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Brittany second home owners force Covid-19 water ban

Three communes in Brittany have been forced to impose water restrictions after the mass arrival of second-home owners ahead of the Covid-19 confinement lockdown.

Residents in Pont-Aven, Névez and Trégunc - in Finistère - all received text messages from local authorities on Friday March 20, warning them to limit water use to the “strictly necessary”.

The ban includes watering sports fields and green spaces; cleaning cars and terraces; and refilling swimming pools.

The restrictions were imposed as drinking water usage soared in the communes after the arrival of many second-home owners, just before confinement came into force in France on Tuesday last week.

The communes have struggled to meet water demand as the local water treatment plant in Plessis in Pont-Aven has been operating at limited capacity in recent months, due to ongoing maintenance work.

As a result, only 4,000 cubic metres of water can be treated per day. This would usually be enough for the current low-season usage of 2,800 cubic metres; but is struggling to meet the demands of all the second homes in addition.

Watering green spaces and filling up swimming pools is now banned in the three villages (Photo: Eosdude / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0)

Guy Pagnard, vice-president in charge of water and sanitation at the Concarneau Cornouaille agglomeration community, told news service FranceInfo: “Right now, we have a production capacity equivalent to 50% of the usual norm.

“Normally, we are at 2,800 cubic metres per day across the three villages. [But] confinement and the re-opening of second homes has seen water being used to clean cars, terraces, house facades [and] refill swimming pools…”

As a result, water usage has soared to 3,900 cubic metres per day already - just under the maximum capacity for the water treatment plant, prompting authorities to take out the decree.

This week, on Monday March 23, maintenance work restarted at the water treatment plant (with Covid-19 precautions being taken), but water usage restrictions are still likely to remain in place for at least three more weeks.

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Confinement form links:

  • Main form for individuals and self-employed people: Download
  • Form for salaried workers going to their place of work, to be filled in and signed by the employer: Download
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