Water restrictions are to remain in place in southeast France into November, the Alpes-Maritimes prefecture has announced, as drought conditions continue.
Water levels are still very low after a warm and sunny October so far. Rainfall during August helped to temporarily improve the situation but did not reverse the long-term drought trend.
Forecaster Meteo France is also predicting that the rest of the month of October will be rather warm and dry, over and above the norms for the time of year, which will add further pressure to the water table.
Christophe Cassou, climatologist and director of research at the Centre national de la recherche scientifique (CNRS), said on Twitter that France is currently experiencing a “heat plume”, which is a “transportation of hot and dry air by southern winds”.
The plume is currently spreading over a particularly large geographic area, he said, bringing warm temperatures. Normally, a ‘plume’ is relatively localised but this one is so large that it is now being called a ‘heat plume wave’ over much of the country, he added.
Si l'on se promène sur un cercle de latitude (en magenta) des cotes du Pacifique jusqu'à , voila ce que l'on expérimente, de manière très simplifiée ici sur ce schéma [fait maison].— Christophe Cassou (@cassouman40) October 16, 2022
Hummmm... vous voyez p-e venir pourquoi la plume chaleur de cette semaine est encordée
Based on these predictions, and the current situation, the prefecture confirmed in a decree on October 15 that it would keep water restrictions in place into at least November 15, with a state of alert maintained in all water basins and several areas, including the Siagne, Esteron, Artuby, les Paillons, la Brague and the Cagne.
During an alert or crisis state, restrictions include:
- No watering of green areas at any time, including sports fields
- No water games
- No hose pipe use or car washing
- Aim to reduce water use, such as limiting baths, having short showers, limiting toilet flushes, turning off water when not using it (for example while brushing teeth or washing dishes)
‘Farming calamity’ funds
The continued restrictions come as 11 departments – including Aveyron, Lot, Tarn, and Lozère – are set to benefit from the ‘calamités agricoles (farming calamity)’ fund as a result of the ongoing drought conditions.
The farming risk committee confirmed the aid on Tuesday, October 18, after the Agriculture Ministry identified zones that have already sustained losses that put them at ‘farming calamity’ level.
The departments – Ardèche, Aveyron, Cantal, Drôme, Loire, Haute-Loire, Lot, Lozère, Puy-de-Dôme, Rhône, and Tarn – “may be subject to initial recognition on the basis of a provisional loss rate”, the Comité national de la gestion des risques en agriculture (CNGRA) said in a statement.
Funds will be transferred from the start of November for these prioritised zones, the ministry said. “This major speed-up of funding for the areas most affected by the drought will enable a crucial cash injection for the worst-hit farmers.”
This will help farmers to avoid having to sell livestock due to a lack of feed grown during the summer.
Severe frost compensation
The CNGRA also said that it recognised that there are 27 departments that were affected by a severe late frost in April 2022, whose farmers would also benefit from financial support.
This particularly included farmers in the Garonne valley, Dordogne, north Aquitaine and some areas in Grand Est.
Farmers in these departments will have access to €76.3million in total, mainly for fruit tree farmers, the ministry said.
In addition, 11 departments were recognised as having been affected by hailstorms in May and June and these farmers will receive a total of €1.8million in compensation as a result.