A record number of French regions face water restrictions
Strasbourg (AFP) –
Marc-Antoine BAUDOUX, with the offices of AFP
A record 90 out of 96 regions in mainland France are facing water restrictions due to an ongoing drought, official figures showed on Tuesday, as searing temperatures and low rainfall cause supply shortages in many areas.
Only a handful of “departments” across the country are exempt from the restrictions, including the Paris area, the government’s drought website, Proluvia, shows.
A colour-coded map shows the toughest measures – including a ban on irrigation of farmland – are in the north-west of the Loire river basin and in the south-east around the Rhone.
The areas of the south-west around the Tarn and Lot rivers are also in the highest red category, while even the normally green Alps suffer severe drought.
“We have a record number of departments with restrictions,” the environment ministry said in a statement.
France experienced its third driest spring on record this year, after 2011 and 1976, with rainfall 45 percent below average, according to the national weather service.
Two severe heatwaves in May and most recently in July – when temperatures soared above 40 degrees Celsius (100 degrees Fahrenheit) – have further reduced water levels and scorched farmland and forests.
Two huge fires near Bordeaux in south-west France have destroyed more than 20,000 hectares of dead wood over the past two weeks and required around 2,000 firefighters to bring them under control.
As a precaution, local authorities are restricting access to many forest areas, including the Calanques National Park on the Mediterranean coast near Marseille, which is popular with tourists.
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