The south of France is experiencing a drought and as one of the regions with the most swimming pools in the whole country, many owners are concerned about their rights when it comes to filling and topping them up.
Months of low rainfall over the autumn and winter led authorities in the Var and the Alpes-Maritimes to issue drought alerts in February and March respectively. The situation continued to worsen into spring, with a rainfall deficit of 76% in March compared to annual averages recorded by the Alpes-Maritimes and a drop in snowfall of roughly 60% across the region.
Both departments have upped restrictions on water usage and a number of communes have passed into the highest levels of regulation as precipitation and groundwater reserves remain worryingly low.
The vast majority of communes, however, remain in the “alerte” and “alerte renforcée” stages; those preceding the “crise” level of warnings that imposes the strictest restrictions. Still, this means that homeowners and renters with a private pool in their gardens are subject to legally enforceable restrictions when it comes to filling and topping up their pools.
The difference between filling up and topping up
As it stands, the total re-filling of a swimming pool is banned unless a pool has been recently finished and this is the first time it has been filled. In this case, the works must have begun prior to the implementation of the first water restrictions earlier in the year.
Topping up a pool – “mise à niveau” in French – is allowed for the time being.
Should the commune pass into the crisis stage of water restrictions, this will also be banned for private pools unless they are for “collective use”.
Fines of €1,500 could be issued by authorities if households are found to be breaking the rules.
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