Two-thirds of French groundwater is still below normal levels

Recent rain has been absorbed by the soil and not had an impact on groundwater levels, a government minister explained

Much of the country may experience severe drought in summer 2023, the ecological transition minister has warned, as groundwater levels remain low in most places
Published Last updated

Two-thirds of groundwater in France is still below the normal expected levels, the French government has warned, as the hot summer season ramps up.

Ecological Transition Minister Christophe Béchu said he was “very worried” about current levels, especially the Rhône valley and Mediterranean coast.

Only some areas in the northwest and Nord regions have “high” or “very high” groundwater levels.

“[The deficit] is huge, and unfortunately it's a figure that's in line with what we've experienced in recent months,” Mr Béchu told CNews today (June 14).

“We had a terrible drought last summer, we ended the summer with very low water levels, we didn't get much rain in the autumn, and we had a winter drought.”

See also: Map: The 28 French departments at high risk of drought this summer

Recent rain may not have helped the situation as much as expected.

"Even though it has rained in recent months in quite a few places, the rain that arrives in May or June is not as effective because it is absorbed more by the soil and feeds the water tables less,” the minister said.

Later on Wednesday, the geological research institute le Bureau de recherches géologiques et minières (BRGM) released data revealing that 66% of France’s groundwater levels were below normal levels on June 1.

One month ago, it warned that 68% of water tables in France were at moderately low to very low levels, and said that this could cause a drought “comparable to or even worse than that of 2022”.

Read also: Key questions answered on France’s new drought risk map

The video below shows the BRGM’s new map of the situation, as revealed by the minister, with the legend going from dark blue (very high) to red (very low).

It comes as drought warnings and water restrictions have already been in place across much of France for several months. Warnings of drought in 2023 started in early January and have continued as the situation has worsened in the first half of the year.

Related articles

How bad is the drought in France? See restrictions in your department

How to keep your swimming pool open despite drought in France