The entirety of France’s metropolitan départements – all 96 – now have alerts issued for drought, after local authorities for the Paris region placed their départements on alert. There are four levels of drought restrictions, ranging from limits on agricultural usage to bans on non-essential water usage for households.
Prior to Tueday, the départements of Paris and Hauts-de-Seine, Seine-Saint-Denis, and Val-de-Marne were the exceptions, but as of August 2nd, they have also been called to employ in water restriction measures after being added to the drought alert list as of August 2nd.
Meanwhile, Essonne, Yvelines, Val d’Oise and Seine-et-Marne départements were already affected by water restrictions.
River levels have dropped across the country, and the Seine has not been spared. After the flow-rate of the Seine river fell under the threshold of 81 cubic metres per second (m3/s) when passing Austerlitz station on July 25th, the drought alert for Paris itself was triggered.
The Ile-de-France region is currently on the “vigilance” level, which is the first of the four drought alert levels.
This means that individuals, local authorities and companies are encouraged, but not obliged, by the préfecture to ration their water consumption by avoiding watering green spaces and roads, washing their vehicles and/or limiting their domestic consumption.
The drought is expected to continue as the country prepares for another heat wave. Almost no rain is expected in the next 10 days in France, except for a few showers next Thursday and Friday in the east of the country.
Considerable damage to #agriculture, hydro-power etc. is being reported
— 🇪🇺 DG DEFIS #StrongerTogether (@defis_eu) July 30, 2022
Farmers nationwide are reporting difficulties in feeding livestock because of parched grasslands, while irrigation has been banned in large areas of the northwest and southeast due to freshwater shortages.
On the eastern river Rhine, which runs along the France-Germany border, commercial boats are having to run at a third of their carrying capacity in order to avoid hitting the bottom because the water level is so low.
Environment Minister Christophe Bechu said July’s rainfall represented “just 12 percent of what’s needed”.
“We have a heatwave that increases the need (for water) and a drought that is limiting what is available, pushing us into this vicious cycle,” Bechu told BFM television during a visit to the hard-hit Isere department in the southeast.
Calls to conserve water across the whole of France came after reports that the country saw its driest July on record. In France, there was just 9.7 millimetres of rain last month, Meteo France said.