A mayor in France has increased the cost of water in his town over the summer as a way of encouraging locals to reduce their consumption.
Jérôme Viaud, mayor of Grasse (Alpes-Maritimes), has decided to raise the cost of water in the hotter months and decrease it over the winter.
He has termed it “differentiated pricing”.
For average users, the price rise will even itself out, increasing by 20% (compared to the standard price) in summer and dropping by the same percentage in winter.
For example, a couple with two children who currently pay €0.80 per metre cube, will now pay €1 per metre cube from June to September. The rate will then drop to €0.60 per metre cube from October to May.
For large consumers, the bill will rise to €1.70 per metre cube, up from €1.40 currently, and down to €1.30 in the winter.
Mr Viaud said: “We will raise awareness among each of the inhabitants to drop consumption during the most crucial and difficult periods.”
Around 50 families in the town will also take part in voluntary coaching and experiments into how they can reduce their water usage.
The measure is particularly needed in Grasse, the mayor said, as the Foulon canal that supplies the town is almost dry.
Grasse has been on drought alert for a month, as has the wider department.
Mr Viaud said: “It’s about sending an urgent message to change how people use water. Too many people aren’t aware of, or reject, climate change. How can we explain that the lake level at Saint-Cassien has dropped by two metres compared to normal this year?”
Marc Flocon, the technical manager for the town’s water, said: “We have not managed to reconstitute our [water] reserves during the winter period.”
Grasse is now being forced to buy water from elsewhere, and authorities say they fear a greater shortage come high summer.
Other towns in the area have taken measures to limit water usage.
For example, Caussols has introduced a ban on any new vegetable growers, in a bid to limit water use by farmers.
It comes as much of France is on drought alert, and many communes are already subject to water use restrictions.
The country also launched a plan to encourage people to reduce water use, and the government has announced a similar list of measures designed to reduce usage among individuals, farmers, and manufacturers.