July 2022 was the driest on record since 1959, and there have been three heat waves so far this summer, Météo France said.
A fourth heat wave is currently underway in France and should last all week.
As dry heat adds to an already high drought risk, water restrictions have been introduced across much of the country.
Read more: Drought map update: See French departments with water restrictions
The mayor of a town in Ain, Arboys-de-Bugey, even took the decision to cut off the water to its inhabitants between 8:30 a.m. and 11:00 a.m., and 2:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m.
One resident said it required him to change his routine a bit, but it was worth it to save water in times of drought.
He told Capital.fr“You have to think about how you act. Turning on the tap is not a trivial gesture. I normally cook for lunch and take a shower in the evening.
However, one resident objects to the idea of shutting off the water. She said, “I don’t think it’s an adequate or thoughtful solution. For us, it’s really restrictive and I find that we actually consume more water [because we save it] when it’s muted than when it’s not.
Residents of other municipalities may wish to save water to avoid the risk of a complete cutoff of their supply.
Bruno De Grissac, director of the Departmental Syndicate of Gironde Water Resources (SMEGREG), told Actu.fr: “It requires a certain motivation. You have to change your way of life.
Mr De Grissac said the aim was to change long-term behavior, so that “all good deeds are not forgotten with the first rains of autumn”.
He said raising awareness about water issues can be effective; in Gironde, “the population has increased by 300,000 inhabitants in 20 years, but the quantity of water that we draw from the water table has remained the same”.
Here are some of his tips for saving water
Reusing water is a major way to save money. You can use the water in which you wash your salad or cook your pasta to water your plants, for example.
Similarly, you can collect the water from your shower in a bathtub and use it to wash the dishes or water the plants.
Put bottles in your toilet tank
Fill two or three water bottles with water and place them in your toilet tank. This way your tank will require less water to fill and will use less water per flush.
Use water carefully when washing
Showering saves water compared to bathing, said the World Organization for Environmental Protection (OMPE), with 200 liters used for a bath compared to 60 to 80 for an average shower.
People are advised not to linger too long in the shower for even more savings.
Similarly, turning off the tap while brushing your teeth can save 1,000 liters a year, according to the WWF.
Dishwashers are more water efficient compared to manual washing up if there are several people in the household, and even if you have to do all your washing up by hand, it is better to fill a tub with water rather than leave the faucet open everywhere.
Households are also advised to check for dripping taps or slow leaks, as they could waste water for days or even weeks.
Install a faucet aerator
A faucet aerator is a small, inexpensive device that screws onto the faucet outlet to regulate the flow of water.
Mr. De Grissac describes it as “the water version of a low-consumption light bulb”.
They usually cost around €5 and can save up to 50% of tap water consumption per year.
The WWF says you can also install a “flow restrictor” which, when used in combination with an aerator, provides enough water for hand washing and rinsing.
You can also buy water-saving and energy-saving shower heads that achieve a similar result for showers.
Farmers are scared
It comes as some farmers across the country choose to continue watering their crops despite the restrictions, risking heavy penalties.
Some fear that the lack of water will cause them to lose everything.
Pascal Ribreau, one of the 110 farmers in Charente-Maritime who admitted to watering his crops despite a prefectural order against him, said FranceInfo“We have to feed our family, we have additional charges to pay, which have increased due to the conflict in Ukraine. It’s not good, we know that, but we did it.
Mr. Ribreau thus saw his agricultural equipment confiscated, after three months of “illegal” watering.
Patrick Picaud, of the NGO France Nature Environnement, said farmers should have prepared for the heat, and regretted that some were caught off guard.
He said: “Since February we have had major warnings that this season was going to be very difficult. People were to avoid growing crops that would require a lot of water in the summer.
Read more: French homes subject to drought rule checks
French authorities have carried out more than 4,000 “drought checks” at homes across the country following the restrictions. Anyone who violates the measures risks being issued an official warning or a fine.
French drought measures: How much water do household appliances consume?