Volvic impluvium

The Chaîne des Puys Volcanoes
The Volvic impluvium is the watershed of the Volvic mineral water. With an area of 38 km² it collects the rain water and snowmelt that infiltrate and slowly crosses a succession of layers of volcanic rock, thus acquire a typical mineral composition and give rise to the Volvic natural mineral water. This watershed, characterised by a low population density and no industrial or intensive farming activities, is subject to extensive environmental protection.
Volvic impluvium protection policy
The Volvic impluvium is located in the heart of the Auvergne regional volcano park. The Volvic natural mineral water benefits from different forms of protection:
  • natural protection due to filtration of water which percolates through the pile of lava flows and scoria
  • technical protection related to the design of the catchwork and equipments preventing any contamination
  • statutory protection of the discharge area
  • protection policies set up for several years on the Volvic catchment area.
In order to fulfil these protection policies, the CEPIV (environmental committee for the protection of the Volvic impluvium) brings together the spring commune (Volvic), the communes of the impluvium (Charbonnières-les -Varennes, Pulvérières, Saint-Ours-les-Roches and Volvic) and Société des eaux de Volvic in an association which constitutes a "local water commission". This association funds projects intended for water resource protection, promoting, protecting and restoring natural spaces, local development, etc. The area of the impluvium, its players and inhabitants therefore benefit from the scientific and technical expertise of the experts of the Danone group and technical organisations (research institutes, consulting firms, etc.) appointed by Danone or the CEPIV.
The SEMEAU project is right at the heart of the environmental preoccupations of Société des Eaux de Volvic, whether they be related to water resource protection, significant economic stakes for the region or forestry management
Description of the Volvic mineral water aquifer
Source: volcanology of the Chaine des Puys (source: Boivin et al., 2004)
The Volvic impluvium is particularly suitable for the development of the tool. With a surface area of 38 km², it is mainly covered by forest (over 50%), moors and grassland. The hydrological and hydrogeological functioning of the basin has been covered by extensive studies as well as the compilation of a significant amount of data (quantity and quantity-orientated) on which the tool can be built. The Volvic natural mineral water stems from a volcanic aquifer located in the North of the Chaîne des Puys which corresponds to a North-South alignment of 80 volcanoes formed during the Quaternary spanning over 37 km.
These edifices and volcanic materials rest on a crystalline basement complex and fill ancient paleovalleys. The basement is exposed at the North and West boundaries of the catchment area and constitutes the impervious substratum of the Volvic aquifer. The aquifer's structure corresponds to a piling up of lava flows and scoria and pyroclastic formations of the Quaternary period which covered the antevolcanic morphology of the basement during the Quaternary period. Rain water or snowmelt can follow distinct paths according to the type of geological formations: either they infiltrate directly into the volcanic formations or runoff over the outcropping basement and later infiltrate at the contact with the volcanic formations. The water then percolates vertically into the unsaturated zone which can exceed 100 or even 200 m thick at the scoria cones before joining the impermeable crystalline basement. Then the flow is concentrated into the paleovalleys corresponding to the antevolcanic morphology. Previous geological explorations have revealed two corridors, two paleovalleys which join up in the “Les Goulots” area.
Volvic water tapping The town of Volvic was originally a prime exploitation site of Volvic volcanic stone, used to build houses and numerous buildings such as the Clermont-Ferrand cathedral. It was the quarries that prompted the water prospecting in the impluvium under the lava flows of Puy de La Nugère. The first Goulot spring was tapped in the thirties. In 1963, the Clairvic drilling was set up to feed the bottling plant of Société des Eaux de Volvic. The water extracted was classed in 1965 as “Natural Mineral Water” by the Ministry of Health.
Nowadays Société des Eaux de Volvic employs approximately 900 people and produces 1.2 billion bottles of water per year exported to 65 countries. Every year the Volvic site welcomes nearly 70,000 visitors boosting their awareness of the environmental context and water resource protection.