France in 'drought crisis'

A quarter of departments put water restrictions in place, as ministry monitors effect on nuclear power stations

16 May 2011

FRANCE'S drought has already reached a “crisis situation”, according to Ecology Minister Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet.

She said yesterday: “All the indicators are orange to red; we are in a July situation as far as all the indicators are concerned, the water table, flow and snow melt.”

A total of 26 departments have already taken water restriction measures and three more will shortly be doing so, the minister said.

They include a large swathe in the west such as Charente, Charente-Maritime, Vendée, Deux-Sèvres, Dordogne, Lot and Gers. See the full picture here: Water measures map

Ms Kosciusko Morizet highlighted the “particular care” that must be given to the functioning of nuclear power stations during hot periods due to the “lessening of the flow of water and increases in temperature, which have an impact on the cooling process of the reactors”.

However she said there were measures in place to cope with this including turning reactors off if they get too hot.

A month earlier than usual, she held a meeting of the “drought committee”, consisting of water experts and interested parties from various fields, to discuss the situation.

It was agreed that from June there will be new more detailed, more regularly-updated maps about water measures. The current ones just show departments affected and are updated once a week.

Photo: © abet -

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