Regularly plagued by drought, the Pyrénées-Orientales department has around fifty French municipalities under pressure in terms of drinking water.

The Pyrénées-Orientales department on maximum alert. This is why the Minister of Ecological Transition Christophe Béchu is expected in Perpignan and Canet-en-Roussillon this Wednesday, May 22 to present his resilience plan in the face of drought. In total, around fifty municipalities in the department are affected by the lack of drinking water, which represents around 35,000 inhabitants in the area. 

Among the municipalities “under tension”, “we already have twelve which are totally or partially out of drinking water” confides Christophe Béchu in the columns of L’Indépendant. “Two thirds of these fifty municipalities have leak rates higher than 35%, when the national average is 20%. We have in our sights nine communities in the department whose leak rates are higher than 50% and on which we will prioritize work with the Water Agency,” he continues. In fact, drought also causes considerable damage to agriculture. The volume of the latest harvests was, for example, 30% lower than last year.

To try to respond to these various issues, to help French municipalities which already no longer have drinking water available in spring 2024 and those which should quickly be impacted at the same level, the government has decided to release an envelope of 10 million euros to support seven different projects. “Three concern the reuse of waste water in Argelès, Saint-Cyprien and Canet-en-Roussillon. The other four concern water supply infrastructures: securing the Agly downstream networks, remote management on the plot on the Corbère canal, work on the Perpignan canal and renovation of leaking infrastructure in Ille-sur-Têt” confides the minister in the daily.

A project to reuse wastewater from the urban community of Perpignan and the establishment of a vineyard irrigation network in Aspres are also planned. Finally, Christophe Béchu wishes to lift the veil on the drilling problem. Some are undeclared and pump water without authorization. “On this subject, the first point is to ensure that existing drilling is regularized and to prohibit new projects as long as we cannot see clearly” he explains in L’Indépendant . Systematizing remote reading meters could make it possible to better take into account the resources available in a department particularly affected by drought, and to understand the future with more perspective, particularly for possible housing projects in these areas.