities” and the Evian mineral sources very soon attracted numerous hotels and spa centers. The Belle-Époque, the golden age of hydrotherapy, brought about the area an intellectual and aristocratic clientele promoted by the construction of the port and railway station. In the beginning of 20th century, the hills and the lakeshore were already covered with noble houses, luxurious villas, expensive hotels, a theatre and a casino on the lakeside.

Today Evian is one of the major brands of bottled Natural Mineral Water (NMW) originating from preserved areas in France and owned by the global French enterprise Danone. Landscapes around Evian have acquired strategic value and have consequently been preserved to protect the water quality. Overlooking the lake Léman and the town of Évian, Plateau de Gavot (35 km2) is the surface of collection and the heart of the Évian mineral water impluvium: the place where the water infiltrates the soil. On the plateau, rainwater and snowmelt collected from the Alps are slowly filtered and purified via the multiple geological strata, starting a process that fifteen years later will result to the natural mineral water that comes out of the Evian springs few miles away, to be bottled under the brand name Évian. The Gavot Plateau wetlands were classified “protected zones” in 2008, within the framework of the international Ramsar Convention. The site’s protection is of environmental as well as economic importance because protecting the Gavot contributes to preserving the aquifer exploited by Evian Mineral Waters Ltd. and its right to use the “Natural Mineral Water” label, with is given out under strict regulations by the French government
Agriculture, being the main economic activity in the impluvium area, developed in this set-up a crucial role for the protection of the water resource. A specific regime of rules of agricultural cultivation, initiated by the Evian Mineral Waters Ltd., has been established in order to protect the watershed from the intrusion of pollutants. The aim is to protect the agricultural land of the plateau from development and intensification of the production while maintaining biodiversity.