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How do the French authorities inform the populations of the water restrictions?

France is currently facing a severe drought crisis with water restrictions of a certain level in place in every department. These restrictions can be issued at departmental level or commune by commune, which means that different authorities can be responsible for relaying the rules.

Report readers report mixed experiences with how easy it has been to find out which rules, which can range from no garden watering between certain hours to strict daily water limits, apply to their area .

Some said the communication was “hopeless”, while others praised town halls for their efforts.

The French Minister for Ecological Transition, Christophe Béchu, announced yesterday (5 August) that 100 municipalities are currently without drinking water from the tap with sources depleted.

He described the situation as “historic”, adding that “the challenge is to tighten a number of restrictions to prevent this from happening”. [elsewhere]”.

The government has formed an interministerial crisis unit to assess the situation.

Read more: 60 French departments have ‘crisis’ drought alerts as heat continues

In the south of the Var department, nine municipalities have taken the decision to limit the daily water consumption of residents to 200 liters per person.

Read more: French measures against drought: How much water do household appliances consume?

Town halls are vital

We asked the prefecture of Lozère, which is at the maximum drought alert level of “crisis”, how it informs residents about the rules and it replied that it has taken a multi-pronged approach.

He released the official executive order outlining the restrictions on its websiteas well as publications on Facebook and Twitter.

A spokesperson also said that the local and regional press plays an important role in sharing information and that the prefecture has spoken to various media.

Finally, he said that local town halls are essential for the dissemination of information.

“As we have many small villages in the department, town halls play an important role in informing citizens, who often turn to them for updates and information,” the spokesperson said. The connection.

The prefect of the department, Philippe Castanet, convened a “water resources” meeting on July 27 to plan the restrictions with local authorities and actors and since the end of July, special meetings have been held every Friday on the issue of drought. .

The spokesperson said physical letters or emails were not sent from the prefecture to residents, but local town halls may have taken the action.

Each department in France will adopt a slightly different strategy and local town halls will also relay information through different channels.

A spokesman for Ademe, the French Environment and Energy Management Agency, said they could not comment on how authorities are keeping people informed of the restriction measures. water.

National alert levels and Propluvia

There is a national drought alert website called Propluviawhich provides a map classifying the departments according to the four levels of drought alert.

These are:

Code 1 – warning (vigilance)

Code 2 – alert (alert)

Code 3 – heightened alert (enhanced alert)

Code 4 – crisis (crisis)

While this website gives an overview of the restrictions, it does not give the specific measures in place in each municipality.

The government advises taking certain actions at each alert level, but these can be changed by local authorities, meaning they are not necessarily consistent.

Read more: Vigilance, alert, crisis: what France’s four drought warnings mean

From desperate to well organized

Report readers reported different ways to stay on top of the metrics.

Some said they simply followed the actions of their neighbors, watering the grass when they did, for example.

One reader criticized his region’s communication strategy, calling it “hopeless”.

Another said it was difficult for him to follow the rules, but used various Facebook groups to stay informed.

Emma, ​​a freelance communications specialist living in Nice, said she had struggled to find accurate information about the restrictions in place in the city.

“I didn’t find the drought website, Propluvia, very helpful. So I went to the Ville de Nice website and had to really dig around to find everything about watering private gardens,” she said.

“I speak French fairly well, but this was a decree document using high-level French. I’m still not 100% sure.

“My French neighbors don’t know it either and we have a common garden

“It’s frustrating because I’m a resident of France but still a guest in this country and I want to respect the rules

“I don’t know how they could apply fines if they haven’t done everything possible to communicate the rules to the general public.

“Then I’ll err on the side of caution and use dishwater instead of the garden hose, and I’ll sacrifice my first crop of zucchini!”

“I felt uncomfortable asking a neighbor to check the restrictions before agreeing to water his garden while he was on vacation. He didn’t know either so he told me not to. bother me. No big deal.”

Pierre Gestin, an osteopath who lives in Hyères, Var, said he was not aware of any restrictions in place in his area.

He says he doesn’t normally do a lot of gardening anyway so he wasn’t worried, but as far as he knows he hasn’t received any letters or emails from the local authorities.

However, another Report A reader living in Aude welcomed the actions of their town hall, saying they had received an email summarizing the rules and another with the decree outlining the legislation.

And another said their town hall is sharing information about the app Pocket Panelwhich allows town halls and other local authorities to issue alerts to keep residents informed.

You can keep up to date with drought restrictions at departmental level with our daily updated guide: Drought map update: See French departments with water restrictions

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