France creates a task force to stem the impact of the “historic” drought

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The French government said on Friday it had activated a crisis task force to coordinate efforts to mitigate the effects of a “historic” drought exacerbated by a third wave of extreme heat of the summer.

Water restrictions have already been ordered in almost all of France’s 96 metropolitan departments, including 62 at the highest alert level, and weather agency Météo-France predicts little relief for the coming weeks.

“This drought is the worst ever recorded in our country (…) the situation could persist for the next two weeks or worsen,” Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne’s office said in a statement.

The drought conditions are a “catastrophe” for farmers across the country as well as “our ecosystems and biodiversity”, he added.

And soaring temperatures have increased evaporation from lakes and rivers, which have dropped in levels even as irrigation needs increase ahead of the fall harvest.

State-controlled electricity supplier EDF has also had to cut production at several nuclear power stations because river temperatures have become too high, meaning water used to cool reactors cannot be safely returned. safety in natural waterways.

“Faced with this historic situation, the Prime Minister has decided to activate an interministerial crisis unit and urges everyone to preserve our water resources,” his cabinet said.

But the statement fell short of growing criticism over exceptions given to golf courses, which are allowed to continue watering greens even in departments currently on drought crisis alert.

Several other European countries have also issued severe drought warnings, with the EU this week urging members to reuse treated urban wastewater for parched farms across the continent.

©France 24

The crisis has raised fears that grain and other crop yields will suffer, further pushing up food prices which are already soaring in part due to the disruption caused by Russia’s continued invasion of Ukraine.


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