Snowfall and heavy rains ease pressure on water supplies in southern France

Alpes-Maritimes water

The rains and heavy snowfall experienced in the Alpes-Maritimes over the winter have given local groundwater levels a much-needed top-up, helping to ease fears of another summer of severe water restrictions.  

According to a report put out by Provence Alpes Côte d’Azur authorities in March, there was considerably more precipitation than usual in the region in the first quarter of this year. 

Data recorded by Météo France, the national meteorological service, indicates the same: 1,070mm of rain fell in the region during Q1, noticeably more than the average of 740mm. 

The excess rainfall means that local water tables and watercourses are at higher levels than those seen in the past two years. At the Pont Napoléon III bridge, which crosses the Var River near Nice Côte d’Azur Airport, water levels are currently a full 500mm higher than this time last year.  

The Soil Humidity Index, a tool used to measure the ability of soil to supply moisture to plants, is also reported to be above the norm, and now that spring is here, the snowmelt from the mountains to the north will also positively contribute as the runoff finds its way into the water tables further down the valleys.

Furthermore, the Alpes-Maritimes department has been able to lower its drought action plan level from ‘alert’ to the lower ‘vigilance’ stage, with no current plans to raise it. This contrasts to 2023, when the department was already at alert level by March.  

Despite the optimistic outlook, state authorities remain cautious and are continuing preparations for another excessively hot and dry summer, which is being predicted by researchers from Météo France. As temperatures have been above average for much of April, the prospect seems realistic enough.  

Among the measures being considered for later in the year are restrictions on water usage at local golf courses, which alone could help save 500,000m3 of water, the equivalent of 200 Olympic sized swimming pools. 

Still, the most effective way to prevent water emergencies is the continued watchfulness of the population, with the public being urged to use water responsibly throughout the coming months.  

To read the recent report in full, click here.

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Photo source: Gary Fultz, Unsplash