Argelès-sur-Mer, Palavas-les-Flots or Le Grau-du-Roi... these towns have all chosen to abandon their beach showers, which are considered to consume a lot of water.
With early heat waves and a worrying level of drought, this resource has never been more precious.
To preserve it as well as possible, measures to restrict water consumption have been put in place by many communities.
Our water resource is becoming scarce, every summer we are on drought alert
", says Cécile Canguilhem, in charge of the ecological transition of Argelès-sur-Mer (Pyrénées-Orientales).
Faced with this alarming phenomenon, the city is trying to limit its water consumption by eliminating its beach showers.
This decision - taken by Mayor Antoine Parra in 2019 - does not stem
from "a need for financial savings
", but rather "
from a saving of resources
", explains François Lievremont, in charge of sports and associative life at the coastal town.
Rising temperatures have lowered groundwater levels, the municipality's main source of supply.
Twenty departments in drought crisis
For Fabio d'Andrea, CNRS researcher at the Dynamic Meteorology Laboratory, "
it is because of the increase in evaporation from plants in the atmosphere that we face more drought waves
", reports the expert.
This is explained by higher temperatures which make the plants sweat a lot more.
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Like Argelès-sur-Mer, a large number of towns are affected by the depletion of their hydraulic resources.
According to the Ministry of Ecological Transition, as of July 5, “
” are in a state of
crisis ”, and “
22 on heightened alert
”, he told
The assessment of the level of drought severity is based on hydrological data and field observations
," he added.
The management of this situation is “
piloted at the departmental level to adapt to the context
Watering ban measures
It is therefore the prefects who have the right to deploy the “
” through the publication of a prefectural decree which gives directives to the town halls.
The idea is to match consumption with the reality of the resource
", says Pascal Jobert, departmental director of territories and the sea of the Alpes-Maritimes.
Depending on the severity of the drought, water use restrictions apply.
What makes the difference is the ban on all watering
," testifies Pascal Jobert.
For a city placed in a state of crisis like Antibes (Alpes-Maritimes), the decree prohibits the watering of green spaces, sports areas, gardens but also the cleaning of roads.
The objective is to "
preserve the resource for priority uses (health, civil security and drinking water)
”, specifies the ministry.
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Controls are then put in place by the prefectures: “
We mainly control the biggest consumers of water such as golf courses, ports, communities
”, assures the departmental director of the Alpes-Maritimes.
To monitor domestic use, it is up to the mayor to issue a municipal decree, allowing the police to carry out the inspection.
However, the Ministry of Ecology calls for civil responsibility: “
The management of water scarcity concerns everyone, everyone can act
Same story from the side of the prefecture: "
The French must monitor their water meter to avoid leaks
Islands of freshness, urban solution
Beyond the measures implemented by the public authorities, there are other solutions to combat water scarcity.
CNRS researcher Fabio d'Andrea has taken part in studies which prove that "
the creation of plots of vegetation in urban areas makes it possible to lower temperatures
", he says.
The municipality of Argelès-sur-Mer is the most eloquent example of this since it has chosen to create islands of freshness, made up of plants that require little water.
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Removing the bitumen and replacing it with vegetation lowers the ambient temperature.
We notice a positive impact on groundwater, since the water from the plants reinfiltrates into the soil
,” explains the person in charge of the ecological transition of the city.
Applying an ecological policy in cities is essential for the expert who warns: “
More and more waves of drought will emerge in the next decades
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