Another week of high temperatures means no respite for much of drought-hit France

Arabnews24.ca:Tuesday 9 August 2022 03:44 PM: In Seillans, southeast France, the stream is dry, a fountain near the town hall no longer flows and the ground is parched.

The village, like much of France, is in the grip of the country's worst-ever drought.

"I've lived here for 17 years, and I've never seen this," says the chief of police, Phillipe Grenêche. "Since April, not a drop of water... it's sad."

One of the village's boreholes has virtually dried up, so Phillipe is taking us to see the emergency supplies many residents now rely on.

On the rocky hillside, a white truck pulls up and the driver, Daniel, begins to pump water into the system.

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He repeats the trip eight times a day, so the taps don't run dry.

To make supplies stretch, people are limited to 200 litres a day.

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Watering the garden or filling up the swimming pool is banned.

Phillipe's daily police patrol now includes looking out for water thieves.

If you're caught breaking the rules you could face a €1,500 fine.

France is in the grip of its worst-ever drought
France is in the grip of its worst-ever drought

This isn't the only place that's struggling with the water shortage, in France two-thirds of the country are at crisis level for drought.

Four recent heatwaves have triggered weeks of wildfires and reduced the mighty Loire to a stream in some stretches.

Last week, the government said 100 places were without safe tap water.

Siobhan Robbins walks with olive farmer Mireille Christine
Image: Siobhan Robbins walks with olive farmer Mireille Christine

Back in Seillans, even Mireille Christine's heat-loving olives are suffering.

The ground around them is so dry, it crunches.

"Look at this tree there's no olives. For the 2022 harvest we will have practically nothing," she says.

So far, water being used by restaurants in Seillans isn't being restricted but if the drought gets worse, the mayor has warned that eventually everyone's supply may need to be controlled.

That would be a disaster according to bistro owner Patrick Girard: "People come to eat and drink here so I need to have functioning toilets. We may as well just close if there are restrictions."

"It would be better just to close," he explains.

And there is no respite, another week of high temperatures means much of France will continue to bake.

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