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Drought alerts in France: Here’s what you can do to save water

Drought has hit two thirds of France, with 64 departments currently affected by water restrictions. Here's a look at what you can do to save water and how the low water levels might affect your Christmas celebrations.

Drought alerts in France: Here's what you can do to save water
The dry riverbed of the River Doubs. File photo: AFP

Several parts of the country are on 'crisis' alert (coloured red in the map below), which means that water is restricted to only essential use – drinking water, sanitation and public health usage, with even agricultural use restricted.

Map: Propluvia (Ministère de la Transition Ecologique et Solidaire)

France has four levels of drought alert and a total of 64 departments – around two thirds of the country – currently have warnings in place. 
To check what restrictions are in place where you live, click here.
If you are one of those affected by the restrictions, here are a few ways you can save water. 
Adapt your toilet
The amount of water used to flush a toilet is something most people don't really think about – but every time you flush around seven litres of H2O are used. 
However there is a nifty trick to help you cut down on the amount of water you use per flush – take a bottle and fill it with a few pebbles and water and place it in the toilet tank. By doing this, less water will be needed to fill up the tank meaning less will be used during the flush. 
Just be careful that the bottle isn't touching any of the working parts. 
Many people are used to taking long, leisurely showers but you can save a lot of water by shortening them – even by as little as five minutes. 
You can also buy low-flow shower heads for relatively little money and this will save you a lot of water over time.  
Baths use a lot more water than showers, but if you must have a bath think about sharing it with a loved one (or sharing the water with someone you are just tolerably fond of).
Fix any leaks 
One litre in five is lost in France due to leaks, so it's important to check your house to make sure you aren't wasting water without realising it. 
People are advised to do a thorough check for leaks every so often and to replace the inside parts of your toilet every year or two.
Washing clothes and dishes
Only do full loads of laundry and dirty dishes.
If you wait until the washing machine and dishwasher are full before running them, you can save dozens of litres of water.
Another way to save water is to choose plants that don't need much of it to survive. 
“It is becoming increasingly difficult to maintain very greedy plants, such as busy Lizzies which are now being replaced by begonias,” Jean-Marie Avizard, the chief gardener at Giverny, told Le Parisien. “We must also think mulching to prevent the soil from drying up too quickly.”
Some towns in France are adjusting the kinds of ornamental plants they use with this in mind. For example, Pessac in the Gironde has chosen Mediterranean ornamental plants, reducing the water needed to take care of them by 30 percent.
Speaking of plants, we have some potentially bad news about Christmas… there are some fears in France that the drought could lead to a shortage of Christmas trees this year. 
As government restrictions on water usage are becoming more stringent, the forests of the Vosges mountains are drying up. Around 100,000 cubic meters of fir trees have already died which is the equivalent area of about forty Olympic swimming pools.

Member comments

  1. Water shortage? Well, there’s an annual surprise. There’s been a ‘surprise’ drought or water crisis every year for the last 15years to my knowledge yet we live in a broadly temporate climate with plenty of rain during the wet season. I can only presume that the water shortage is either poor management or economic policy.

  2. Nick-nack. Just come to the Vendee and see how bad it is, in fact don’t, as we need all the water we can get without tourists using it. Even firework displays for the 14th were cancelled because of a risk of fire. Mind you our communne is as bad as they are wasting water watering a bloody football pitch whilst local farmers are cutting back..

  3. Hi Boggy, if you read my comment carefully you’ll see I’m not disputing that its bad, I’m saying that given the climate and geography of this part of the world we shouldn’t have to suffer water shortages, even with climate change

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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.