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ENVIRONMENT

MAP: Where in France has water restrictions in place

As more parts of France go officially into a drought state there are now 68 départements that have brought in water restrictions.

MAP: Where in France has water restrictions in place
Photo: AFP

The French environment ministry has updated its drought map which shows that as of August 3rd, 68 French départements have some form of water restriction in place.

This summer is forecast to be another exceptionally long, hot and dry one and in many areas groundwater levels are low.

The Environment Ministry’s Propluvia map shows the restrictions in detail, as many départements have water restrictions in only some areas.

There are three levels of water restriction in place.

If you live in a yellow zone then this means restrictions will be in place at certain times over watering the garden or washing the car. Golf courses and public green spaces such as parks will have restrictions at certain times and farmers have water restrictions in place up to three days a week.

If you live in an orange zone farmers will face restrictions for at least half of the week, while car washing and garden watering are subject to strict controls -including a total ban – at all times, along with water golf courses or parks.

If you live in a red zone water use is only allowed for priority reasons – drinking, health reasons or civil security reasons while farmers also face bans on use.

For an interactive version of this Propluvia map, click here

The exact nature of the restrictions is decided at préfecture level, so if you live in a département with restrictions in place, head to your local préfecture’s website to find out exactly what you can and cannot do.

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CLIMATE CRISIS

Scorching summer was France’s second hottest on record

Three heatwaves since June produced France's second-hottest summer since records began in 1900, the Météo France weather service said on Tuesday, warning that scorching temperatures will be increasingly common as the climate crisis intensifies.

Scorching summer was France's second hottest on record

With 33 days of extreme heat overall, average temperatures for June, July and August were 2.3C above normal for the period of 1991-2020.

It was surpassed only by the 2003 heatwave that caught much of France unprepared for prolonged scorching conditions, leading to nearly 15,000 heat-related deaths, mainly among the elderly.

Data is not yet available for heat-related deaths this summer, but it is likely to be significantly lower than 15,000 thanks to preventative measures taken by local and national authorities. 

Most experts attribute the rising temperatures to the climate crisis, with Météo France noting that over the past eight summers in France, six have been among the 10-hottest ever.

By 2050, “we expect that around half of summer seasons will be at comparable temperatures, if not higher,” even if greenhouse gas emissions are contained, the agency’s research director Samuel Morin said at a press conference.

The heat helped drive a series of wildfires across France this summer, in particular a huge blaze in the southwest that burned for more than a month and blackened 20,000 hectares. 

Unusually, wildfires also broke out even in the normally cooler north of the country, and in total an area five times the size of Paris burned over the summer. 

Adding to the misery was a record drought that required widespread limits on water use, with July the driest month since 1961 – many areas still have water restrictions in place.

MAP: Where in France are there water restrictions and what do they mean?

Forecasters have also warned that autumn storms around the Mediterranean – a regular event as air temperatures cool – will be unusually intense this year because of the very high summer temperatures. A storm that hit the island of Corsica in mid August claimed six lives. 

“The summer we’ve just been through is a powerful call to order,” Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne said on Monday, laying out her priorities for an “ecological planning” programme to guide France’s efforts against climate change.

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