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French communes still needing water deliveries after summer drought

Mayors in two Nouvelle-Aquitaine communes have called for help as trailer water deliveries continue, months after water levels usually return to normal

A photo of a metal tap dripping to show a lack of water

Two communes in France are still having to rely on transporting water by road due to continuing drought conditions and shortages Pic: VladKK / Shutterstock

Two communes in France still need water to be delivered to them on a farming trailer, as their local reservoir levels remain exceptionally low after drought conditions over the summer.

Ambrugeat and Davignac in Corrèze, Nouvelle-Aquitaine, have been receiving water deliveries on the back of a van, and officials have been required to divert water from one reservoir to another as the basins have been too slow to refill since the summer.

Cédric Neuville, Ambrugeat’s only water company employee, has to make daily trips to a nearby water source to bring enough water to his commune. 

He told France 3: “I have to come every day at the moment, and I’ve been coming since July 18. It has calmed down a little because there are fewer residents and the springs have increased a bit, but before, we had to do this three or four times a day.”

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

Residents in the area are spread over 3,000 hectares across different hamlets. Their water comes from a range of different reservoirs and water networks. Since 2018, a farming trailer has been needed periodically to act as a mobile water tanker, taking water from one source to another, to top up any reserves whose sources are running out. 

However, that the operation is still continuing well into November is unprecedented. Before 2022, water levels in the area would replenish by September at the latest, even after a dry summer. 

Read more: France must manage water better, researchers say after summer droughts 

Now, the mayor of Ambrugeat is calling for the water networks to be connected, so that they can help supply each reservoir when one is lacking.

Michel Saugeras said: “Someone needs to help us because we can’t carry on like this. Look at how much it’s costing. Already our employee is spending his days transporting water, plus the cost of petrol to transport this water, and the time it takes…it’s enormous.”

The neighbouring commune of Davignac is experiencing similar problems. 

It is managing to top up its empty reserves with water sources from further away, but the method is costly and time-consuming. It stops the commune from focusing on other things, says mayor Patrice Barbe.

He said: “I tell you, on September 21, we made five tanker convoys of 2.9m3, and on September 23, we did a further four convoys. It’s a job that we should hire someone to do, but you can’t hire someone just to do this, in these conditions.” 

He is now hoping that winter will be snowy and bring more water, “because if not, I fear the worst for next year”, he said.

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Water conflicts multiply in France as drought restrictions extended 

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