Summer rain has not helped France’s low groundwater levels - minister

More than 30 departments are also on crisis alert for drought

More and more communes are facing severe water shortages
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More than 70% of France’s groundwater reservoirs are below normal levels for the season, according to the French government.

Despite summer downpours in some parts, water levels were not filled as the rain did penetrate below the soil.

Summer rainfalls “water the vegetation,” said Christophe Béchu, France’s minister for the ecological transition.

"We need rain above all during the autumn and winter to recharge the water tables properly,” he added.

France saw a record winter drought this year, going more than a month without rain.

In part caused by the lack of groundwater, an increasing number of communes are finding themselves entirely without water, needing to ship it in from elsewhere.

Contrasting situation across France

In total, 72% of groundwater tables are lower than their expected seasonal norms, said Mr Béchu, adding the “data is comparable to last year at the same time”.

The number is slightly higher than in July, where 68% were at below-average levels.

The situation, however, is “very contrasted” depending on where the groundwater tables are located, he added.

“The situation is generally better in the west of France, particularly in Brittany and part of Aquitaine,” said the Minister.

“But on the other hand the situation is more worrying, with historically low levels in the Rhône and Saône valleys,” he added.

Below is a map of groundwater levels across France, showing the regional differences in water reserves:

Credit: VisActu

Nearly 100 communes without water

In some areas, the groundwater has been completely used up.

There are currently 85 communes without any running water, which is “around ten more than a week ago,” said the minister.

Out of these communes, 67 are being supplied with water via a tanker, and 18 more by bottled water.

By the end of last summer, almost 1,000 communes were being supplied with additional water after groundwater levels became too low.

Whilst the communes are spread throughout France, they are primarily situated in the south, with the departments of Alpes-Maritimes, Dordogne, Hérault, Pyrénées-Orientales and Var seeing a number of municipalities with shortages.

The east is also affected, particularly in the Doubs and Vosges departments.

There are now 32 departments where at least one commune is on a “crisis” alert – the highest possible – for water shortages.

There are 20 more where at least one commune is on a “reinforced” level.

This means there are restrictions on actions such as watering your car or garden and filling swimming pools.

Below is an up to date map of communes facing water restrictions due to their drought level:

Credit: VisActu

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