The lack of rain in recent months is beginning to leave traces. River levels are unusually low for the month of May and even groundwater levels are beginning to slowly decrease.
This leads to considerable declines in levels of sources with potable water.
A very dry winter with only 45 per cent of average rainfall and a subsequent record drought during spring have led to a water shortage.
When the temperatures rose to above 30 degrees Celsius in recent days, the water consumption skyrocketed. After consultation with the water management agency and representatives of the drinking water syndicates, the environment ministry decided to take action.
In a letter to all communes, the ministry issued a series of recommendations.
“We see this as a warning and awareness-raising phase before the actual orange and red warning phases.
”This aims to limit the most serious water wastage such as irrigation of parks, fountains or the use of high-pressure cleaners by community services,” said Environment Minister Carole Dieschbourg.
Around five to ten per cent of consumption could be reduced by these measures alone.
Warning phase in place
During this warning phase, awareness about the water shortage should be raised among the communes and the population before there is a need for restrictions.
If the orange or red phase enter in force, things like car washes, lawn watering or filling up a swimming pool could be prohibited. The orange phase last came into force in 2006.
“We want to point out the importance of the limited resource water and the possibilities to reduce consumption,” said Dieschbourg.
Orange phase in Nommern
The commune of Nommern already had to go one step further. The orange phase has been in effect since Tuesday and was initiated by the communal council.
”Due to the high temperatures, the demand for water was simply above what we get out of the sources,” Bernard Lamborelle, alderman in Nommern, said. ”In addition, due to the dry winter, the sources carry less water than usual.”
A number of prohibitions took effect in the commune, however commercial enterprises are exempt from the prohibition. It’s possible that more communes will follow suit soon. This applies in particular to those who depend on one single water source.
Agriculture is especially affected by the current drought.
Demands for financial aid and lower water prices are however too short-sighted according to Minister Dieschbourg: ”agricultural businesses already pay lower prices for water, although there are differences between the communes.
”Some companies and especially crop farmer were granted exemptions to tap into wells or watercourses. But they must also use that water sparingly,” Dieschbourg said.