Arrangement on the Protection, Utilization, and Recharge of the Franko-Swiss Genevese Aquifer

(Sept. 1977) (Unofficial English Translation)

The State Council of the Republic and Canton of Geneva
The Prefect of Haute-Savoie

Recognizing the need of establishing an agreed management for the Genevese aquifer in order to protect this natural resource and to preserve the quality of its waters,

Covenant and agree as follows:

FIRST CHAPTER – Management Commission

Article 1 – The Commission

1. A Genevese Aquifer Management Commission (the “Commission”) is hereby created which shall comprise three Swiss and three French members designated respectively by the Council of State of the Canton of Geneva and by the Prefect of Haute-Savoie.

2. At least two members in each of the two delegations forming the Commission shall be selected among technicians specialized in water matters.

Article 2 – Mandate

1. The mandate of the Commission shall be to propose a yearly aquifer utilization programme which, as far as possible, takes into account the needs of the various users. To this effect, the Commission shall be entitled to formulate any useful proposal on the measures to be taken in order to ensure the protection of the waters in the aquifer and to remedy possible causes of pollution thereof.

2. The Commission shall in particular give its technical opinion on the construction of new extraction works on the aquifer and on the modification of existing equipment.

3. The Commission shall proceed with the audit of the construction and operational costs of the recharge installation as further specified in Articles 12 and 13 of the present Arrangement.

4. Each delegation shall report to its parent authority.

Article 3 – Organization

1. Each party shall assume for itself the running costs of the Commission.

2. The Commission, as necessary and on an equal basis, shall designate representatives entrusted with the control of the volume of water extracted by the various users.

3. The Commission shall convene periodically, as well as whenever so requested by either of its member delegations.

4. The meetings of the Commission shall be held alternatively in Geneva and in the Sub-Prefectorate of St- Julien-en-Genevois.

5. The conclusions of the Commission’s meetings shall be recorded in a joint report.

SECOND CHAPTER – Waterworks and Equipment

Article 4 – Inventory

1. All existing waterworks and their equipment, whether public of private, allowing for the utilization of the resources of the Genevese aquifer shall be inventoried jointly at the initiative of the Commission.

2. This inventory shall detail all the specific terms and conditions currently governing such waterworks, such as the authorized water extraction volume, the installed power and protected areas.

Article 5 – New Waterworks and Equipment

1. Every new waterwork or equipment, as well and any modification to existing waterworks and equipment, shall be subject to the prior technical opinion of the Commission as provided for in Article 2.2 above.

2. Subject to the provisions of the present Arrangement, the respective parent authorities of the parties hereto shall make sovereign decisions in respect of the projects submitted to them.

3. The inventory provided for at Article 4 above shall be up-dated every time new waterworks and equipment are set into operation.

4. The Commission shall oversee the construction of the waterworks and equipment referred to at paragraph 1., above, until the same are set into operation.

Article 6 – Recording of Water Extractions

All waterworks shall be equipped with a device for the recording of the volume of water extracted from the aquifer. Such a device shall be periodically gauged and sealed at the initiative of the Commission, each of the parties hereto having its own seal. Readings shall be effected periodically and recorded in a register kept in two originals.

Article 7 – Recording of Water Levels

1. All waterworks shall be equipped with a standard device for the recording of the variations in the water-level of the aquifer.

2. Copies of the recording tapes shall be remitted periodically to the operator of the recharge installation who shall be designated by the State of Geneva and who shall present his report at least once a year to the Commission.

THIRD CHAPTER - Construction and Operation of the Recharge Installation

Article 8 – Construction – Operation – Ownership

1. The Republic and Canton of Geneva shall be responsible for the construction and operation of the artificial recharge installation which shall be and remain in its sole ownership.

2. It may entrust the operation of this installation to a third party, hereinafter designated as the “operator”.

FOURTH CHAPTER – Extraction Forecast – Limitations

Article 9 – Limitations

1. Based on the dimensions and capacity of the artificial recharge installation to be constructed, the French authorities and public collectivities shall ensure that the aggregate of water extractions by the users located within their territory shall not exceed 5’000’000 cubic meters per annum, inclusive of a free allocation of 2’000’000 cubic meters. In case of necessity, derogations to this 5’000’000 cubic meters limit may be agreed to by the Commission upon consultation with the operator.

