Red drought alerts in place in 24 departments

In total, 131 local decrees, which restrict water use in particular areas, have been issued in 70 departments

Red 'crisis' drought alerts are in place in areas of 24 departments across France, according to the government's Propluvia website.

In total, 131 local decrees, which restrict water use in particular areas, have been issued in 70 departments.

And those figures looks set to rise further, with much of France due to experience a heatwave next week. For example, Paris has had no rain since June 21 and is experiencing its longest dry spell since 1873, according to Météo-France.

On Tuesday, the prefect of Dordogne called on individuals and communities in the department to be 'civic-minded' by cutting down on filling swimming pools, washing cars or watering gardens.

The call came after authorities issued a 'red' water restriction decree for agricultural use in parts of the south of the department, which came into effect on Friday, July 19, at 8am.

France has four levels of drought alert.

Propluvia map indicating the highest drought alert levels by department

Level one (grey) urges the public to consider their water use and urges them to cut down where possible.

A level two (yellow) 'alert' cuts the amount of water farmers can use by 50% and prohibits activities such as watering gardens, green spaces, golf courses, washing cars between 10h and 20h daily.

A level three (orange) 'enhanced alert' imposes more stringent limits on farmers and prohibits watering gardens, green spaces, golf courses or car washing.

Level four - the highest level - is the red 'crisis' alert and bans all non-priority uses, including agriculture. Where these decrees have been issued, water can only be used for drinking, sanitation and public health.

Some municipalities may also issue their own restrictions on water use.

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