Claude Maloyer no longer recognizes “his” Loire.
At 82, the honorary president of the Fervents of Gaul, a fishing association from Rosiers-sur-Loire (Maine-et-Loire), is saddened.
Under the bridge that connects this pretty village on the right bank to Gennes, on the left bank, one of the two arms of the royal river is dry.
The drought gives it the appearance of an ordinary river.
"It's a shame to come to this," breathes our pike lover.
When you see the change for forty years!
I don't think we'll go back..."
Here, as higher towards Saumur or lower towards Saint-Mathurin-sur-Loire and La Daguenière, the sand occupies most of the bed.
In some places it is possible to cross on foot.
"It's strictly forbidden, like swimming, recalls Vincent Paquereau, boatman, founder of the Saumuroise company Loire Evasion, which organizes trips aboard traditional boats.
But there are always unconscious people.
Where has the Loire gone?
On Friday August 19, the Montjean-sur-Loire hydrometric station recorded a flow of 105 m3/s and a height of -2.17 m against 138 m3/s and -1.90 m a month ago.
Sometimes, we only measure 20 cm of water... "It's enough for our activity", assures "Ziz", one of the leaders of Canoe-kayak d'Anjou, based in Saint-Martin-de-la-Place.
Vincent Paquereau, he cannot go less than 40 cm: “Right now, being careful, we could go down to Ponts-de-Cé, towards Angers, which is still 45 km.
Usually, for his three boats, he uses 9 propellers per season "puffed by the sand".
This year, it is 22!
The strikes widen.
The islands take their ease.
“The Loire is in crisis, observes Bernard Merlin, president of the Maine-et-Loire Federation for fishing and the protection of the aquatic environment.
Tributaries such as the Thouet, the Aubance, the Layon or the Oudon are dry.
Fish stocks are declining.
Pike and eel are threatened.
“Biodiversity will not endure repeated drought episodes for long”
The heat wave raises the temperature of the water to 28°.
The sand can reach 40°.
“The ecological damage is unquantifiable”, insists Nicolas Chatard, project manager with the federation.
Enough to abuse an ecosystem already shaken by human intervention (sand extraction, pumping, construction of structures).
To support the course, reservoirs located well upstream are often used.
“But they are also suffering,” says Nicolas Chatard.
Read alsoAfter two months of heat wave, the shocking images of the drought in France
“Biodiversity will not endure repeated drought episodes for long,” announces Alex Fagat, one of the 8 professional fishermen from Maine-et-Loire, who has been surveying the river for forty-five years.
And the coming water war will be terrible.
» The Loire and its water tables supply 70% of the department's drinking water.
On Wednesday August 17, the prefect took new restrictive measures.
Only arborists and market gardeners are spared, "given the challenges of food security".