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Ban on swimming pool sales in south of France as drought intensifies

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Ban on swimming pool sales in south of France as drought intensifies
Environment minister Christophe Bechu visits drought-hit areas of France. Photo by RAYMOND ROIG / AFP

With large parts of France already under drought warnings, the environment minister has announced a ban on above-ground swimming pools in parts of the south.

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Environment minister Christophe Béchu announced in a radio interview on Friday morning that he had requested the préfecture in the Pyrénées-Orientales to ban the sale of above-ground pools because of the drought situation in the area.

 

Much of southern France is in the grip of a drought, more severe than any other since 1959, according to regional préfet Rodrigue Furcy.

If people were allowed to purchase pools "they may be tempted to fill them even when it's not allowed", Bechu told the RTL broadcaster.

"On the basis of what's happening with nature, and the situation that we're in, people are going to have to get used to the idea that global warming is happening right now," Bechu said.

The above-ground pools are a popular choice in southern France as not only are they cheaper and easier to install than sunken pools, but most of them don't require planning permission and - depending on their size - may not result in extra property taxes.

READ ALSO Everything you need to know about installing a swimming pool at your French property

The département of Pyrénées-Orientales, on the border with Spain, is already under drought restrictions which include a ban on car-washing and filling private swimming pools.

It is so far the worst-affected area of France, but many other départements have also been placed under drought restrictions or on a 'warning' level, as authorities eye the worryingly low water table.

MAP Which parts of France are under drought restrictions in spring 2023

Béchu also announced the publication "within the next few days" of new drought rules for all parts of France, which may include limits on water use for individuals.

The summer of 2022 saw drought conditions in large parts of France, while in some areas drinking water ran out altogether and authorities had to deliver bottled water to households. Low levels of rainfall over the winter mean that the water tables have not refilled to a sufficient level, meaning that drought could be even worse this summer.

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