Tropical island’s water supplies receive major upgrade

A thirty-year project to transfer water from the east side of the Indian Ocean island of Réunion to the dry west coast improves irrigation for agriculture and benefits inhabitants of five towns.

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The ambitious west coast irrigation project was initiated in 1983. This final phase of the project brings sufficient water to the west of Réunion to irrigate 7 500 hectares of agricultural land and to supply drinking water to the towns of Le Port, La Possession, Saint Paul, Saint Leu and Trois Bassins.

Boost for island’s agricultural and industrial sectors

When construction work on the project is complete it will allow the transfer of water from east to west to be increased from a flow rate of 2.4 m3 per second in 2007 to 6.3 m3 per second and this should enable the agricultural, economic and industrial sectors on the west coast of the island to reach their full potential. The main beneficiaries of the new infrastructure will be west coast islanders, the farming sector and the sugar cane and rum producing sector.

The overall project involves the construction of 30 km of underground tunnels, 42 km of pipes, a reservoir with a capacity of 50 000 m3 as well as 40 holding tanks with capacities of between 3000 m3 and 12 000 m3. In addition, four water collection stations are being constructed on the east coast of the island and eight water distribution points installed on the west coast. 

Improving quality of life for islanders and creating jobs

The project allows a more rational and balanced use of the island’s subterranean and surface water supplies. Following the completion of construction work, various environmental improvements will be carried to restore the effected rivers to their original state. Another significant environmental benefit of the project is the fact that water tables and rivers on the west coast of the island will have less water diverted from them and will therefore revert to their natural state.

As well as improving the quality of life of islanders, it is estimated that the project will create 1 000 temporary jobs during the construction phase. The project is also expected to boost the economic competitiveness of the island and to improve convergence.

Total investment and EU funding

Total investment for the “Irrigation du Littoral Ouest (West Coast Irrigation)” project is EUR 1 088 946 016, of which the EU’s European Regional Development Fund contributed EUR 70 567 457 from the Operational Programme for the Island of Réunion for the 2007 to 2013 programming period, under the priority “Improving the competitiveness of Réunion: Organising the island's territory on the basis of new performance parameters”.

Draft date