May 2024 MAP: Where are water restrictions in place in France?

One department is on crisis level and three others have areas on high alert

Broken tap of drinking water in French village with inset map of areas with drought restrictions
Areas in crisis can ban all use of water except for reasons of health, safety, drinking and hygiene
Published Last updated

Four departments of France are facing water restrictions, with high alerts in areas of three and one placed at crisis level. We look at what these alert levels mean and the areas affected.

The relatively wet winter and spring has replenished the water tables around much of France, with 65% above their average annual levels on May 1, 2024, data from the French geological survey shows. 

Despite this, the departments of Ain, Pyrénées-Orientales, Aude and Hérault are facing water restrictions already. 

Read more: See where water tables in France have refilled the most 

What are the water restrictions in France?

There are essentially four levels of water restrictions that can be applied by the department:

  • Monitoring - launches information campaigns for the general public

  • Alert - reduces agricultural use by 50% (or banned three days per week), restrictions placed on recreational use, including filling or topping-up swimming pools and watering golf courses, watering gardens and washing cars 

  • High alert - further limits agricultural use, recreational use and bans some activities in certain contexts

  • Crisis - bans all use except for reasons of health, safety, drinking and hygiene

These restrictions apply primarily to drinking water from the tap. People who use water from a well or a spring (considered ‘subterranean water’) can also be subject to restrictions, as can those who draw water from rivers (‘surface water’).

Read more: What are the rules for collecting and using rainwater in France 

The areas with drinking water restrictions tend to place limits on subterranean and surface water too. However, these areas do not necessarily coincide entirely.

To check on the local restrictions in your area, visit the website of France’s official water monitoring authority, Vigieau, here.