Water restrictions recently came into force in parts of southern England and, on the basis of a report on rainfall issued by Meteofrance on 1st March, it looks like parts of Pays de la Loire will not be far behind.
For France as a whole, rainfall in February 2012, when an anticyclone was stuck over France for most of the month bringing extremes of cold weather but little precipitation, rainfall was down 20% from the norm but parts of Pays de la Loire have suffered from a particular shortage of rainfall to replenish reservoirs and aquifers during the autumn of 2011 and the early months of 2012.
According to Meteofrance, the shortfall is most acute in parts of western France and the south-west where, over a 6 month period ending February 2012, rainfall is the lowest since 1959, i.e. worse, even, than 2011 when there were drought restrictions in most departments of Pays de la Loire from springtime through to the autumn.
During February, the whole of Pays de la Loire had rainfall levels at less than 25% of the average. Since the beginning of 2012, although it may not have felt that way, Pays de la Loire has again suffered from drought with the whole of the Loire Region seeing rainfall at between 50% and 75% of the norm.
Mayenne worst affected
Over the six months to the end of February, the whole of Mayenne, an extremely important department agriculturally, saw some of the lowest rainfall levels in France with a deficit of between 50% and 75% of the average, a figure replicated in parts of western Sarthe and parts of Loire-atlantique, Maine-et-Loire and Vendée.
Unless we are in for an exceptionally wet springtime, it is looking that drought - la sècheresse - will return to Pays de la Loire in 2012, impacting on agricultural production and, ultimately, the price of food in the shops.
Practical steps to save water in France
Further water restrictions in Pays de la Loire in 2012 seem inevitable but, before these come into force, there are practical steps that everyone can take now to conserve water – please see our earlier article Drought in France: Practical water-saving measures everyone can take
Source: Meteofrance - bilan au 1er mars 2012
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