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EXPLAINED: How to check water restrictions in your area of France

The Local France
The Local France - [email protected]
EXPLAINED: How to check water restrictions in your area of France
Water comes out of a hose pipe as a person waters his garden (Photo by FRANCK FIFE / AFP)

A new website makes it easier to check restrictions on watering the garden, washing the car and filling the swimming pool in communes across France.

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France has a fairly confusing patchwork of restrictions in place on water usage.

Some parts of the country are already on drought alert, and with forecasters predicting another hot and dry summer it's highly likely that restrictions will be extended as the summer goes on.

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Water restrictions are done on a commune level, meaning different towns and villages in the same département frequently have different rules.

The government has a website called Propluvia which lists all the different restrictions in place - however the site is clunky, unreliable, hard to search and relies on people knowing what the different 'alert' levels mean.

But in good news a new site - VigiEau - has been launched which allows you to simply enter your postcode and get an up-to-date list of the restrictions in place in your area. 

First head to VigiEau.gouv.fr, type your postcode into the search bar and select your commune from the dropdown menu.

You will then be told what the situation is in your commune - no alert, vigilence, alert (yellow), alert renforcée (orange) or crise (red).

Scroll down, and the site then tells you what these statuses mean for your daily life.

Screenshot: Vigieau.gouv.fr

They are divided into;

  • arroser (watering green spaces, usually gardens or golf courses)
  • remplir ou vidanger (fill or drain, referring to swimming pools)
  • nettoyer (cleaning of external items such as car-washing),
  • alimeter des fontaines (supply of fountains, mostly geared at local authorities unless you live in Versailles or similar palace)
  • effectuer des traveaux (carry out works, again mostly geared at local authorities)
  • prélever (withdrawals from water-courses, mostly for local authorities but if you have a private water source on your property such as a well this may also be covered

Click on each section to get the list of restrictions under that particular topic, for example the gardening section might forbid the watering of a garden between 11am and 6pm. 

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If a section doesn't appear, or comes up blank, then it means there are no restrictions on that type of activity in your area.

The site also gives some general water-saving tips. 

If you are in an area where red-level water restrictions apply, the website may encourage you to check if additional rules are in place aside from the ones listed above.

In this case, a small box below may read: Certaines restrictions peuvent avoir fait l'objet de précisions. Pour le vérifier, merci de consulter l'arrêté de restriction (Some restrictions may have more location-specific details.To check, please consult the restriction order.)

Then, it will give you the option to see the rules officially published by the préfecture for that area and it will encourage you to contact your local town hall to be certain that there are no other restrictions in place.

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