2. In exceptional circumstances and in order to be able to satisfy their own needs, the Swiss users may request the French users, through the Commission, to forfeit part or whole of their free allocation in their favour. Upon acceptance by the French users, the effective water volumes allocations shall be paid for by the Swiss users at the cubic meter production cost obtained from similar French waterworks, payment conditions being specified at the time of the request.

Article 10 – Forecasts – Reserved Water Volumes

1. In order to ensure the rational management of the recharge installation, at the beginning of the year each user or group of users shall announce to the Commission their estimated volume of extractions from the aquifer for the next twelve months. Such forecasts are designated as “reserved water volume”, or:


2. The “total reserved water volume” equals the total of the reserved water volumes by all users, or

                                    Rv = rv 1 + rv 2 + … rvn

3. The operator shall take Rv into consideration in order to best manage recharge operations, each user being entitled to dispose with priority of the reserved water volume (Rv) allocated to him.

4. Each user or group of users shall be entitled to a 20% extraction margin with respect to his reserved water volume (Rv). Extractions in excess of 20% over and above Rv shall be subject to the approval of the Commission based on the technical opinion of the operator.

CHAPTER FIVE – Recording and Control of Extractions and Water Levels

Article 11 – Definitions

1. (Ev) shall mean the volume of water effectively extracted in one year by the aggregate of French and Swiss users.

2. The recording of water extractions from the aquifer shall be effected jointly and entered into two registers, one for the Swiss authorities and one for the French authorities.

3. Water level data from the aquifer shall be exchanged and recorded into those same registers. These may be inspected at any time upon request by either of the two delegations comprising the Commission.

CHAPTER SIX – Artificial Recharge Cost Sharing

Article 12 – Definition of Construction Costs

1. Within one year at the latest from the setting into operation of the recharge installation, the State of Geneva shall compute corresponding construction costs in Swiss Francs. Such construction costs shall include in particular:

  • study costs and fees directly related to the construction of the installation and ancillary works;
  • the total cost of the construction works as such (civil engineering, electro-mechanical equipment, buildings, drainage network, landscape works);
  • electro-mechanical equipment start-up charges.

2. The parties hereto covenant and agree that investment costs shall be amortized in constant yearly installments (A), computed interest included, over a period of thirty years taking into account the subsequent variations in the money market rates. In this connection, the interest rate shall be fixed every year based on the borrowing conditions obtained by the Genevese public collectivities from the ‘Banque hypothécaire du canton de Genève’ (Mortgage Bank of the Canton of Geneva).

Article 13 – Definition of Operating Costs

Operating costs (O), computed yearly, shall include the following items expressed in Swiss Francs:

  • power supply;
  • chemicals;
  • treatment, elimination and disposal of sediments;
  • labor;
  • spare-parts and various materials;
  • maintenance of buildings and access ways;
  • transport and related costs;
  • management and insurance costs;
  • replacement of part or all of the electro-mechanical equipment as considered technically indispensable by the Commission;
  • rental cost of the land supporting the recharge installation.

Article 14 – French Participation

1. The French participation (Fp) to the artificial recharge costs shall be computed yearly as follows:

                                    Fp = (A + O) -------------

in which:

Evef        = Effective volume of water extracted by the French users;

Evepf      = Effective volume of water extracted and payable by the French Users = Evef – 2’000’000 cubic meters (free allocation);

Vr = Volume of recharge water extracted, i.e., Ev less natural recharges currently estimated at 7’500’000 cubic meters per annum, which estimate may possibly be revised by the Commission based on observations made in the course of operations.

It is nevertheless expressly agreed that, in order to compute the French participation, a reduction in water extractions from the aquifer occurring for whatever reason on the Swiss side shall in no instance lead to a value of Evfp: Vr higher than the said natural recharges, i.e., 2 : 7.5, unless allowed by the Commission in accordance with the provisions of Article 9.1., herein.

