[Article updated August 5 at 13:30 with comments from France’s ecological transition minister.]
France is currently facing a drought crisis, with nearly every department introducing some sort of water restriction rules.
The Minister for Ecological Transition, Christophe Béchu, said today that more than 100 municipalities are now without drinking water and must depend on deliveries by truck.
“We have a certain number of municipalities where we have concerns in terms of drinking water. We are already at more than a hundred municipalities in France which today no longer have drinking water and to ask there are supplies by truck”, announces the Minister pic.twitter.com/31L5iNRITm
— franceinfo (@franceinfo) August 5, 2022
He added: “We’re going to have to get used to episodes like this. Adapting is not an option, it’s an obligation, there’s no doubt about that.”
In the Var, in the south of France, the authorities of nine municipalities have gone further by introducing a daily limit on water consumption of between 150 and 200 liters per person.
The decision was taken last week by the town halls of all the municipalities called the Pays de Fayence, made up of the municipalities:
- Bagnols in the Forest
Read more: 60 French departments have ‘crisis’ drought alerts as heat continues
Read more: Vigilance, alert, crisis: what the four drought alerts mean in France
The average person in France uses around 149 liters of fresh water per day, according to a 2020 study by the Observatory of Public Water Services.
But the town hall in Fayence, one of the towns where a limit is in place, admitted to being inundated with calls from residents asking what exactly 200 liters of water use looks like.
Mayor Bernard Henry posted a statement on Facebook on July 27 saying the commune would crack down on people exceeding the 200-litre limit.
Those who break the rules risk a fine of €1,500, which can reach €3,000 in the event of a repeat offence.
“We are going to intensify the checks [people’s] daily or weekly [water] consumption by targeted or random meter readings and we will enforce the law and fine it to its fullest extent,” he wrote.
He said people caught breaking the limit might have a ‘tablet‘ installed in their homes, which is a type of filter that can reduce the flow of water.
The town hall of Bagnols-en-Forêt has instead turned to Facebook to try to give people an idea of the water consumption of each household appliance.
They’ve also added a link to an online tool that allows you to approximate your annual water consumption, which you can see here.
Read more: Annecy, Lyon, Avignon: The French cities most threatened by the rise in heat
How much water does each household appliance use?
About 93% of fresh water in France is used for hygiene or cleaning purposes, says the Water Information Center.
Bagnols-en-Forêt town hall said water for drinking and cooking represents a “negligible” amount of the average person’s water consumption.
An average bath uses 175 liters of water, according to French water management company Veolia.
A standard shower uses around 12 to 20 liters per minute, which means that a three minute shower could use around 60 litres, while a six minute shower would use 120 litres.
A bathroom sink uses about 12 liters of water per minute, while a toilet flush uses between five and 18 liters per flush, depending on the age and efficiency of the model.
Bagnols-en-Forêt town hall said that with each person going to the toilet an average of four times a day, a family of four could end up using between 50 and 100 liters of water a day just by flushing the toilet. hunt.
A very efficient dishwasher will use around 20 liters per cycle, while a less efficient model could use up to 40 litres.
Washing the dishes by hand consumes about 12 liters for a person living alone. Doing the dishes for a family will consume a lot more.
A highly efficient washing machine will use around 60 liters of water per cycle, while a less economical model could use up to 120 liters, according to the Water Information Center.
The amount of water needed to maintain a garden obviously varies depending on the size of the garden and the type of vegetation in it. Veolia indicates that the average quantity used to water a garden in France is approximately 540 liters of water.
The town hall of Bagnols-en-Forêt indicates that a pipe consumes 1,000 liters per hour.
As for swimming pools, an average swimming pool needs 50,000 liters of water to fill it.
Read more: People in south-west France can’t water gardens for three months
Tips for limiting water consumption
The town hall of Bagnols-en-Forêt offers the following advice to residents to reduce their water consumption.
- Cover your pool to limit evaporation, filter and treat the water regularly to reuse it for several years
- For the vegetable garden, hoe and mulch the soil to a good thickness, shade the area, favor drip irrigation, cultivate species that consume little water, recover rainwater
- Stop watering other plants and let them manage themselves
- Try to take short showers
- Install a water-efficient flushing system on your toilet
- Regularly check your water meter to see if you are consuming too much
The French heat wave recedes but the orange alerts are still in place in the south-east
Drought map update: See French departments with water restrictions
French homes subject to drought rule controls