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IOWater, WIS partner


Following the 1992 Water Law, the National Water Data Network (RNDE) was created at the initiative of the Ministry for the Environment to facilitate the sharing and availability of water data. This partnership mechanism gathered the main producers of public and private data. The various stakeholders, including the International Office for Water (IOWater), are then concerned with the management of water data. In 2000, the Water Framework Directive set environmental targets for Member States and asked them to base their policies on a more in-depth knowledge of the environment and to report on their effectiveness through monitoring programs, feeding the Water Information System for Europe, WISE.

Succeeding to the RNDE, the French Water Information System (WIS) is then set up by the Ministry in charge of the environment to meet these requirements, supporting the design, implementation and evaluation of water- oriented policies. The WIS is then introduced into the Environment Code (Article L213-2) by the Law on Water and Aquatic Environments (LEMA) of 30 December 2006. The WIS governance is organized at national level under the authority of the Water and Biodiversity Department.

WIS has millions of data on water and aquatic environments, their uses and on public water and sanitation services such as the quality of rivers, lakes, coastlines, groundwater, aquifer depth, river flow rate, ecological quality of aquatic environments, distribution of aquatic species, obstacles to flow, description of wetlands, water prices and performance of services... WIS responds to environmental challenges (pollution, resource sharing, climate change, etc.) and supports public action. It complies with an obligation of transparency and the provision of environmental information for all in accordance with the Aarhus Convention and the Charter on the Environment added to the Constitution. The WIS data and knowledge that are not protected by law are public and freely disseminated under open license. They are stored in databases and then made available through the Web via the portal, the public water information service.

The National Water Data Scheme (SNDE) and its technical annexes constitute the technical reference frame for the implementation of the WIS. The SNDE was approved by an inter-ministerial decree dated 26 July 2010.



Many stakeholders and organizations participate in the life and management of the French Water Information System (WIS): Ministries and decentralized governmental services, SOeS, Schapi, the Water Agencies and Boards, The French Agency for Biodiversity, BRGM, INERIS, IRSTEA, IGN, IFREMER, LNE, MNHN, local authorities, associations, IOWater and water companies.

The French Agency for Biodiversity (AFB) is responsible for the national technical coordination of the WIS, continuing the activities carried out by the National Agency for Water and Aquatic Environments (ONEMA) until the end of 2016, and the Basin delegations and Water Agencies or Boards are coordinating the WIS in their basins. An annual report on the implementation of the National Water Data Scheme (SNDE) and its action plan is prepared by the WIS Permanent Committee of Users (CNE commission) and presented in plenary assembly to the CNE (National Water Committee).


What is IOWater doing?

Since its creation, the International Office for Water (IOWater), in accordance with Article 1 of the Decree of 30 August 2001 on its Statutes, contributes to the proper management of the French Water Information System (WIS).


  • collaborates in programs for the management and synthesis of data on water quality, pollution, aquatic resources and protection of the environments;
  • disseminates reliable information tailored to the needs of its various partners;
  • collects, analyzes and readily makes available scientific, technical, economic and institutional documentation on the different water issues;
  • ensures a technological watch to constantly update knowledge in real time.

In France, IOWater collects water data for the purpose of recovery or even to meet regulatory requirements. This work leads to a better knowledge of the environment, pressures and impacts on the environments, pollution, resource sharing, climate change... As part of its watch and strategic analysis activities, IOWater also provides its technical expertise to the water stakeholders. In addition, IOWater is in charge of the technical secretariat of the French National Service for Water Data and Common Reference Frames Management (SANDRE) guaranteeing the technical and semantic interoperability of the WIS. The work of SANDRE is essential for the sharing of water data and for their comparability with each other and with others.

As part of its watch and strategic analysis activities, IOWater also provides its technical expertise to European stakeholders for the implementation of the Community Water Policy. In addition, as part of the activities of the National Service for Water Data and Common Reference Frames Management (SANDRE), IOWater ensures the links between the WIS and European obligations such as the INSPIRE Directive, the Water Information System for Europe (WISE), etc.


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