Tap water fees for homes to be seasonal in Toulouse

The ‘innovative’ measure will see prices rise 42% in summer; critics say it is unfair

The Pont Neuf In Toulouse on a sunny summer day
The Garonne river in Toulouse hit record low levels in summer 2023
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The cost of tap water is to change seasonally in Toulouse (Haute-Garonne, Occitanie) in a bid to help save water, with prices in summer up to 42% more expensive than in winter.

For the months of June to October, the city and 36 surrounding communes will be charged 42% more for water usage per metre cubed, compared to the current average annual tariff. In contrast, prices in the winter period (November to May) will be 30% lower.

The changes will affect around 850,000 residents.

The new measure is intended to encourage residents to save water after several summers of drought led to a severe lack of water. Drought has become a more pressing problem across most of France, especially in the hottest months.

Read more: How do I see if any drought rules are affecting my French home? 

"We are pioneers, we are innovative,” said the mayor of Toulouse and chairman of Toulouse Métropole, Jean-Luc Moudenc. “That is what we are about: we are a metropolis of innovation, and we should be innovative on the issue of water resources.”

Unfair for lower-income homes?

But critics have said that the measure will disproportionately affect lower-income homes.

Sophie Boubidi, local councillor for Colomiers and member of the Metropolitan Council, said that opposition groups had argued for the pricing measure to be introduced alongside a “progressive, social and environmental pricing system” that would change according to household incomes.

Read more:  What is France's 'drought' website VigiEau?

“It included free access to the first few cubic metres of water,” she said. “But [the idea] was not retained.”

Summer 2023 was particularly worrying in Toulouse, because the Garonne river - which runs through the city - hit a record low level. Encouragingly so far this year the river has managed to recover and stay at almost-normal levels, reports France Bleu.

Read more:  Wet winter eases France’s water crisis but south logs record drought

As early as February, however, around 40 communes nationwide were already under surveillance due to low water levels threatening the availability of tap water. The Pyrénées-Orientales department is under particular strain.