April 13. 2024. 6:30

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France eyes water restriction during winter drought

France is to adopt a series of water restriction measures and a major water plan, as it currently faces an unprecedented winter drought, Ecological Transition and Territorial Cohesion Minister Christophe Béchu announced in an interview on Wednesday.

Speaking to France Info on Wednesday, Béchu recalled that France was “in a state of alert” after a month without significant rainfall. This is “the driest winter since 1959”, he said.

To avoid “catastrophic situations” this summer, Béchu is calling for measures to be taken, particularly with underground reserves being “two months behind in terms of filling”.

Soft measures are already set to be implemented in March, the minister said, saying these will be discussed by the drought risk anticipation committee Thursday and then among prefects on 27 February.

Though the minister did not give more detail on the content of the measures, they will probably include water restrictions – measures several departments such as the Pyrénées-Orientales, the Var, the Bouches-du-Rhône or the Isère have already adopted. Eighty-seven communes in the Var are also subject to watering restrictions.

On top of that, the government is expected to present a “major water plan” of about 50 measures in the next few days, with measures that will likely focus on the use of wastewater and reducing consumption.

French people must be “made responsible” for their water consumption, said Déchu.

As far as agriculture is concerned, Béchu was reassuring: “There is no agriculture without water. It would be hypocritical to prevent farmers from producing if it is to import.

To avoid the worst for the summer, the minister said, “we need a rainy March. We have two months ahead of us”.

(Hugo Struna | EURACTIV.fr)