Water restrictions now in 73 departments in France

Water pouring out of a hosepipe nozzle
A total of 73 departments are now impacted by the water restrictions, including 26 "in crisis"

Water restrictions are now in place in 73 departments across France, as the drought continues ahead of a new heatwave expected next week.

Of these, 26 are in “crisis”, with all non-priority water use - even for farming - banned. This includes departments such as the Vendée, Indre, Cher, Creuse and Saône-et-Loire.

Others, such as Val-d'Oise, Haute-Vienne, and Yonne, are on high alert, with severe restrictions on the use of water for farming and individual needs.

There are 139 restrictions of water in place across the country. Government website and rainwater monitor Propluvia shows a detailed map of the exact restrictions and alert level per area. The colour key goes from white (no restrictions) to grey (low level alert), to higher alerts yellow and orange.

Red is the most severe "crisis" level, which means a ban on all water use that is not for health or hygiene (such as drinking water and washing).

(http://propluvia.developpement-durable.gouv.fr / Screenshot)

According to the site, the situation has been caused by low groundwater levels over several months, a “drier 2018-2019 winter”, and “a rain deficit since September that is on average at 20% across metropolitan France”.

It said that ground dryness was “particularly severe in the centre of the country”.

Water restrictions for individual households are determined by the level of alert in your area.

Those on yellow alert may see their water activities restricted for certain hours a day - usually from 8h to 20h - up to three days a week; those on orange may be restricted for up to five days a week; and those on red alert will face an almost-total ban on any water not for personal hygiene or drinking.

The precise rules in your area will be published and displayed by the local Mairie, and on your local department website, such as this press release from the Vendée authorities.

Across all departments with restrictions in place, environmental authorities - including from the biodiversity, water, and hunting offices - are permitted to issue legal warnings to those who do not respect the rules.

Guillaume Choisy, general director of public water agency l’Agence de l’Eau Adour-Garonne, which covers 26 départements in the Grand Sud-Ouest, told news network FranceInfo: "Farmers and citizens may receive official warnings [if they break the rules].

"The main mission of the [authorities] is a police mission, with agents who are authorised to issue a warning ticket to a farmer who does not respect irrigation hours, or to an individual who is filling up their swimming pool at the wrong time, or when it is banned."

The new restrictions come as temperatures of over 40°C are expected next week, and the government recently issued warnings on how to avoid starting forest fires when the ground is so dry.

The restrictions apply to (from limitations to total ban, depending on the area):

  • Filling up of private swimming pools
  • Watering your plants, garden, or vegetable patch/allotment
  • Washing your private vehicle at home except in the case of healthcare or food delivery vehicles
  • Washing of roads and pavements except where needed for health or safety reasons
  • Washing of terraces and outdoor spaces
  • Watering of sports fields or lawns (except golf greens)
  • Watering of private sports grounds
  • Use of outdoors “pool” showers

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