A hundred municipalities in France have dry taps. The historic drought experienced by France this summer led to the implementation of water restrictions in most of the country, without this preventing shortages. And the situation could happen again in the future, with episodes of heat waves and light rain becoming more frequent due to climate change. It is becoming more and more urgent to adapt.
The situation is becoming increasingly tense on the drought front in France. July was one of the driest months on record and the situation is likely to persist. Météo France is not announcing significant rain for several days, but is already predicting the arrival of a fourth heat wave in France around August 10. The consequences are getting harder and harder in some places. “More than a hundred municipalities in France today no longer have drinking water“, announced Christophe Béchu, the Minister of Ecological Transition, during a trip to the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence.
The Minister for Ecological Transition explains that, in these municipalities, supplies “are done with drinking water trucks that are transported, since there is nothing left in the pipes“. He calls for the tightening of certain water restrictions to prevent this from happening again in other territories. Cities like Saint Malo or regions like Corsica are already anticipating, for their part, a risk of shortage of drinking water. in the next weeks.
An inter-ministerial unit to relay information
A large majority of metropolitan departments are subject to restrictions in the use of water, 62 of them having reached a level of crisis, ie two thirds of the territory. In this context, the government has decided to convene an interministerial unit to deal with this historic drought. This cell aims to regularly report information from the most affected areas, in particular to trigger Orsec “water” plans, which in particular make it possible to organize the supply of drinking water. The regional prefects will also bring together the local authorities in charge of water to discuss the prioritization of uses.
The water cycle is out of order. We are moving towards drastic measures:
Reduction of the national herd
Drastic drop (>30%) in yields (corn, etc.). pic.twitter.com/mk52OFWcN7
— Dr. Serge Zaka (Dr. Zarge) (@SergeZaka) August 4, 2022
Several economic sectors were already directly affected by water restrictions. Starting with farmers, who see a decline in their production and a risk on the production of fodder used to feed livestock. Nuclear power plants must for their part lower their production, because of the low flows of the rivers and their higher temperature than usual because of the successive heat waves. Élisabeth Borne, the Prime Minister, now calls on individuals to be “very vigilant about the use of our water resources“.
A direct consequence of climate change
However, these measures taken as a matter of urgency may not be sufficient in the long term. The unprecedented situation that metropolitan France is experiencing this summer, between the succession of close heat waves and very low rainfall, is a direct consequence of global warming. It could repeat itself in the future, or even increase if greenhouse gas emissions are not drastically reduced. Adapting to these new climatic conditions is therefore becoming increasingly crucial. In an interview given to ProvenceChristophe Béchu declared that “Adaptation is not an option, it is an obligation anyway”. It remains to know the concrete measures.
The European Commission, for example, calls for better reuse of wastewater, particularly in the agricultural sector. Italy, Spain, the Netherlands… France is indeed not the only country affected by drought, 11% of the population of the European Union being subject to water shortages.
Arnaud Dumas with AFP