U.S. Water News Online
PARIS -- French Environment Minister Corinne Lepage said the government will soon extend water restrictions to counter a three-month drought, according to a Reuters news report.
Lepage said seven more areas, including the Dordogne and the Gironde around Bordeaux, would soon be affected by the restrictions, taking the total to 23.
Lepage told reporters the drought was "worrying, but not alarming." She did not rule out further extending water controls to include reductions in drinking-water supplies and a ban on watering lawns and gardens, as well as on washing cars.
Mounting drought fears have led local authorities in areas including the Beauce grain belt to place limits on the amount of water farmers may use to irrigate their crops. But farmers want restrictions on water use to be extended to cities and industries, although farming accounts for 41 percent of national water consumption.
France has already said it was putting an aid program in place to compensate farmers for damage caused by drought and frost. Earlier, the head of the national grain office said crops in the main producing regions of northern France may still recover from the drought, but the situation in the south looked worse.
"The rain of the last days has helped the situation but is insufficient to make up for ground lost over the last months," director general Alain Moulinier told a grain conference in the port city of Rouen. "The situation seems already compromised in the southern part (of the country) but is not irreversible for the large grain basin of the north."
France's largest farm union, the FNSEA, has predicted that the drought has done irreversible harm to winter grain crops.
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