Fines are now being issued systematically in parts of south-west France to people who do not respect the water restrictions in place due to the ongoing drought conditions.
The Tarn-et-Garonne (Occitanie) prefecture has issued a statement explaining its decision.
It reads: "To deal with this situation, water use restrictions have been in place in the department since the beginning of June, and were then strengthened at the end of July... With the return of hot, dry weather, the drought trend is continuing and is set to worsen by the end of August.”
The prefect is calling for people to be aware of their “civic duty” and responsibilities and said that three quarters of water stocks have already been used. Such a low level of stocks has never happened before so soon in the season, the prefect said.
So far, 32 communities and five golf courses in the department have been fined.
Tarn-et-Garonne is not the only department to have stepped up water restrictions in the Occitanie region.
Drinking water restrictions have been increased in Ariège and Aveyron, and it is now banned to water your lawn, refill swimming pools, wash cars, patios or roadsides, and vegetable patches can only be watered in the hours between 20:00 and 08:00.
Public fountains are also banned from operating.
It comes as much of France is continuing to face drought conditions. An MP for green party Europe Écologie les Verts (EELV) has suggested that private swimming pools should potentially be banned as a last resort during such severe conditions.
There are over three million private swimming pools in France, the most of any country in Europe and the second most in the world after the US.
The majority of departments in mainland France are facing crisis-level drought conditions, with water restrictions of some kind in place everywhere.
La France connait une période de #sécheresse intense qui touche désormais tout le territoire et qui a de graves conséquences sur nos écosystèmes, mais aussi sur les activités humaines.— Ministères Écologie Énergie Territoires (@Ecologie_Gouv) August 5, 2022
Préserver nos ressources en eau est crucial : ayons tous les bons réflexes