Town of Vals-les-Bains

The Syndicat Intercommunal pour le THERmalisme et l’Environnement (SITHERE, (local authority joint board for thermalism and the environment)) is a beneficiary of the SEMEAU project.
The town of Vals les Bains is a tourist and spa commune of Ardèche Méridionale. It has a population of 3,500. The most urbanised part is at the end of the narrow Volane valley. This commune has the special feature of having over 140 springs of mineral water concentrated in a limited area.
In order to protect this resource, the commune has purchased over 60 hectares of forests on the eastern part of the Volane catchment area within immediate proximity of the town centre. This is the site poised to host the actions of the SEMEAU programme in Vals les Bains.
The site of Vals-les-bains (source : Sithere)
The Vals les Bains site was chosen to specifically focus on the water quantity-orientated management demonstrative actions in the Mediterranean context, to design and deploy tools designed to boost awareness and training in water resource protection and to conduct pilot communication operations.
The aim is to propose good practices or even alternative solutions designed to limit the use of or do without products such as fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides which risk damaging the quality of surface and groundwater over the long term.
In order to fulfill this awareness mission, the Vals site will be accommodating demonstrative water management and protection work in the Mediterranean context.
This site was chosen for its location in the heart of the communal Vals-les-Bains forest along with its proximity to the town centre: approximately 2 km facilitating access to walkers.
The project entails creating a water-themed nature trail. This trail would include: the riverside, a spring, terraces with "béalières" (very small irrigation canals) and a small farm housing a permanent exposition.
The work on the riverside entails clearing the bed as well as the approaches of the stream making it more functional and enhancing springs downstream.
The spring and the “béalières" will be rehabilitated for agricultural use and to showcase to the public the former heritage related to the water economy and its utility.
The agricultural terraces will also be cleared in order to be highlighted and planted with fruit trees.
The roof of the small Fargeon farm will be restored and a tank will be fitted to recover the rain water. A permanent water-themed exhibition will be held in the small farm with information boards.
An educational booklet for school children will also be made.
Theme-based educational outings will be held by guides for school children and the general public (spa users, tourists and locals). Finally, a communication campaign will be featured in the local press.