[Article updated August 5 at 13:30 with comments from France's ecological transition minister.]
France is currently facing a drought crisis with almost every department bringing in some kind of water restriction rules.
Ecological Transition minister Christophe Béchu has said today that more than 100 communes are now without drinking water, and have to depend on lorry deliveries.
"Nous avons un certain nombre de communes où nous avons des inquiétudes en termes d'eau potable. On est déjà à plus d'une centaine de communes en France qui aujourd'hui n'ont plus d'eau potable et pour lesquelles il y a des approvisionnements en camion", annonce le ministre pic.twitter.com/31L5iNRItm— franceinfo (@franceinfo) August 5, 2022
He added: "We are going to have to get used to episodes like this. Adapting is not an option, it is an obligation, no doubt about it."
In Var, southern France, authorities in nine communes have gone further by introducing a daily limit on water usage of between 150 to 200 litres per person.
The decision was taken last week by the mairies of the collection of communes called the Pays de Fayence, made up of the communes:
The average person in France uses around 149 litres of fresh water per day, according to a 2020 study by the Observatoire des services publics d’eau.
But the mairie of Fayence, one of the communes where a limit is in place, admitted that they have been inundated with calls from residents asking what exactly 200 litres of water usage looks like.
The mayor, Bernard Henry, posted a statement on Facebook on July 27 saying that the commune would crack down on people breaking the 200-litre limit.
Those who do break the rules risk a fine of €1,500, rising to €3,000 for repeat offences.
“We are going to step up checks on [people’s] daily or weekly [water] consumption by targeted or random metre readings and we will apply the law and the fine to its full extent,” he wrote.
He said that people caught breaking the limit could have a ‘pastille’ installed in their houses, which is a type of filter that can reduce water flow.
The Mairie of Bagnols-en-Forêt instead took to Facebook to try to give people an idea of how much water each household appliance uses.
They also added a link to an online tool that allows you to make an approximation of your annual water usage, which you can see here.
How much water does each household appliance use?
Around 93% of fresh water in France is used for hygiene or cleaning purposes, the Centre d'information sur l'eau states.
The mairie of Bagnols-en-Forêt said that water for drinking and cooking represents a “negligible” amount of the average person’s water usage.
The average bath uses 175 litres of water, according to French water management company Veolia.
A standard shower uses around 12 to 20 litres per minute, meaning that a three-minute shower could use around 60 litres, while a six-minute shower would use 120 litres.
A bathroom sink uses around 12 litres of water per minute, while flushing the toilet uses between five and 18 litres per flush, depending on the age and efficiency of the model.
The mairie of Bagnols-en-Forêt said that with each person going to the toilet on average four times per day, a family of four could end up using between 50 to 100 litres of water per day just through flushing.
A highly efficient dishwasher will use around 20 litres per cycle, while a less efficient model could use up to 40 litres.
Washing the dishes by hand uses around 12 litres for a person living alone. Washing dishes for a family will use considerably more.
A highly efficient washing machine will use around 60 litres of water per cycle, while a less economic model could use up to 120 litres, according to the Centre d'information de l'eau.
The amount of water needed to maintain a garden obviously varies depending on the size of the garden and the type of vegetation there. Veolia states that the average amount used to water a garden in France is around 540 litres of water.
The mairie of Bagnols-en-Forêt states that a hose uses 1,000 litres per hour.
As for swimming pools, the average pool needs 50,000 litres of water to fill it.
Advice on limiting water consumption
The mairie of Bagnols-en-Forêt offers the following advice to people to reduce their water use.
- Cover your pool to limit evaporation, filter and treat the water regularly to re-use it for several years
- For the vegetable garden, hoe and mulch the soil to a good thickness, shade the area, favour drip irrigation, grow species that do not consume much water, collect rainwater
- Stop the watering of other plants and allow them to manage themselves
- Try to take short showers
- Install a water-efficient flushing system on your toilet
- Regularly check your water metre to see if you are over consuming