France faces worst drought on record

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France faces worst drought on record

French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne has warned France is facing its most severe drought on record, and has called for the activation of a government crisis unit.

Ms Borne said in a written statement on Friday that many areas in France were going through a historic situation as the country endured its third heatwave this summer.

The statement said that the drought that we are currently experiencing is depriving many municipalities of water and is a tragedy for our farmers, our ecosystems and biodiversity.

The statement stressed that the heat could be more worrying as forecasts suggest that the heat could continue for the next 15 days.

The crisis unit of government will be in charge of monitoring the situation in the hardest hit areas and coordinating measures like bringing drinking water to some places.

It will also be looking at the impact of the drought on France's energy production, transport infrastructure and agriculture.

French energy giant EDF said on Friday it had to temporarily cut power production at two nuclear plants that use river water to cool reactors.

The group warned that at least one more plant could be affected in the coming days due to high temperatures in the Rhone River.

After a major heatwave in 2003, France's nuclear safety agency set temperature limits at 28 degrees Celsius for rivers, beyond which power plants were required to reduce their production in order to not make the water warmer and preserve the environment.

Some plants can raise their limit by a few degrees during exceptional situations, such as when France relies on nuclear energy for 70 per cent of its electricity, more than any other country.

France has 62 regions with restrictions on water usage due to the lack of rain.

Depending on local situations, restrictions range from irrigation bans during the warmer hours of the day to using water only for the population, livestock and keeping aquatic species alive.

Christophe B chu, minister for ecological transition, said during a visit to south-eastern France that more than 100 municipalities were not able to provide drinking water to the tap anymore and need to be supplied by truck.

The more we make drinking water priority over other uses, the worse the situation is, he said.