France on drought alert as 39 départements impose water restrictions

After record temperatures, France is now battling drought with five areas declaring a 'water crisis' and a further 34 imposing water restrictions.

France on drought alert as 39 départements impose water restrictions
Farmers are facing water restrictions and drought in France. Photo: AFP

The Vendée département has declared a 'crisis' alert, which means that water is restricted to only essential use – drinking water, sanitation and public health usage, with even agricultural use restricted.

“In recent days, the Vendée department has faced very hot weather and no significant precipitation has been observed,” the prefecture told France Info, inviting every resident to “act to control their consumption”.

Map: Propluvia Ministère de la Transition Ecologique et Solidaire

The Loiret, Indre, Allier, Tarn, Lot and Loire-Atlantique départements have also declared a crisis alert while 34 other départements have imposed some form of water restriction.

France has four levels of drought alert.

Level one asks the public to consider their water consumption. Level two 'alert' cuts by 50 percent the among of water farmers can use and prohibits activities such as watering gardens, green spaces, golf courses, washing cars, etc at certain times of day.

Level three 'enhanced alert' imposes limits higher than 50 percent on farmers and prohibits watering gardens, green spaces, golf courses or car washing entirely.

Level four – the highest level – is the 'crisis' alert and bans all non-priority uses, including agriculture. This means water can only be used for drinking water, sanitation and public health uses.

France usually sees some form of water restrictions over the summer months, but experts say this year that water levels are unusually low for this early in the summer.

According to the Bureau of Geological and Mining Research, many groundwater tables in France have “unsatisfactory” and “lower” levels than last year. As of June 1st, 59 percent of the slicks were at a “moderately low to low” level.
This summer, which is expected to be warmer than normal, the public institution expects problems in certain regions (southern Alsace, Burgundy, upstream Rhône) where underground water supplies are close to the minimum levels recorded for a month of May.
To find out what restrictions are in place where you live, click here.

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South west France on red alert for flooding

Five areas in south west France have been placed on a red weather alert for flooding as storms lash the region.

South west France on red alert for flooding
Storms are moving in to south west France over the Pyrenees. Photo: Anne-Christine Poujoulat/AFP

Météo France has placed five départements in south west France – Pyrénées-Atlantiques, Landes, Hautes-Pyrénées, Haute-Garonne and Ariège – on a red weather alert for heavy rains and flooding.

Extremely heavy rainstorms have hit the area, with a band of storm clouds travelling along the Pyrenees, bringing the risk of avalanches in the mountains and flooding in lowland areas.

The neighbouring département of Pyrénées-Orientale is on orange alert, along with the principality of Andorra. In the north, Aisne is also on orange alert for heavy rain.

Heavy rain is expected to continue throughout Monday, gradually easing off towards the evening, although the flood alerts remain in place until Tuesday.