Drought: the government wants to deal with any possible crisis this summer
Extremely rare, the winter drought that is hitting France is currently forcing several small towns in the south of the country to have water delivered by tanker truck, due to a lack of sufficient local resources. The month of March is just beginning and some departments are already very thirsty. The precipitation envisaged (for the time being) in the coming days by Météo France will not solve everything, it is underlined in the entourage of Christophe Béchu.
After having last week called the basin coordinator prefects to issue water restriction orders immediately if necessary to avoid possible crisis situations this summer, the Minister for Ecological Transition and the Secretary of State for Ecology, Bérangère Couillard, have therefore decided to bring together this Monday the hundred or so prefects or representatives of department prefects by videoconference. With the same message to convey: “Remind the instructions of the ministers to the prefects not to have a shaking hand to take restrictions now, and anticipate next summer”, explains the minister’s office.
The objective is “to encourage, from the level of vigilance [le premier des quatre niveaux de gravité fixés par l’Etat] to limit the use of water. Clearly, to go further than what is usually required at this level.
Monday’s meeting will be the opportunity to give the floor to the prefects of the departments who are themselves on alert, even on heightened alert. [les deux niveaux suivants]such as Pyrénées-Orientales, Var, Bouches-du-Rhône or Ain, to discuss the difficulties they encounter and the restrictions already in place: a ban on watering lawns, filling private swimming pools or yet to clean his car outside the washing stations, to water the stadiums or to wash the roads.
Waiting the “water sobriety plan” wanted by Emmanuel Macron and now announced for the end of the month, the government also wants to invite the prefects to bring together the water resources committees, these bodies which bring together all the players concerned by water management, as of March. The objective is to assess the situation as quickly as possible, to “prepare a framework” for the coming summer and, if necessary, take the necessary measures to avoid excessive tensions, like last year. It is a question of “checking department by department that the instructions are clear and that the prefects are ready” to act, let Christophe Béchu’s entourage know.
Because, currently, the level of groundwater is worrying. According to the ministry, in January, it was low compared to normal for 60% of the water tables and, after a particularly dry month of February, it should drop further… or at best not improve. The lack of rain has indeed occurred at a pivotal period for their renewal. “We risk continuing to be in the coming weeks in a state of groundwater recharge significantly lower than what we have known in previous years”, advances the cabinet of Christophe Béchu, while judging that at this stage, nothing is irrevocable.