French Eastern Pyrenees region to implement new water restrictions

Car washes may soon have to close in southern France due to drought conditions.
Car washes may soon have to close in southern France due to drought conditions. Copyright FRFT vía EVN
By Clemence WallerAFP & EBU
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Due to significant drought conditions, France's Eastern Pyrenees region is set to implement water restrictions as the water table levels remain at an all-time low after a dry winter.

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The area has been experiencing limited rainfall and high temperatures since June 2022, and regional authorities have decided not only to prolong but also intensify the current water restrictions. 

From 10 May onwards, the Pyrénées-Orientale will enter a "state of crisis", which means additional measures will also be implemented.

Across the department, car washes may soon have to close to save water.

One car wash owner, Jean-Marc Formenti, believes customers will wash their cars at home and is preparing to defend his business in front of the local government.

"The wash at my station consumes 110 litres of water. A private individual with a hose consumes 300 litres. It is three times more damaging for the water table," he said. 

In Eastern France, two sectors in the Ain region are already subject to a decree prohibiting car washes.

However, some car washes continue operating, and only those with authorised water recycling systems can remain open. This decree only applies to three per cent of car wash centres in France. The sector accounts for 0.2 per cent of total water consumption in the country.

The regional authorities have said the drought is "the longest and most intense since the start of soil moisture monitoring by Météo France in 1959" and may have to turn to the President for help.

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