Drought causes early closure of France's Canal du Midi

The Local France
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Drought causes early closure of France's Canal du Midi
General view of boats in the marina in Castelnaudary along France's Canal du Midi in 2020 (AFP / REMY GABALDA)

The Canal du Midi - a UNESCO World Heritage site that runs from Toulouse to Sète in southern France - will close early this year due to drought.


After a summer marked by drought warnings across southern France, water levels are still low in many areas, including the lake that feeds France's famous Canal du Midi. 

The Canal will now close on November 6th due to very low water levels, according to Le Figaro.

Typically, the Canal closes during the winter to allow for annual repairs and maintenance work. This was initially scheduled to run from January 2nd to February 24th, but due to drought, it will be pushed up by two months.

The lake that helps to supply the waterway, Lac Saint Ferréol in Revel, near Toulouse, has been integral in recent months for keeping the canal's levels at 1.40 metres, the minimum height for boat travel and crop irrigation.

However, regional media France Bleu Occitanie reported that the water levels in the lake are rapidly falling.

As of late October, Christophe Beltran, the head of the regional service for French waterways told Le Figaro that the Canal had about 10 percent of its reserves - or two to three weeks' worth of water left. In order to save resources, authorities decided to close early for the annual shutdown period.


The early closure of the Canal is also intended to offer more time for a project to bore a tunnel from Ramonville to allow for the backfilling of the waterway.

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

Several parts of southern France, namely in the Aude, Herault and Haute-Garonne départements, remain at the highest level of drought alert in late October. 


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