A battle against drought: Water restrictions implemented across France

Last updated on September 5th, 2018

France drought is making the headlines, recently. Owing to which, the local authorities have been taking measures to fight the water shortages across large parts of the country.

The board of geological research (BRGM) assessed that 74 per cent of the underground reservoirs are containing “moderately low to very low” water levels. In order to avoid these sinking levels, lower regional authorities have been putting restrictions on water levels in place.

From July 20, water usage in 68 departments of the country has been restricted. These localities have adopted at least one method of reducing water usage. Besides, nearly 179 local orders are in place regarding the limited use of water.

The government website presents a complete list of departments affected. This website is maaged by the ministry of environment and agriculture, called Propluvia.

The site indicates different levels of seriousness, which extends from the most serious level, “Crise” (red) to the lowest level, “Vigilance” (grey). The extreme level is when the water can be used only in a situation of priority, including drinking water, hygiene, and health related reasons, among others. Whereas, on the lowest level, people are instructed to economise their water usage.

Apart from these, the other two warnings are– Second highest “high alert” (orange), and the third highest “alert” (yellow).

The local authorities have taken several actions this week, as France is witnessing a progressively worrying drought situation. These actions have been taken in areas including the northern Pas-de-Calais area and the eastern area of Alsace on the German border.

However, the industrial and agricultural industries have been affected majorly. In the northern Hauts-de-France region, these industries have been directed to reduce their water usage by 10 per cent.

A weather report is published every month by the regional environmental departments, which can be considered by the local authorities for cross-reference.

The orders for drought are put in place for a limited time period and are applicable for a limited area.

“Police de l’eau” are the police officers that each local authority has. They are responsible for ensuring that the drought orders are being observed. Anyone who doesn’t follow the orders can be penalised by these police officers, including a fine of €1,500 which can extend to €3,000 for repeat offences.

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