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Rules on using well water during a drought in France

Partner article: We look at what water restrictions are applied to private wells during droughts

A reader asks if private wells are also affected by drought restrictions Pic: guillermo_celano / Shutterstock

Reader question: I read about forthcoming drought alerts and water restrictions. If they ban watering gardens during certain hours, can I continue to do this using water from the well on my property? 

No, well water is subject to the same restrictions on usage as tap water as it comes from the water table, so using it has the same effect on reserves. 

By contrast, you can use rainwater collected in tanks, without restriction, until it runs out. 

Water restrictions in France can vary greatly from one commune to another, with the decree imposing them coming down from the prefecture but applying to individual water basins. 

So it is possible that one commune will have water restrictions from 08:00 to 21:00, while a neighbouring one will have them from 10:00 to 18:00, or even that differing restrictions apply within a commune. 

There are sometimes different bans for different uses. 

For example, watering vegetables may be permitted for a longer period compared to watering lawns, flowerbeds or filling swimming pools. 

Read the official notice on the commune’s noticeboard, and ask if you are unsure. 

France has four levels of drought alert, ranging from grey (a warning to economise water where possible) through to yellow, orange and red, where water can only be used for specific things like hygiene/cooking.

Author: Sarah Bright-Thomas, Bright Avocats. Bright Avocats provides French legal advice.

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