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Spotlight on: France's water crisis

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Graham Mann
I have been in the Water & Waste Water industry for 30 years and formed a Water Consultancy business called H2o Building Services both myself and my team have built a wealth of knowledge and expertise Saving companies money on their Water bi

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  • Spotlight on: France's water crisis

When it comes to water, different parts of the world face different issues and it’s important for regions to find their own solutions to the water crisis to help reduce pressure on supplies now and well into the future.

In France, many parts of the country experienced serious heatwaves and drought conditions last year and environmental experts are now warning that similar prospects are expected to be seen in 2023, with 19 departments across the country still on drought alert at the end of December, according to The Connexion.

A crisis team was set up in August 2022 to deal with the historic drought that saw hundreds of municipalities running short of drinking water during the summer months, with trucks having to bring in supplementary supplies and water use restricted in many regions at the time.

Irrigation was also banned in much of the south-east and north-west of the country to help conserve water supplies… but other action has since been taken in order to help address the situation and shore up resources for the future.

In a new interview with Le Parisien newspaper, ecology minister Christophe Bechue described last summer as a “before and after” tipping point, with nearly all departments in France affected by restriction measures and some 700 communities struggling to access drinking water.

And the situation is expected to get worse, he continued, saying that natural water resources are predicted to reduce by between ten and 40 per cent by 2050, The Connexion reports.

There are various plans already in place to help address the situation, such as reducing the volume of water taken from underground sources by ten per cent by the end of the government’s current term.

Furthermore, farmers are being asked to be vigilant with water usage, while water leakage is being made a top priority. Some 20 per cent of all drinking water supplies is lost to leaks on a national scale, so fixing “black spots” could make a significant difference to the pressure being placed on dwindling resources.

Focusing on water reuse could also have a big impact, Mr Bechue continued, observing that only one per cent of water is currently reused in the country. This compares to ten per cent in Italy, 20 per cent in Spain and over 90 per cent in Israel.

The ecology minister was quoted by the news source as saying: “I don’t get up in the morning and think, ‘it would be good to force people in France to consume less water’. But it’s a consequence of climate change that we all need to adapt to. We must get used to, as the president has said, the end of ‘total abundance’, including for water.”

It seems that public awareness of the crisis in France is high, however, with research from the Institut Toluna and Harris Interactive showing that the majority of people in the country are aware of water shortages and the pressure being put on water supplies.

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