Drought hits majority of departments

81 departments have been at least partially affected by drought and 68 departments are now subject to water restrictions, up from 42 in June. The lack of rainfall since September 2016 is the main cause

22 July 2017
By Carmen Cracknell

Propluvia, a Ministry of Agriculture website that monitors drought levels, has released a map showing water restrictions in each department.

Those marked grey simply recommend conserving water. Yellow indicates a state of ‘alert’, meaning watering the lawn and washing the car is prohibited at certain times. The orange ‘strong alert’ means no watering of any green spaces. Red indicates ‘crisis’ levels, meaning water should only be used for drinking or for essentials such as health and sanitation.

One interactive map shows how drought has spread since spring. Another shows an alarming increase in drought levels since 2012.

A Bureau of Geological and Mining Research (BRGM) map released on July 1 showed critically low water levels in some areas of France including the Grand Est and the Rhône-Alpes.

But hydrogeologist and head of water data evaluation at BRGM, Laurence Gourcy, said: “We cannot really tell whether restricting water use is making a difference because it is difficult to measure water levels in aquifers”.

This year’s drought may however not be as severe as some in the past. BRGM hydrogeologist Philippe Vigouroux says: “The situation in 2003 was harder, and summer 2011 was also very dry. Sometimes, dry periods are compensated by periods of strong rain which make up for the preceding low rainfall”. 

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