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U r b a n  W a t e r

Sustainable Water Managment in Urban Space


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Project description

The Espierre project


The work planned for the Espierre watercourse falls within the framework of the development of a 3-million-inhabitant Franco-Belgian metropolis.


The quality of water and of the environment are important aspects of the development of this great metropolis, which has been seriously injured by the productivist logic and whose urban and industrial heritage is particularly heavy. The stakes are: to take a significant leap in quality while getting rid of the marks of the heritage in order to make the cross-border territory an attractive living environment for inhabitants and enterprises.


The Espierre watercourse is one of the stakes of this perspective

The Espierre, which runs through a densely populated area of the metropolis (a catchment area of 400,000 inhabitants), receives rainwater and wastewater from an area of 5609 hectares consisting in the City of Roubaix (in its entirety) and a part of the cities of Tourcoing, Mouvaux, Croix, Wasquehal, Hem, Wattrelos, Lys-les-Lannoy and Leers (on the French side). It is part of the Lille Urban Community’s sewerage system. It has its source in France and flows into Belgium.



The objectives of the Espierre project



Requalification of the river landscape

The work will transform the Espierre to make it look more natural and integrate it into a larger project – the development of the Roubaix canal and its banks. This important effort of redevelopment of the river landscape will also help reduce flood risks.



Flood protection

As the Espierre has gentle slopes, floods with return frequency of ten years or more cause a significant raising of the water line and are at the origin of the important urban floods witnessed in Roubaix, Wattrelos and Leers. Even though these events are not a recent phenomenon, they have tended to multiply for a few years now and are linked to the important water precipitation and the growing waterproofing of the soils.

The project will reduce the flood risks in the sensible areas and improve the living conditions of the population near to the Espierre. The aim is to control in a more satisfactory way the hydraulic aspects of the water course. It’s a technical challenge for this densely urbanised area.


Integration into a larger project: the Roubaix canal

The Espierre stream runs along the Roubaix canal up to its confluence with the Scheldt, i.e. about 4.5 km in France and 7.5 km in Belgium: the work on the Espierre is an integral part of the project of development of the Roubaix canal’s banks. The operation that aims at reopen the canal to shipping called “Blue links” has obtained EU-funding under the Interreg IIIb programme. The Espierre project is therefore a complementary and necessary part of this important project.


Making a degraded urban area attractive again

The objective of this work is to make the highly populated Roubaix/Tourcoing/Wattrelos/Leers area more attractive and to reduce olfactory and sight pollution – it is therefore an important part of the redevelopment of an extremely damaged area. As the work on the Espierre will be integrated into the programme of development of the Roubaix canal, the attractiveness of the area will be improved thanks to the work for a navigable Roubaix canal and the development of river tourism from the Deűle to the Scheldt.

Area map

Area Map


Last update:  13:40 08/03 2005
Dortmund (Lake Phoenix/ Emscher)
Hamm (Lake Lippe)
Emscher catchment (decentral stormwater projects)
Lille (Espierre)
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