Water-strapped France gets tough on lawn owners — Analysis

People across the nation are being asked to save water. The police make rounds to check that they’re doing so.

France is now on drought alert to reduce the effects of an ever more severe dry spell. All but three of the country’s 96 departments are encouraging or outright ordering residents to save water, the nation’s Ministry of Ecological Transition said on Thursday. Police have been given the task of monitoring compliance to these restrictions.

France, like many European nations, has been affected by extreme heat waves this summer and droughts. This led to water restrictions being implemented. The four levels of alert have been identified as vigilance and alert (yellow), increased alert (orange), or crisis (red).

As of July 28, 2022 93 departments had implemented additional restrictions that were beyond the vigilance level in at least some portion of their territory. Nine of them have been placed on alert while 38 others are under heightened alert. 46 of those in crisis status have also been put on alert.,” the ministry indicated.

France limits water usage

According to media reports, police officers are routinely visiting local areas to check on their safety.

The TV broadcaster BFM said that law enforcement was trying to prevent locals from watering their lawns by “Looking for the smallest drop of water.” According to Jean-Noel Rieffel, regional director of the French Office of Biodiversity, in most cases the police only remind locals about the restrictions but will take action in case of repeated violation. Violators may face a fine of up to €1,500 ($1,531).

Not only are private citizens being monitored, Reports state that police officers visited a course of golf, and in one instance, they discovered an artificial lake made with water from the nearby river. That is strictly illegal.

There’s nothing to discuss here. That’s a flagrant [violation]. The maximum pressure on the Yser is at this point. These violations will continue until we fail.” said Herve Tourmente, sub-prefect of Dunkirk, a commune in the Nord department near the Belgian border.

Due to the dire water situation, many areas are trying to reduce their water consumption. Local farmers have reduced their water use for agriculture by as much as 50% in the impacted regions.

Not only does the drought impact agriculture, but it also affects common people. Many of these individuals have been forced to stop washing cars or watering their gardens in the hottest hour of the day. In departments with the “red” crisis level, water usage is authorized only for health and hydration purposes.

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