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Pyrenees' drought is officially a 'crisis' with dried-up rivers and water restrictions

A stranded boat is pictured above the water line at the lake Serre-Poncon in southern France, Tuesday, March 14, 2023.
A stranded boat is pictured above the water line at the lake Serre-Poncon in southern France, Tuesday, March 14, 2023. Copyright Daniel Cole/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved
Copyright Daniel Cole/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved
By Rory Elliott Armstrong with AFP
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The French Pyrenees-Orientales borders Spain's Catalonia autonomous region.

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France's Pyrenees-Orientales coastal region has declared that it is officially in drought.

“We are really in a completely unprecedented situation as we are currently observing levels that we are supposed to observe in July or August," says hydrogeologist Hichem Tachrift.

40 'departments' in France, nearly half the country, are officially at 'alert' or 'vigilance' levels of drought. The Pyrenees-Orientales is the fourth district to declare a 'crisis' drought level.

Car washing, garden watering and pool filling have been banned to try and save water for drinking.

How has the region ended up in drought?

One of the main rivers in Pyrénées Orientales, the Agly, has been almost completely dried up since the middle of March.

The cracked soil testifies to the lack of water in this tourist-dependent area, which also has a fatal effect on farming.

Orchards in this area will have to adapt to the water restrictions, a hard blow when the drought in Europe has already done so much damage to crops and livelihoods.

"The terminal bud in this season has grown a little bit but normally it's very bright red. Here it's dull red, so it's clearly missing water," says Pascal Maillols, a local farmer.

With these new restrictions, there will be no more upgrading swimming pools, watering vegetable gardens, or taking care of green spaces. The only exception is if the water comes from a reused system. Beach showers will also be prohibited.

During the past year, the Pyrenees-Orientales has had 35-40% of its usual rainfall

The drought also raises fears of that wildfires will break out due to dry vegetation.

In neighbouring Spain, extreme measures have been brought in to tackle the ongoing drought. Outdoor work is now banned during extreme heat, while the government has allocated more than €2 billion to tackle the drought.

Watch the video above to see more on the Pyrenees' drought.

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