Recent rains not enough to replenish PACA groundwater tables

Despite substantial rainfall in late spring and early summer, the groundwater levels in many parts of the south of France remain well below normal levels, and the situation will only be exacerbated further as summer heat sets in.  

At a press conference earlier this week, France’s Minister for Ecological Transition, Christophe Béchu, revealed that the heavy rains experienced in recent months have not normalised the groundwater levels in two-thirds of the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur (PACA) region’s water tables.  

“Since last summer, the water tables have not recharged,” he said. “68% of the water tables are sub-normal for the season.”  

These numbers were confirmed by the Geological and Mining Research Bureau (BRGM), who said that from the start of April to the end of June, the level changes had been slight in some cases and deteriorated in others.  


The usual springtime rains, which go a long way in keeping the water tables at good levels, simply came too late this year to make a real difference.  

Much of the soils in the south are so dry that any precipitation was unable to properly sink in, leaving precious supplies to run off into storm drains and the sea.  


Whilst some places have a paucity of water, others are in good shape, making for a real mixed bag in the region.  

The Direction Régionale de l’Environnement (DREAL) published a report on 11th July stating the total rainfall for the first half of June reached 300% to 400% more than normal in Val de Durance, Provence, while other parts of PACA saw as little as 20mm of precipitation.  

Snow melt is now complete, and even after the storms, river flow levels in the Alpes-Maritimes are still on the low side. Then there are the Giscle river in Cogolin and the Natuby in Trans-en-Provence, which are almost dry. 

This contrasts dramatically with other regional rivers, such as the Meyreuil sur l’Arc, Châteauvert sur l’Argens, and Mormoiron sur l’Auzon, which are recording higher than average flows.  


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Photo source: Yan Berthemy, Unsplash