Reclaiming the aquatic environment

Toulon Bay Contract

The Contract for the Bay of Toulon is an overarching scheme to restore the quality of the waters and the aquatic environments of the Bay and its catchment area. The 2002-2009 Contract involved 160 scheduled initiatives and over 30 partners. It resulted in 114 initiatives completed (71% of the total), 23 in progress (14%) and 24 not completed (15%). A second Contract for the Bay of Toulon is currently on the drawing board. While the new five-year programme offers an opportunity to put the finishing touches to some of the objectives initially undertaken, it is primarily designed to respond to new European priorities on water quality. Bay Contract no. 2, due for signature in the summer of 2013, will benefit from the concerted momentum and experience built up under its predecessor.

Bay Contract no. 1 (2002-2009)

The Contract for the Bay of Toulon and its catchment area, signed in 2002, united all those involved in the life of the bay around common objectives of restoring the quality of the waters of the bay and of its aquatic environments.

In conjunction with all the partners and agents engaged in restoring the quality of the waters of Toulon Bay, the Toulon Provence Méditerranée metropolitan area is tasked with managing and coordinating the necessary actions.

At the same time, TPM is also a direct contracting authority involved in crosscutting support for the process, including ensuring communication of the project and its aims, conducting pilot studies and carrying out scientific testing to assess the quality of the environments concerned.  

Bay Contract no. 1 (2002-2009) focused essentially on sanitation and reducing pollution flows (over 60% of projects were sanitation related).

The purpose of a Bay Contract is to establish objectives for the preservation, maintenance and improvement of the coastal ecosystem and then to schedule and carry out the studies and work required to attain those objectives.  It is a complex process that calls for close local consultation and cooperation between all the partners concerned, formed into a Bay Committee. The Contract for the Bay of Toulon is an overarching scheme to restore the quality of the waters and the aquatic environments of the Bay and its catchment area. On the basis of the findings of the exhaustive environmental analysis carried out for the preliminary report, two main angles of attack were identified and agreed upon:

  • Restoring the quality of aquatic environments, and in particular reducing bacteriological pollution in waters used for bathing and for aquaculture, as well as combating toxic pollution.
  • Developing the heritage and the economy of the Bay. Corollary objectives of harmonising different types of use were incorporated through the universally accepted themes of water quality and sustainable development. 

Objective of the operation and main actions 

The Bay Contract was launched on the bayside some years ago now, and the framework studies already date back several years (initial analysis in 1998 and programming study in 2001). The Contract is founded on concrete actions, broken down into three areas:

  • Reducing pollution flows

(63% of the budget and 50% of the number of projects)

  • Restoring aquatic environments

(34% of the budget and 30% of the number of projects)

  • Integrated management (organisation, communication, education campaigns)

(3% of the budget and 20% of the number of projects)

Concrete actions

Bay Contract no. 1 included, for example, actions relating to:

  • Improving the security of sanitation networks: water treatment plants, network renovation,
  • Environmental facilities at ports: careening docks, pumping wastewater from ships,
  • Opening up the coast to the public through better knowledge of the environment of the Bay,
  • Raising user awareness and education campaigns: schools programmes such as "The Bay told me…, etc.

Completion by the end of the Contract

The action completion rate by the end of the Contract is 72%.

The percentage of actions still in progress is 14%, but with different levels of commitment.

The percentage of actions cancelled as no longer relevant is 7%.

The percentage of actions not started but to be carried over into Bay Contract no. 2 is 7%.

The last actions currently under way involve an evaluation of the quality of the environment, in particular the chemical mapping of sediments and analysis of the quality of marine ecosystems. 

Towards a new Bay Contract

The objectives of Bay Contract no. 2 will be fully compatible with the new Water Development and Management Master Plan (SDAGE 2009) and the European Water Framework Directive.

The Bay Contract is, in many ways, a local tool for the application of these measures decided and set out in programmes at national and European level, but also serves local projects and interests as expressed through initiatives such as the Toulon Great Bay Project. Key themes will focus on the following:

After an overview of all the studies, 4 challenges and 10 objectives were identified for the new contract: 


Challenge A – Improve water quality

  • Reduce microbiological pollution
  • Reduce chemical pollution (metals – hydrocarbons – organic compounds)
  • Reduce pesticide and nutrient pollution
  • Identify releases of pharmaceutical substances

Challenge B – Sustainable management of resources and environments to maintain different uses

  • Manage drinking water resources sustainably
  • Reduce the impacts of uses associated with land-based, coastal and marine aquatic environments

Challenge C – Improve the natural functioning of aquatic ecosystems

  • Remove debris and wrecks from land-based, coastal and marine aquatic environments
  • Restore, preserve and maintain the normal functioning of land-based, coastal and marine aquatic environments

Challenge D – Maintain an organisation that brings regional actors together for the long term

  • Manage, monitor and evaluate the Bay Contract
  • Communicate, inform and raise awareness among key actors and the local population

Key figures

Bay Contract no. 1

  • Signed on 6 September 2002
  • 160 projects (157 in the initial schedule and 3 projects added at subsequent Bay Committee meetings)
  • €102.7 million
  • 30 contracting authorities and financial partners
  • 5 years of actions (2002-2007) plus 2 years to finalise (2008-2009)