DROUGHT. The government, through the voice of the Minister for the Ecological Transition Christophe Béchu, called on the prefects to take orders while the drought is already raging in France and has reached a worrying level of alert for the end of winter.

[Updated February 28, 2013 at 8:08 a.m.] Meeting on the evening of Monday February 27 at the request of the Minister for Ecological Transition Christophe Béchu, the prefects received clear instructions, according to the minister interviewed by AFP. The latter called on the prefects concerned to “not have a shaking hand to issue orders”, saying he was “alarmed” by the lack of water in the soil.

For the government, the figure of 700 municipalities affected by problems of access to drinking water in the summer of 2022 could be exceeded in the absence of measures taken upstream, including in larger agglomerations and additional territories. compared to the summer of 2022. The situation is considered alarming by many specialists who note that between January 21 and February 21, metropolitan France did not experience any real rain, i.e. 32 days, a record since the beginning of measurements made by Météo France in 1959.

Three regions are mainly concerned, “Occitanie, Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes and the southern region”, indicated Christophe Béchu, adding that in these territories, “the level of soil humidity corresponds to that normally observed at the end of May”. What measures can be taken? The prefects must now bring together the departmental water resources committees. It is at the end of these interviews that they can issue water restriction orders, if necessary. Four departments are already on heightened alert: Ain, Isère, Bouches-du-Rhône and Pyrénées-Orientales.

Emmanuel Macron also expressed his concern on Saturday February 25 during his visit to the agricultural show by calling for the implementation of a “sobriety plan” for water, like what was done this winter for the energy. We already know that we will experience an extremely dry summer like last year, with “problems of scarcity [of water]: rather than organizing under duress at the last moment with conflicts of use, we must plan all this”, announced the Head of State.

Every French person must take responsibility for the drought situation that France has been experiencing for several months by adopting the right actions to save water today. Among them, we can cite not letting the water run when soaping up, using full washing machines, limiting the watering of the garden, preferring showers to baths, installing water-saving equipment, etc.

As of February 27, 2023, 5 departments are either on alert or on heightened alert and are affected by a restriction beyond vigilance on at least part of the territory. This concerns Ain, Bouches-du-Rhône, Pyrénées-Orientales, Isère (specific groundwater restrictions) and Var. In addition to these departments, Savoie is placed on alert (information and encouragement for individuals and professionals to save water). The other departments are not currently affected by any restrictions, but if the rain continues to be rare, the situation can change quickly.

What is the drought map of France?

Propluvia is the institute of the Ministry of Ecological Transition responsible for monitoring water levels and the internet platform that allows direct consultation of water restriction orders. The site includes a scalable map to view the areas affected by these prefectural decrees. Here is the map as of February 27, 2023.

There are four main levels of drought vigilance and all of them result in the implementation of specific measures.

Individuals have a role to play in limiting drought, in particular through small everyday gestures summarized by the website of the Ministry of Ecological Transition: