The Canal de Marseille is a major source of drinking water for the city of Marseille, the largest city in Provence, France. The canal's length along its main artery is 80 kilometres - though there is an additional 160 kilometres of minor arteries - and it services the entire district of Marseille. It took fifteen years of construction under the direction of the engineer Franz Mayor de Montricher, and was opened on July 8, 1849. It represents a significant achievement in nineteenth century engineering, combining bridges, tunnels, and reservoirs to create a canal over mountainous terrain. Until 1970, it was almost the sole water source for Marseille and currently provides two-thirds of the city's drinking water.
Marseille, located along the hilly Mediterranean seafront is only crossed by one irregular river, the Huveaune River, and its tributary, the Jarret River. The waters were canalized in the 14th century, but over time became an open sewer. Water quality continued to decline and the distribution suffered due to lack of maintenance on the network.
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