Monday, 16 May 2011

Drought continues in France

The drought is continuing in France into the month of May after a very dry Spring.

There is a meeting today of a "drought committee", which meets at the request of the Minister for Ecology Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet, to take stock.
Wildlife in the Loire and Cher is threatened by drought. The sun, combined with the lack of rain has caused the rivers to be at their lowest. This could cause fish to suffocate by lack of oxygen in the limited water available.

Twenty-six départements, mainly in the West, are either limiting water supplies to certain uses or are considering doing so.

The worst hit area is the four départements of Poitou-Charentes, which have implemented the strongest measures, so have banned any watering of parks or filling of swimming pools. Poitou-Charentes is popular with tourists. It lies south of the Vendee on the West of France and includes the popular tourist resorts of La Rochelle and Cognac.
Measures are also being taken in the north of France (Somme, Oise, Eure), Ile-de-France (Essonne, Val-de-Marne, Seine-et-Marne), in the Center (Indre, Cher, Nièvre ) in the Lyon region (Rhone, Isere, Ardeche) and Eastern (Jura, Doubs, Territoire de Belfort).

But the problem extends well beyond French borders. Throughout northern Europe there have been unusually dry conditions this spring. The situation could last "a few weeks or even months" because of an area of "very persistent high pressure" announced in early May by the World Meteorological Organization.

We will need to see how this might affect holidaymakers - there may be increased risk of forest fires etc. However the worst effects will be to farmers and food production. The drought has occurred just at the time that seeds and seedlings are expected to take in the fields and when they have small root systems so this could have devastating effects on agriculture and as a result food prices in France.

Update on 24/5/11 - the Government has asked banks to be considerate to farmers who may have cash flow problems. The harvest date of 15 June has also been brought forward.  The départements which have water restrictions in place can be seen on this map of France :

Thankfully there is some rain predicted in the next week so lets hope the situation improves before this year's harvest is badly affected.

Update at 13th June - cracks have appeared in homes built on clay soil in drought hit regions and problems predicted for electricity supply if the heat and drought continues :

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