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Aquifers emptying in 63% of France

Hard, dry summer leaves two-thirds of aquifers at below-normal levels

NEARLY two-thirds of the aquifers under France are at below-normal levels after the relatively dry summer.

The areas hardest affected are the Paris Basin and the south-west; which have been affected by several years of low rainfall. Water usage restrictions are still in force in 59 departments.

The Bureau de Recherches Géologiques et Minières (BRGM) said the situation was very varied across the country, with regions such as the north-west seeing rainfalls of two to three times the normal while the extreme south had very much reduced rainfall. Corsica has been particularly dry, with its driest August for 40 years, while Haute-Normandie has been the exact opposite.

Alsace, Languedoc-Roussillon and Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur saw significant rain in August – nearly 30% above the normal over the past 40 years – which allowed the aquifers to refill. However, in Beauce, Bas-Dauphiné, Champigny in Ile-de-France and the Garonne basin the much-reduced rainfall has seen aquifers emptying.

The BRGM said that water levels in 17% of the aquifers had risen over the summer, fallen in 67% and were stable in the remaining 16%.

Aquifers causing most concern are the limestone nappe under Beauce, that under the Pays de Gex around Grenoble, the Seine-Normandy basin and the Champigny limestones in the Paris basin.

Aquifer map: BRGM

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