Volumes of water not extracted but paid for to the State of Geneva by Swiss users shall however not be accounted for as a reduction in water extractions from the aquifer on the Swiss side within the meaning of the above paragraph.

2. In the event that the effective volume of water extracted by all French users (Evef) would be lower than 70% of their total reserved water volume (Rvf), the French participation to recharge costs shall nevertheless be computed within the limits established at paragraph 1., above, by adjusting the value of Evef to 70% of Rvf (Evef = 0.7 Rvf).

Article 15 – Form of Payment

1. At the beginning of the year, a contribution proportional to the reserved water volumes shall be paid in advance; such a payment shall guarantee a water level in the aquifer sufficient to satisfy the normal operation of all waterworks during the year.

2. A the end of the year, the State of Geneva shall establish the balance of the total French and Swiss participations for consideration by the Commission. Upon notification of the amount of the French participation contemplated at Article 14 above, the balance due after deduction of the advance provided for at paragraph 1., above, shall be paid within sixty days in Swiss Francs to the Treasury of the State of the Republic and Canton of Geneva.

SEVENTH CHAPTER – Quality Control – Pollution Abatement

Article 16 – Water Analysis

1. Water extracted from the aquifer shall be analyzed by both sides on the basis of standard qualitative analysis criteria established by the Commission.

2. Such analyses shall be made at regular intervals, as fixed by the Commission. Results shall be exchanged and recorded.

3. Analyses of the water intended to be injected into the aquifer shall be made under the same conditions.

Article 17 – Warning System

1. The parties hereto shall maintain a monitoring network installed at the initiative of the competent local authorities and intended for the issuance of warnings in the case of accidental pollution likely to affect the water quality of the aquifer.

2. In case of warning, protection measures commensurate with the circumstances shall be taken on both sides without any restriction.


Article 18

1. The Republic and Canton of Geneva shall be liable for damages caused to the quality of the waters of the aquifer resulting from failure to maintain the recharge installation or from want in its operation, especially as regards water treatment.

2. Its liability shall however be exonerated in the event it can be evidenced that such a pollution would have occurred even in the absence of a recharge installation.

3. The liability of the French and Swiss public collectivities or of third parties in the case of pollution of the waters of the aquifer resulting from acts or events occurring within the French and Swiss territories is reserved.

NINTH CHAPTER – Term and Termination

Article 19

1. The present Arrangement is concluded for a period of thirty years.

2. Unless either party hereto serves a notice of termination to the other party at least one year prior to expiry, the present Arrangement shall automatically renew for five year periods.

3. Either party hereto shall be entitled at any time to request the opening of negotiations with a view to modifying or supplementing the present Arrangement. Such negotiations shall initiate within six month from the date of the request at the latest.


Article 20

1. Any dispute relating to the implementation of the present Arrangement shall be submitted for conciliation to the Franco-Genevese Regional Committee.

2. Failing settlement, the matter shall be referred to the Franco-Swiss Consultative Commission for Problems of Neighborliness.

ELEVENTH CHAPTER – Final Provisions

Article 21 – Detailed Management Rules

Within one year from the commissioning of the recharge installation, the Commission shall submit a draft Detailed Technical Rules for the Management of the Aquifer for approval by the Working Group entrusted by the Franco-Genevese Regional Committee (hereinafter the “Regional Committee”) with the study of water supply matters within the French border zone.

Article 22 – Transitory Provisions

For the period preceding the commissioning of the recharge installation, the parties signatories hereto agree to a limitation to the water extractions from the Genevese Aquifer until a water level considered satisfactory by the Commission is reached. The Commission shall be entitled to examine the difficulties which the implementation of this provision may raise and, if need be, may propose solutions to the users.

Article 23

The present Arrangement shall be submitted to the Regional Committee and to the Franco-Swiss Consultative Commission for Problems of Neighborliness.

Article 24

The present Arrangement shall take effect on the 1st of January 1978.

Done, this 9th of June 1977 in Geneva, Switzerland, and in St-Julien-en-Genevois, Haute-Savoie, France, in two originals.


The State Council of the Republic and Canton of Geneva
The Prefect of Haute-Savoie