Water-strapped France gets tough on lawn owners


Residents across most of the country are being called on to save water and the police are making the rounds to ensure they are.

Most of France has now been put on drought alert in an effort to mitigate the impact of an increasingly devastating dry spell. All but three of the country’s 96 departments are encouraging or outright ordering residents to save water, the nation’s Ministry of Ecological Transition said on Thursday. The police have been tasked with monitoring compliance with the restrictions.

Like many other European countries, France has faced extreme heat waves and droughts this summer, which have prompted water restrictions to be introduced. Four levels have been designated: vigilance, alert (yellow), heightened alert (orange), and crisis (red).

“As of July 28, 2022, 93 departments have introduced restrictions beyond vigilance level at least in some part of their territory: 9 were put on alert, 38 on heightened alert, and 46 are in crisis state,” the ministry indicated.

The police are now routinely making the rounds to inspect local neighborhoods, according to media reports.

The TV broadcaster BFM said that law enforcement was trying to prevent locals from watering their lawns by “looking for the smallest jet of water.” According to Jean-Noel Rieffel, regional director of the French Office of Biodiversity, in most cases the police only remind locals about the restrictions but will take action in the event of repeated infractions. Violators may face a fine of up to €1,500 ($1,531).

It’s not only private citizens that are being watched. According to the report, law enforcement agents have inspected a golf course, while in another instance police stumbled upon an artificial pond that used water from a nearby river, which is strictly prohibited.


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