What if drinking water runs out? Many French cities could be deprived of water by the summer according to specialists.

The sunny days are just around the corner and the fear of water restrictions is already looming. While the spring and summer of 2023 were marked by a significant period of drought, certain signs point to fears of another difficult year. In 2024, the heat could be there again, but the real concerns concern the quantity of water available. If the rains of winter and recent weeks were able to fill the water tables to obtain sufficient quantities of water, in some places the indicators are red, particularly in the Mediterranean regions.

As of March 1, 2024, some groundwater reserves already had low or even very low water levels, according to data from the Geological and Mining Research Bureau responsible for monitoring the filling of groundwater tables. These alarming situations are very localized and concern the plains of Roussillon and the Corbières massif in the south. But what happens in the soil has a direct consequence on daily life: in several municipalities water could run out in the coming weeks. This is the case in the Pyrénées-Orientales, but also in Hérault.

Already twelve municipalities are close to a shortage of drinking water in the west of Hérault, due to poor groundwater filling, reports France Bleu. And the situation is not going to get better according to specialists who estimate that around a hundred municipalities could have difficulty supplying themselves with water by the summer. The prefect of Hérault, Francois-Xavier Lauch, therefore called on residents to save water now, because “95% of drinking water comes from groundwater”. However, the recharge level of these reserves hardly reaches 40% according to the prefect.

To avoid deprivation of drinking water, or worse shortages, the time has come for “rigorous and attentive water management”. We must consume “in a different way”, he insisted: “put in place water limiters, turn off the taps, install rain collectors, take a shower rather than a bath, do not wash the cars when prefectural decrees are issued, limiting the filling of swimming pools. Common sense gestures.” The actions put in place now will perhaps allow us to continue to have access to water throughout the department during the summer.

But despite precautions, the worst must be considered and emergency measures, already deployed last year, are planned to compensate for the absence of drinking water at the tap: provision of tank trucks, bottles of water or even the search for new sources of water. This situation seems destined to repeat itself and perhaps become more accentuated over the years since in “2050, the climate of Montpellier will be that of Seville in Spain” according to the prefect of Hérault. Which called for long-term solutions, starting with a renovation of the aging water network in several cities in France.