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Drought alert and water restrictions already in Nord

The Nord department has already been placed on alert for drought until the end of June at least, with significant water restrictions imposed.

All areas of the department are affected, except for the Delta de l’Aa. The drought has been attributed to a lack of rainfall in the region over the winter.

In response, significant water restrictions have been imposed from now until June 30, 2019. Normally, restrictions would only be in place from about July or August.

These now include a ban on washing private cars; and on watering gardens, lawns, sports turfs, stadia or golf ranges between the hours of 9h-19h.

Individuals are also asked to take shorter showers, to turn off taps while cleaning teeth and other daily bathroom habits, and to not run washing machine or dishwasher cycles on half-empty loads.

Similarly, there are restrictions on the use of water in farming and agriculture, and companies will be asked to save 10% on their usual water use. Public fountains will also be closed.

 In a press release, local authorities said: “The winter period is normally a time for the refilling of groundwater tables, which usually ends in Spring. However, the 2018-2019 winter had 20% less rain than normal. There is therefore not enough rainwater in the water table to bring it up to a normal springtime level.”

It added: “The month of February was particularly dry and sunny, and saw very mild temperatures. The rainfall for the month of March stayed insufficient to catch up with the accumulated deficit.”

Department head Michel Lalande referenced the Torrent d’Esnes river, which is currently totally dry - a very rare occurrence for this time of year.

The lower water level has also raised the risk of pollution, the department said, because “pollutants thrown into the river are more concentrated”, raising “the risk of a lack of oxygen and a rise in water temperature, putting aquatic ecosystems in danger”.

The Nord could impose even more severe water restrictions, should it become necessary in the coming months, it added.

Mr Lalande said: “We may restrict water usage even more, especially in the areas of industrial and private use. Agriculture only represents 1.8% of water use. 70-75% is individual use and family use.”

The Nord department is not the only area to be affected.

Pas-de-Calais commissioner Fabien Sudry has also placed that department on early drought alert, after it suffered a similar lack of rainfall.

There are currently no official restrictions in place in Pas-de-Calais, but Mr Sudry called on individuals to “reduce any unnecessary use of water to avoid draining the water source, which is our common heritage and precious for all users”.

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