Europe, Environment

France activates crisis unit to deal with 'most serious' drought

Inter-ministerial body to address worst situation ever seen in France affecting farmland, communities

Cindi Cook   | 05.08.2022
France activates crisis unit to deal with 'most serious' drought

PARIS

France’s Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne on Friday activated an inter-ministerial crisis unit to address the worst drought ever seen in the country.

Perpetuated by extreme heat and a lack of rain countrywide, the situation is predicted to worsen over the next 15 days.

The move by the prime minister will make it possible to better coordinate with municipalities, prefectures, police and authorities in the most affected areas and put in place emergency measures where needed.

A press release by Borne’s office said the move would include any necessary civil security measures, such as supplying water for use by the municipality and drinking water as needed.

As of Thursday, 62 out of France’s 101 departments were deemed to be in crisis – the highest level of alert – and 31 others were subject to water restrictions.

Measurements of water levels – or the cumulative aggregate rainfall – were first taken in France in 1958, with the driest period recorded in March 1961 at 7.8 millimeters. In July 2022, the level was recorded as 9.7 millimeters.

Still, all factors considered, the prime minister declared the situation the biggest crisis yet.

“This drought is the most serious ever recorded in our country. The weather forecasts suggest that the situation could continue over the next fortnight or become even more worrying,” she said.

Borne went on to detail that the crisis unit would monitor the impact of the drought on energy production and transport infrastructure for the agricultural sector, in particular livestock.

The summer season has made the water crisis even more difficult, with the use of water for leisure and tourist activities higher in some regions than others.

“Restrictive measures have been taken and continue to be taken wherever necessary in order to guarantee the priority uses of health, civil security, and the supply of drinking water,” Borne said about a drought that she deemed “a tragedy for our farmers, our ecosystems, and biodiversity.”

Another concern is the reduced production of nuclear electricity at the Tricastin Power Plant in southern France or even it being shut down due to the high temperatures of rivers.

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