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Monaco in perpetual motion anticipates its future water needs

The danger of fire in tall buildings is a hot topic, (forgive the pun) particularly due to recent big disasters in the U.K. and Dubai to name just two that hit the headlines – and there is always the extreme example of the World Trade Centre conflagration in New York.

Tall buildings in Monaco come under a special set of strict regulations, particularly with respect to protecting the community from any fire risk. Thus the water supply, which is particularly important in the case of a potential fire, comes under the responsibility of the Haut Service de Monaco for buildings such as the Odeon Tower and Tour Giroflees.

The Haut Service de Monaco will definitely require a reservoir with greater capacity than that of Mules, with its 450 cubic metres of water to fulfil all its responsibilities to protect the community in the rare event of a fire in any of the new tall buildings. This need for greater reservoir capacity has been envisaged since 1992 and now there is a renewed sense of urgency to implement the plan for the future.

So two huge tanks of 1000 cubic metres each are planned to be built with special anchorage into the ground in Beausoleil, (because the ground itself is more difficult to work with than normally expected) – all this sufficiently close to the Moyenne Corniche for keeping the tank-reservoir filled and to be able channel the water from the reservoir to those who need it, including the Haut Service de Monaco.

Monaco water - Odeon Tower
Odeon Tower @ Vanity Fair

Protecting the Beauty of the Environment

Of course the construction permit for the new reservoir will require that special measures are taken to beautify the area around the chosen site and camouflage the tanks themselves which must rise 177 metres above the ground – a green plant-like decoration is envisaged.

All this of course must be done in a way to avoid reasonable complaints from the public – but this is standard practice when dealing with tall structures – certainly it was for the Odeon Tower and for the Tour Giroflees whose heights are more than the 177 metres of the planned reservoir tanks that will overlook the Principality.

Monaco grows and with it the need for more fresh water

Also, the demands of Monaco’s expansion into the sea and an array of new developments, including tall, mainly residential towers like the Odeon and the Giroflees has created a sense of urgency around preparations to build this new reservoir with adequate capacity to cope with the future – a future that includes significant additions of 120 apartments and commercial areas at Anse du Portier and with the Giroflees Tower in Saint Roman embracing 73 new units.

Thus design outlines made over 20 years ago and sitting in desk drawers have resurfaced and are paving the way for this extra reservoir comprised of huge storage tanks in Beausoleil.

The New Reservoir to supply the East of the Principality

In the short and medium term a veritable demographic explosion is expected in the East of the Principality. More buildings, let’s face it, mean more people and with more people it stands to reason that we will need more fresh water.

Monaco Water Supply Giroflees
Tour Giroflees @

So for two years already SMEAUX, Monaco’s water-authority has been preparing the way forward for a new reservoir and, as with all major projects affecting the welfare of residents of the Principality, is actively involved in discussions with the Government: anticipating success in all those discussions, in another two years from now the reservoir will be completed and there will be extra capacity.

The Director of SMEAUX, Manuel Nardi is overseeing the creation of the new reservoir near the water source at Font Divine, just above the Odeon Tower, – two massive tanks with a total capacity of 2000 cubic metres and linked to a network of pipes which will secure supply to the zone that includes Dauphins and Tenao.

There is also the network of pipes leading from Monaco into France that will have to be linked with this new reservoir near Font Divine. Therefore, there is a lot of work that needs to be synchronised, including the first phase of a new network of pipes of 200 metres length on the Moyenne Corniche in coordination with the Syndicat Intercommunal des Eaux des Corniches et du Littoral.

The important heavy work can’t get started until the permit is approved – and of course there is the usual myriad of administrative headaches surrounding the permit – a bureaucratic maze even by France’s standards. The application for the construction permit was placed with the Mairie in Beausoleil in September. The area where the work will take place is designated a «green zone» which brings with it all sorts of constraints. The area is heavily urbanized and there is little land available. The land that is there is subject to tremors and potentially worrisome movements of earth. Any project of this importance and complexity needs the involvement of the Architects for the Bâtiments de France.

This project is urgently needed because the communities that the reservoir will serve are currently linked to the reservoir at Mules which is also in the commune of Beausoleil, not too distant from the cemetery. But its capacity at 450 cubic metres is deficient relative to future needs and it is not a modern enough facility that one can have confidence in going forward – particularly in light of the envisaged growth in the Principality it serves. Thus, this project to switch to the new reservoir at Terragna near the source Font Devine has an element of urgency especially with the developments at Anse du Portier and with the Odeon Tower and the Giroflees Tower in Saint Roman. Monaco in perpetual motion anticipates the future.

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