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70 French departments still have top level drought alert despite rain

Brittany is particularly affected with an environmental organisation warning that ‘the worst is still to come’. Some areas face drinking water shortages

Many French departments still have varying degrees of water restrictions in place following severe droughts this summer Pic: Melanie Hobson / Shutterstock

Up to 70 departments in France still have the top level of drought alert in place in all or some areas following a summer marked by notable heatwaves and droughts. 

The water restrictions are decided by the prefects of each department and apply to a select area for a determined period of time. 

Read more: Drought map: See what water restrictions apply in your department

The restrictions are more or less strict depending on the seriousness of the situation. 

There are four levels of drought alert in France:

  • Code 1 - warning (vigilance)
  • Code 2 - alert (alerte)
  • Code 3 - heightened alert (alerte renforcée)
  • Code 4 - crisis (crise

Departments normally have a general alert level but this can vary between communes, meaning that one town may be on Code 1 and the neighbouring town on Code 2. 

Read more: Vigilance, alert, crisis: what France’s four drought warnings mean

Currently, 70 departments have at least some areas with Code four restrictions. 

The map below shows the different levels of drought alerts across France métropolitaine.

Credit: Screenshot / Propluvia http://propluvia.developpement-durable.gouv.fr/propluvia/faces/index.jsp 

Read more: Rainwater, wells: eight questions about water restrictions in France

The map shows that the water situation in the west of the country, particularly in Brittany, is critical. 

The prefecture of the Côtes-d'Armor warned on Tuesday (September 27) of the potential that people will have trouble accessing drinking water in October. 

“It looks like we will have about 45 days’ worth of water stored up whereas normally at this time of year we would have 90 days’ worth,” Stéphane Rouvé, prefect of Côtes-d'Armor, told France 3. 

Environmental organisation Eaux et Rivières de Bretagne also sounded the alarm, stating on September 27 that “the real difficulties are still ahead of us”. 

There should be rain over Brittany in the coming days but this is unlikely to be enough to compensate for the weeks and months of drought. In Côtes-d'Armor, another dry spell is expected soon. 

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