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Water restrictions imposed early

Levels in the Hérault are so low that authorities have imposed restrictions three months earlier than normal

WATER levels in the Hérault are so low that authorities have imposed restrictions three months earlier than normal.

Announcing the restrictions, prefect Pierre de Bousquet said: "We are only at the end of May and have three months before of the usual drought observed in August.

“Without being dramatic, the situation is worrying ."

Since last August, rainfall on the Hérault plain has been 50% down on normal levels, the director of Météo France Montpellier, Roland Mazury, told France 3.

Residents of the department are used to water restrictions, but not so early in the summer. They are more usually imposed in place in August.

But the lack of autumn and spring rain this year has been made worse because the region suffered drought conditions a year earlier.

It is the first time since 1959 that the Hérault has suffered two consecutive years of drought. The department is the only one in France to suffer a chronic water shortage.

In Aniane, authorities are bringing in water supplies by tanker, and test drilling is taking place to find out if old wells can be reopened - but the town’s deputy mayor admitted that any efforts “may not be enough”.

Areas affected by the drought are subject to the following restrictions:

Banned: The filling of private swimming pools, washing vehicles outside professional stations, operating non-recyclatory fountains

Watering sports fields, golf courses, gardens, lawns and public and private green spaces is prohibited between 8am and 8pm

Businesses that requires the use of water should limit their consumption and comply with provisions concerning drought

Stronger restrictions, including a complete ban on watering sports fields, golf courses, gardens and laws; a ban on watering agricultural land between 11am and 8pm; and a ban on beach showers and road cleaning are in place in certain areas.

Authorities in the neighbouring Gard and Aude departments are monitoring the situation.

Photo: Jeremy Atkinson

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