Drought: 12 departments on alert or vigilant by the end of the week
Despite the rains announced in the coming days, the hydrological situation in France remains worrying. Following a meeting with the 100 departmental prefects, the Minister for Ecological Transition, Christophe Béchu, announced on Monday that 12 departments will be placed on alert or on vigilance by the end of the week, i.e. six more than currently.
In addition to the 4 departments already placed on alert or heightened alert on Monday (Ain, Bouches-du-Rhône, Pyrénées-Orientales, and Var) and the two on vigilance (Savoie and Yvelines), the minister indicated that Drôme and Ardèche would also be the subject of alert or heightened alert decrees, and that Sarthe, Vaucluse, Corrèze and Alpes-Maritimes would, for their part, be placed on alert.
Restrictions on certain uses
A week after bringing together the watershed prefects , Christophe Béchu had wanted to bring together the prefects of the department to “remind them of the need to issue decrees without having a shaking hand”. The alert decrees trigger restrictions on certain uses of water, such as the watering of certain green spaces between 9 a.m. and 7 p.m., for example. The objective is to avoid suffering crises similar to those of last year this summer.
“We are a few weeks from the end of the recharging period, and we are everywhere late”, pointed out the minister at the end of the meeting, revealing in passing the situation of groundwater at the BRGM at the end of February. “For 10 days, the only place where the rains have been higher than those of last year is Corsica,” he said.
“We have real hopes in the rains announced for the next few days,” continued the minister. “But we have concerns for the Mediterranean basin and in the Rhone corridor, where there are no significant rainfall forecasts and where the situation is degraded”. According to the BRGM, the water tables at the end of February were in fact low or very low in these two areas.
According to a report published on Monday, Météo France confirmed that the winter we have just experienced was particularly hot and dry. For the fifth consecutive year, “the season was marked by a deficit of precipitation and higher temperatures than normal”, indicates the institute of forecasts, with reference to the period going from 1er December to February 28.
After a record streak of 32 days without rain (less than 1 mm of cumulative average precipitation in France), the precipitation deficit reached 25% over the period. And the average temperature was 0.8°C higher than normal, after two already exceptionally warm years.
As a result, according to Météo France, the soils were as dry at the end of February as they usually are at the end of April. And the situation is all the more worrying as the snow cover is not there, while the snowmelt also helps to feed the rivers. The Minister indicated that he would present “in the coming days” his plan on the water intended to take more structural measures for better water management.