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France imposes water restrictions in 55 departments

Fifty-five departments in France have had water restrictions imposed as the drought alert level reaches the second-most severe “orange” in some areas, as July 2020 is declared the third-driest July since 1994.

The restrictions include individual households as well as businesses, and are imposed by government body Propluvia.

An interactive map of the exact departments concerned and their precise levels of alert can be found on the Propluvia website here.

In the driest departments, water use is only allowed for priorities, including “health, national security, drinking water, and hygiene”.

Biodiversity office l’Office de la Biodiversité is tasked with monitoring and enforcing whether the restrictions are being respected.

This especially includes lawns and stadium sports fields, which cannot be watered between 8h and 20h.

In the Savoie (Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes) department particularly, one scientific expert told news service France 3: “The water has really reached a low point, and the water will soon reach critical levels.”

Surface levels of water remain low due to a very dry July, forecaster Météo France said. Figures show that for the first two weeks of the month, the national water deficit reached 68%.

It was even higher in some areas; Poitou-Charentes (95%), Ile-de-France (89%), Champagne-Ardenne (83%), Pays de la Loire (83%) and Limousin (82%).

July 2020 has so far been the third-driest July with just 10 millimetres of rain on average. This puts it behind only July 2015, and July 1994.

Paris has seen just two millimetres of rain this month compared to an average monthly amount of 65 millimetres, while Lille has seen just eight millimeters compared to a average of 68.

Farmers across France are raising the alarm, especially in Saône-et-Loire (Bourgogne-Franche-Comté), where the situation is “dramatic” said weather website Tameteo. If it does not rain in the next few days, harvests could be badly affected, farmers said. 

One vegetable producer, Jérôme Godu, in the Vienne department (Nouvelle-Aquitaine) told France 3: “We are limited in the amount of water [we can use]; we have to reuse water on the most important crops, and the others just cannot be watered.”

Related stories

France on red alert for allergies until end of July

Summer 2020 in France to be hotter than normal

New map: Risk of summer drought in France

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