France is going through its worst drought ever, says the Prime Minister

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PARIS — French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne warned Friday that France was facing the “worst drought” ever recorded in the country and announced the activation of a government crisis unit.

Borne said many parts of France are going through a “historic situation” as the country experiences its third heat wave this summer.

“The exceptional drought we are currently experiencing is depriving many municipalities of water and is a tragedy for our farmers, our ecosystems and biodiversity,” she said in a statement.

Weather forecasts suggest that the heat, which increases evaporation and water requirements, could continue for the next 15 days, perhaps making the situation even more worrying, the statement said.

The government’s crisis unit will be responsible for monitoring the situation in the hardest hit areas and will coordinate measures such as the supply of drinking water in certain places.

It will also monitor the impact of the drought on France’s energy production, transport infrastructure and agriculture.

The drought could force French energy giant EDF to cut power output at nuclear power plants that use river water to cool reactors.

France now has 62 regions with restrictions on water use due to lack of rain.

The Minister for Ecological Transition, Christophe Béchu, declared during a visit to the south-east of France that more than 100 municipalities are no longer able to provide drinking water from the tap and must supply themselves by truck.

“The worse the situation, the more we prioritize drinking water over other uses,” he said.

The month of July was marked by a record rainfall deficit in France. With just 9.7 millimeters (0.3 inches) of rain according to the national weather agency Météo France, rainfall is down 84% from the average figures for the same month over the past three decades.

Météo France said July 2022 was the second driest month since measurements began in 1958-1959.

Farmers across the country are reporting greater difficulty feeding livestock due to a lack of fresh grass and are seeing lower yields, especially in unirrigated fields and in crops that require a lot of water like the corn.

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