Haute-Garonne, like several departments of Occitanie, is on heightened drought alert. The rivers are at their lowest, like the reservoirs of the Pyrenees which are used to supply them. If it does not rain, some fear a water shortage in 40 to 50 days and difficult electricity production.
The days pass and the level of the Garonne, in Toulouse (Haute-Garonne) remains desperately low. Only 9.7 millimeters of rain fell across France in July. A deficit of rainfall of about 84% compared to normal for the period 1991-2020, indicates Météo-France.
In Haute-Garonne as in the other departments concerned, the absence of rain dries up the waterways. As a result, the Toulouse river displays historically low levels. The situation is all the more worrying as it supplies drinking water to almost 97% of homes in the city and surrounding area.
The president of the Dordogne departmental fishing federation does not hide his fears. Asked by our daily colleagues The DispatchJean-Michel Ravailhe, ensures that “if it does not rain significantly within 40 days, Toulouse will run out of water.”
According to whoever also chairs the Migado association responsible for the protection of aquatic environments, “we arrive at breaking points which are problematic in a climatological context where water – which is good for the environment and for people – may be lacking”. According to this activist for the protection of fish, several factors are at the origin of this risk of shortage, in particular climate change.
If there is no more water in the dams, winter production will be very complicated
Olivier Marfaing, group leader at SHEM
In order not to find the Garonne dry, the water retained in the dams of the Pyrenees was discharged into the river in order to ensure a correct flow. As of August 4, 2022, 25 million m3 of water have already been destocked from the reserves of the Pyrenees. A recording! More than double never used in previous years.
The lac D’Artouste is one of these water reserves. It too is showing historically low levels due to the drought. The main water reserve in the Ossoue Valley in the Pyrénées-Atlantiques serves as a low-water support for lakes and rivers further downstream, including the Garonne.
This year, this dam integrated in 1929 has only fifty days of water reserve left. “I have never seen such a catastrophic situation in terms of water reserves within our dams“says Olivier Marfaing, group leader at SHEM. It is also used to generate electricity. A this subject, Olivier Marfaing has a second apprehension: “If we have no more water in the dams, winter (electricity) production will be very complicated“says the manager.
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Drought in Béarn: the level of Lake Artouste is “very low and it is very worrying”
In Toulouse, the water supplying the networkmainly comes from surface water”, recall the services of the metropolis in charge of water. In addition to the Garonne, the Saint Martory canal, the Ariège lake and the Ramée lake are the main sources of drinking water in the Toulouse conurbation. Once collected, this water is distributed and then treated in one of the three drinking water production plants deployed in metropolitan France (Clairfont, Pech David and Tournefeuille).
According to information provided by the town hall of Toulouse this Thursday, “there is no risk of shortage of drinking water in the immediate future“, even if the current levels of the Garonne are low. “We have sufficient margin to meet daily demand“, indicates the municipality, which ensures that “even if the flow may seem weaker, there is enough water”.
“In the absence of significant rain and with temperatures that remain high, all water uses are increasingly threatened in the region.”, reminder Network 31, the Toulouse water management union.
In Haute-Garonne, restrictions taken by the prefecture are in force to better regulate the use of water. On August 5, withdrawals from individuals and communities are limited, the filling of private swimming pools and the washing of vehicles outside the stations is prohibited.
As a reminder, in the event of water shortages, four levels exist in France. Vigilance, alert, heightened alert, crisis. These devices push the authorities to apply increasingly strong restrictions, which affect individuals, farmers and industrialists alike.
Météo France brings good news in this flood of uncertainties: thunderstorms should water the Southwest during the weekend of August 14th.