It's winter in France - and still bone dry. With 32 days without precipitation, France's negative record was broken in February. It was the longest dry spell since records began in 1959, according to the meteorological service "Meteo France". Now the government of President Emmanuel Macron wants to present a national water plan. "The days of overabundance are over," Macron said at an agricultural fair on Sunday. There are a few possible adjustments.
France actually benefits from a high groundwater level. However, the water reserves are limited due to the climate crisis, the past hot summer and the current drought. In the summer of 2022, some nuclear power plants were temporarily shut down due to the lack of water. Whole villages were dependent on water being delivered by truck. The ground is still so dry that there were forest fires in the Pyrenees in February. 60 hectares of vegetation burned down, writes the "Deutsche Welle" among others.
In addition, there are almost wasteful structures in the country. According to Environment Minister Christophe Béchu, France loses a fifth of its drinking water through dilapidated pipes alone. In addition, compared to other European countries, too little water is treated. Less than one percent of the wastewater is reused. For example, toilets are currently not allowed to be flushed with rainwater.
Some departments have now drawn conclusions even before President Macron officially presented the emergency measures. On the southern French coast, watering green spaces such as gardens or sports stadiums has been banned in some places. Filling private swimming pools or washing cars was also banned in some cases. Understandable in summer, these are unusual restrictions for this time of year.
Other communities in southern France, such as Callain near Nice, have banned the construction of new swimming pools for five years to save water. And in surrounding communities like Montauroux, the mayor no longer wants to issue building permits for fear of not being able to supply the newcomers with water. The mayor, Jean-Yves Huet, told the "France Info" broadcaster: "It's better if we tell people not to build in the first place than that we can't supply them with water in the end."
In view of this water crisis, President Macron would do well to present his emergency measures soon.
Sources: Meteo France, "Deutsche Welle", "Washington Post", habitat water, "ORF"