98% enjoy quality tap water: survey

Water quality is improving, a survey has found

But 1.5 million consumers across France are still paying for ‘unclean’ water, consumer watchdog claims

A TOTAL 98% percent of people in France enjoy good-quality tap water, an increase of 280,000 on 2012, a survey has found.

Since the last study of tap water quality in France’s 36,000 towns two years ago, levels of contamination have fallen sharply in towns with more than 5,000 inhabitants, but risen slightly in villages with populations less than 500.

Despite the general improvement, nearly 1.5 million consumers “are still paying for polluted, unclean tap water - mostly those living in small towns,” said Olivier Andrault, of consumer watchdog UFC-Que Choisir.

The study found that the lowest-quality water came from “areas of intensive agriculture, such as the northeast quarter of France”.

Water from agricultural land contained high levels of pesticides and nitrates from fertiliser and livestock manure, along with the chemical selenium, which can be toxic in high doses.

While the quality of France’s tap water is good, the same cannot be said of the groundwater stocks.

Mr Andrault said: “Tap water is good not because the aquifers are in better condition, but because we invest more in pollution control.”

While he agreed with the Common Agricultural Support policy (PAC), which helps develop agriculture, he warned that France could be at risk of sanction by Brussels if more was not done to improve the quality of its groundwater, and comply with EU directives.

Mr Andrault said “consumers, not polluters” bore the financial brunt of agriculturally polluted water, and criticised officials who blocked moves to improve water quality.

UFC-Que Choisir has published an online map, revealing tap water quality levels across France.

Photo: Joe Cheng

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