Case study:Reopening of a section of the River Bièvre in an urban environment

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Location: 48° 45' 55", 2° 18' 58"
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Project overview

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Status Complete
Project web site
Themes Flood risk management, Habitat and biodiversity, Hydromorphology, Social benefits, Urban
Country France
Main contact forename Denise
Main contact surname Achache
Main contact user ID
Contact organisation Communauté d'agglomération de la Vallée de la Bièvre
Contact organisation web site
Partner organisations
Parent multi-site project
This is a parent project
encompassing the following
Before and after restoration

Project summary

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Since the 11th century, the River Bièvre and its catchment area has been very heavily modified. Numerous mills were built along its course, which led to the straightening of the river. Increasing urbanisation and the establishment of industrial and craft activities along the Bièvre transformed it into an "open sewer". Starting in the 18th century, the river was gradually culverted. Today, the Bièvre forms a rainwater system. It has become an alternative means of transportation for wastewater when the sewers are out of action.

In the framework of the Bièvre renovation policy, a pilot project in order to reopen the river was carried out, in the "Parc des Près" in Fresnes, a three-hectare area that remained undeveloped.

The former river bed, i.e. the current rainwater system, was retained for use in the event of the sewers being out of action. A meandering stretch of water was created in order to favour the development of aquatic life. Aquatic and semi-aquatic species were planted in several areas. At the same time over twenty direct wastewater connections to the Bièvre were eliminated.

Monitoring surveys and results

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Lessons learnt

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Image gallery

Work in progress on the park in Fresnes in 2003.
The Bièvre reopened in Fresnes park, downstream sector.
The Bièvre between Massy and Verrières prior to reopening in 1999.

Catchment and subcatchment


River basin district Seine-Normandie
River basin Seine


River name Bièvre
Area category 100 - 1000 km²
Area (km2) 200 km²
20,000 ha
Maximum altitude category
Maximum altitude (m)
Dominant geology
Ecoregion Western Plains
Dominant land cover Urban
Waterbody ID


Name Fresnes
WFD water body codes FRHR156B
WFD (national) typology
WFD water body name
Pre-project morphology Culverted
Reference morphology Single channel, meandering
Desired post project morphology
Heavily modified water body Yes
National/international site designation
Local/regional site designations
Protected species present No
Invasive species present No
Species of interest
Dominant hydrology Artificially regulated
Dominant substrate
River corridor land use Urban
Average bankfull channel width category 2 - 5 m
Average bankfull channel width (m) 4
4 m
0.004 km
400 cm
Average bankfull channel depth category
Average bankfull channel depth (m)
Mean discharge category
Mean annual discharge (m3/s) 0.7
0.7 m³/s
700 l/s
Average channel gradient category
Average channel gradient 0.00262
Average unit stream power (W/m2) 4.4965095
4.497 W/m²

Project background

Reach length directly affected (m) 200 m
0.2 km
20,000 cm
Project started
Works started 2002/01/01
Works completed 2003/01/01
Project completed
Total cost category 500 - 1000 k€
Total cost (k€) 520 k€
520,000 €
Benefit to cost ratio
Funding sources Water Agency, Department-level Council, Regional Council

Cost for project phases

Phase cost category cost exact (k€) Lead organisation Contact forename Contact surname
Investigation and design
Stakeholder engagement and communication
Works and works supervision 500 - 1000 k€ 520 k€
520,000 €
Post-project management and maintenance

Reasons for river restoration

Mitigation of a pressure recreation
Hydromorphology complete alteration due to culverting
Biology Absence of biological communities
Physico-chemical Nutrient concentrations, pH, Oxygen balance, Temperature
Other reasons for the project


Structural measures
Bank/bed modifications Deculverting
Floodplain / River corridor Planting
Planform / Channel pattern Re-meandering
Other Elimination of wastewater connections, Creation of a park
Non-structural measures
Management interventions Management of vegetation
Social measures (incl. engagement)


Hydromorphological quality elements

Element When monitored Type of monitoring Control site used Result
Before measures After measures Qualitative Quantitative

Biological quality elements

Element When monitored Type of monitoring Control site used Result
Before measures After measures Qualitative Quantitative
Fish: Species composition Yes Improvement
Invertebrates: Taxonomic composition Yes Improvement
Macrophytes & phytobenthos: Taxonomic composition Yes Improvement

Physico-chemical quality elements

Element When monitored Type of monitoring Control site used Result
Before measures After measures Qualitative Quantitative

Any other monitoring, e.g. social, economic

Element When monitored Type of monitoring Control site used Result
Before measures After measures Qualitative Quantitative
Presentation of project at World Water Forum of Kyoto 2003

Monitoring documents

Additional documents and videos

Additional links and references

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Supplementary Information

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