In Toulouse, the Garonne is at its lowest level known for 60 years in summer. This information is all the more worrying since the critical period for the river occurs each year during the months of September and October.
The images follow one another on social networks, witnesses of this unprecedented situation. In Toulouse, the Garonne is at a historically low level for the month of August… so much so that a man could cross it with foot from end to end.
“It’s absolutely a record”warns Bernard Leroy, head of low water and drought at the Joint Union for Studies and Development of the Garonne (SMEAG). “It’s been 60 years since we’ve seen such a low level of the Garonne in summer.”
For two summer months, the SMEAG orchestrated a series of water releases towards the Garonne, from its tributaries, Pyrenean rivers and torrents. An essential solution to maintain the Garonne at a sufficient level, especially for farmers whose crop peak occurred in July, but also for all its other uses (drinking water, industry, watering, etc.). “We are in an unprecedented situation”continues Bernard Leroy.
“In 30 years of existence, we have never released so much water into the Garonne in July and August.Bernard Leroy, head of low water and drought at SMEAG
But faced with this particularly intense and early drought, the syndicate was forced to release a lot of water even before the traditional period of drying up of the rivers which occurs between September and October. These two months are the most critical for the Garonne. “It is now the classic hydrological drought that will occur. The snowmelt is over”says Bernard Leroy. “We must guarantee a minimum level of water for the activity of the Garonne, both human and in terms of biodiversity.”
But with so many water releases this summer, the union fears that it will not be able to provide low water support from the start of the school year. The tension on the rivers reached its climax last week with an average water flow in Toulouse of 38 m3 per second (the crisis flow being 27 m3), the tributaries are drying up.
So to ensure sufficient reserves to hold out for the first months of autumn, the coordinating prefect of the Garonne sub-basin and the president of the mixed union for studies and development of the Garonne have decided to drastically reduce the releases. of water. “We are in a pre-crisis situation”, analyze the person responsible for low water and drought at SMEAG. “We manage things day by day, depending on the rainfall in order to guarantee the vital activities of the Garonne such as drinking water or biological life.”
The rains that have fallen in the region over the past few days have made it possible to stop low-water level support for the time being, but it will have to be resumed on Sunday, sparingly, and limiting the use of each drop of water.