Ban on car washing in southern part of France
Residents of the southern French region Pyrénées-Orientales may no longer wash their cars or water their gardens. French Ecology Minister Christophe Béchu even banned the sale of (inflatable) water pools because of the drought in the region. The measures will take effect from Wednesday.
According to Béchu, there is no other way to fight the water shortages in the mountainous region between France and Spain. There has not been a full day of rain in the are in the past year, he reasoned his decision. “We have to get rid of our culture of abundance”, he told to French TV-station RTL.
The ban on selling above-ground pools, such as inflatable ones, seems unnecessary because of another rule that takes effect on that day: the ban on filling a pool. But Béchu says he wants to prevent people from being tempted to do it anyway.
Pyrénées-Orientales, whose capital is Perpignan, is now one of the four French regions where a crisis situation has been declared because of the drought. Others are Bouches-du-Rhône, Var en Gard.
Because of low water levels, there are fears that seawater is mixing with drinking water sources. Moreover, the concentration of harmful substances in the sources is higher when the water is low.
Drinking water in danger
There is concern about water levels in 40 regions, half of France. Béchu believes that 2,000 of France’s approximately 36 thousand municipalities will have problems with drinking water supplies this year. Last year it was already so bad that 400 municipalities had to switch entirely to using water from plastic bottles for an extended period of time.
Béchu hopes the French will take his warnings seriously: “Climate change is already here. We must exercise much more restraint in the use of available resources.”
The drought is not only causing drinking water problems. In the Pyrénées-Orientales, the first major forest fire of the year already raged in April, much earlier than usual. Last year was already exceptionally dry, but water supplies are usually replenished by winter precipitation. Last winter, however, remained particularly dry.
Other parts of southern Europe are also facing early heat and drought. In Spain, temperatures of over 40 degrees were already recorded in late April. In Catalonia, there was a ban on filling swimming pools as well. After popular protest, this was reversed.
The drought situation in parts of Europe (and the western parts of the US) proves it’s become even more important to take water recycling seriously in the car wash industry.