Fears of water scarcity and widespread drought mount in France

drought france

As the record dry spell continues and fears mount of what a drought in France this summer will bring, local authorities in the French Riviera are taking anticipatory measures concerning water usage. 

As France approaches 40 days with little appreciable rainfall, meaning less than one millimetre a day, the French government and local authorities are taking matters to hand.  

Christophe Béchu, the Minister of Ecological Transition, will meet on Monday with the prefects who coordinate the seven biggest water basins in France so they can begin to plan for the “problems of water scarcity” that most regions will be confronted with this summer. A follow-up with all prefects will be held on 6th March.  

His early advice is to take water-saving actions now to anticipate the future shortages. Four departments, including the Var, are already under water restriction conditions and the situation is expected to intensify.  

“The situation is more serious than this time last year and we are two months late in recharging groundwater,” said Béchu, adding that France “will have between 10% and 40% less water available” in the years to come.  

In Fayence, in the Var, the authorities have pre-empted trouble to an extent by halting all new building permit applications for four years, noting that they already do not have sufficient groundwater supplies to take care of the current population.  

Winter is usually when France’s water table is stocked up, so this lack of rainfall, following by what many expect to be a particularly hot and dry summer, is cause for alarm.  

Last year, the World Weather Attribution Service said that drought in the Northern Hemisphere was at least 20 times more likely now due to climate change. They went on to warn that such extreme dry periods would become increasingly common with global warming. 


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Photo source: Christine Sandu for Unsplash