BRL, initially "Compagnie Nationale d'Aménagement de la Région du Bas Rhône et du Languedoc" (CNARBRL), was created 60 years ago on 3rd February 1955 by government decree. It was a trading company but with majority public sector shareholding (the local authorities).
Another decree issued in 1956 awarded the company a 75-year concession for the design, construction and operation of water works contributing to the economic development of Languedoc-Roussillon. The construction works were declared of general interest.
BRL has State permission to abstract up to 75 m3/s from the Rhone just upstream of Arles. A 12km feeder channel conveys the water to Aristide Dumont Pumping Station, inaugurated in 1960 by French President, Charles de Gaulle. Nikita Kroutchev and many other foreign heads of state and international financing organisations were later to visit the water works. Aristide Dumont pumping station pumps:
In 1961, a first extension of the decree authorised the construction and operation of Monts d'Orb dam. The dam, situated in the upper Orb River basin, provides irrigation water to the area around Béziers in the Hérault department and drinking water along the coast from Vendres to Gruissan. At about the same time, BRL built Salagou dam for the Hérault Departmental Council to complete the departmental coverage.
In 1977, a second extension of BRL's concession-granting decree was issued: the development of the Lauragais-Audois area, hence the construction of Ganguise dam, a series of irrigation networks and a connection to Montbel dam in the Pyrénées.
In 1993, BRL's articles of association changed. The BRL Group came into being. The parent company centralised the regional development mandate and the activities related to the water infrastructure concessions as well as the functions of the Group's holding company. Three subsidiary companies were set up to run the different business activities:BRL Exploitation, BRL Ingénierie, BRL Espaces Naturels.
In February 2008, with the second stage of the decentralisation process, the water infrastructure placed under BRL's asset management responsibility was transferred by the central French government to the Languedoc-Roussillon Regional Council. The Regional Council was from now on the concession grantor of the water system with the firm intention of developing it to meet all the local demands for water.
In 2009, the Group holding company changed its name. What used to be the Compagnie Nationale d'Aménagement de la Région du Bas Rhône et du Languedoc became BRL.
In January 2010, an addendum was signed to update the initial provisions of the concession agreement, amending the area concerned and prolonging its term to cover the extension of the Regional Water System. The term of the BRL concession agreement is now 2051.
In September 2011, the Languedoc-Roussillon Regional Council created the Regional Public Water Service, in which BRL and the Regional Water System are core elements. In November, BRL, the BRL Group parent company, became a local public- and private-owned company.
In April 2012, as a result of public debate, the Regional Council launched Aqua Domitia, a vast extension for the Regional Water System. BRL is the asset manager in charge of this project worth €200 million, the largest of its kind ever carried out in France.
In June 2013, BRL's Vision 2017 strategy was adopted. It establishes the main lines for Group development broken down by segment of activity within each of its companies. In addition, the Regional Council and other local stakeholders placed BRL in charge of bringing another 4000 hectares of land under irrigation in the Languedoc-Roussillon region.
In June 2014, BRL raised €7 million to increase its corporate capital and finance Group development.
Philippe Lamour, lawyer, writer and farmer, was one of the men who worked with Jean Monet just after World War II. During the 5th Republic, he was Chairman of the Supreme Council for Construction then of the National Commission for Land-Use Management. As such, he made a decisive contribution to land-use management policy
Aware of the paradox between a Languedoc-Roussillon where economic growth was curbed by recurrent seasonal drought despite the presence of the Rhone –one of Europe's greatest rivers– he instigated an innovative programme to foster regional economic development thanks to better control of water and water management. To implement this ambitious project, he founded Compagnie Nationale d'Aménagement de la Région du Bas Rhône Languedoc (BRL) in 1955, where he held the reins as Chairman of the Board until 1974.
From 1974 until he died, in 1992, he continued to preside over the Economic and Social Committee of Languedoc-Roussillon.