Update on water restrictions

Although some rain has fallen, the drought (sécheresse) continues across the Pyrénées-Orientales, so we must continue to respect the restrictions on water usage, in place from Wednesday 10th May.

If you saw our April Fool’s water article, this is not an extension of that. Here we present a fact-based report of what the local authorities have announced.

Water Restrictions in Pyrenees Orientales, Roussillon, Western Pyrenees, France 2023

Current situation

The current drought has been affecting the P-O since back in June 2022. It is the longest and most intense water shortage since monitoring began back in 1959.

Ours is the only département in France that has not lifted water restrictions since June and the only département to be on constant high alert since 23rd February.

Rainfall over the past 12 months is between 60% and 65% down on the previous year.

The drought crisis status is in place from Wednesday 10th May, until Tuesday 13th June at the earliest, with the aim to “achieve maximum water savings with a minimum economic, social and environmental impact”.

As well as the legal restrictions (detailed below), the Prefet calls on each individual to reduce their water consumption in anticipation of the water insufficiency that we are set to experience between now and the summer.

Drinking water and fire safety must be prioritised in our collective water usage.

Crisis map

Following the latest prefectoral meeting, the map below shows the latest levels of drought crisis in the different communes of the Pyrénées-Orientales.

Red is the highest level – crisis.
Dark orange is the second highest level – reinforced alert
Grey requires vigilance on the part of residents

drought map


Translated from the original press release from the Préfet des Pyrénées-Orientales, which clearly states that the measures are for the whole department, regardless of level of alert (“Ci-dessous le détail des mesures prises sur l’ensemble du département”).

Watering (except agricultural irrigation)

The following usages are FORBIDDEN:

  • Watering lawns, roundabouts, parks, ornamental gardens, flower beds and boxes, both private and public.
  • Watering trees and shrubs. Exception : certain local authorities may water plants planted within the last 2 years up to a limit of 20% of usual volume between 8pm and 2am and subject to the laying of a plant mulch to limit evaporation).
  • Watering vegetable patches. Exception: certain communes may allow the watering of vegetable gardens for food use by individuals. This special authorisation will be granted  by individual mayors, for a maximum of two days a week, between 8pm and 2am. The water used cannot come from an irrigation canal.
  • Watering sports terrains of all kinds with the exception of one field per facility and golf courses, which can be watered between 8pm and 2am but only if the water is entirely recycled.


The following usages are FORBIDDEN:

  • Cleaning terraces, facades, rooves and roads not under construction. Those that are undergoing work can be cleaned, taking all necessary precautions to minimise water usage and wastage. Exceptions: roads and terraces can be cleaned in case of sanitary imperatives, again taking all necessary precautions to minimise water usage and wastage.
  • Washing of vehicles by private individuals. Exception: washing in professional washing stations equipped with a water recycling system (minimum 70% recycled water).
  • Washing of all water vehicles (boats, jet-skis, etc.), whether motorised or not. Exception : in case of sanitary imperatives, and the provision of a freely accessible drinking water supply on port pontoons.

Swimming pools, ponds and bodies of water

The following usages are FORBIDDEN:

  • Filling and topping up of water for all swimming pools and basins for private use (individual houses, gites, co-ownership, furnished accommodation). Exception: new pool constructions started before the 10th May 2023 can be filled once if not filling the pool represents a structural risk to the finished construction.
  • Selling, renting or installing individual pools and ponds. Companies can continue to stock pools within the framework of their professional activity, with a view to their commercial sale, once the suspension is lifted.
  • Using jacuzzis and spas if not connected to a total water recovery/recycling system.

The following usages are ALLOWED:

  • Topping up of collective pools (municipal, hotels, campsites, tourist residences, leisure parks etc.). Topping up is strictly limited to within the drought good practices as decreed by the Agence régionale de santé (ARS). Footbaths are exempt from all restrictions.
  • Emptying swimming pools into the natural environment, subject to the prior approval of the ARS based on chlorine, pH and other chemical products present in the water.

Special provisions for waterways

The following usages are FORBIDDEN:

  • Withdrawing water for domestic use. Exception: drinking water for animals.
  • Modifying the bed of a waterway, including dams or reserves. Modifications required for irrigation repair work may be authorised on a case-by-case basis.
  • Locking or operating gates of hydraulic structures (mills, ponds, micro power stations etc.) if this risks aggravating the level of water loss.
  • Emptying used water of all kinds into waterways.

Other uses

The following usages are FORBIDDEN:

  • Showers and washing facilities at the beach.
  • Public and private fountains, including closed circuits.
  • Using agricultural water for non-agricultural purposes.
  • Drilling new water bores without prior authorisation in reinforced alert and crisis zones.

The following usages are ALLOWED:

  • Fire hydrants, but these may only be operated by emergency services. Testing is to be postponed as far as possible but remain authorised in the case of fire security.
  • Water network purging and cleaning are limited to the strict necessary.
  • Interventions on water treatment plants are subject to prior authorisation.

Agricultural use

The following usages are ALLOWED:

  • Watering of animals, without restriction.
  • Watering of market garden crops in open fields with a % reduction based on the type of irrigation system in place (see original communique for detail).
  • Watering of above-ground crops without reducing withdrawals by 30%.
  • Watering of trees, shrubs and vines planted less than 3 years old, with a 50% reduction in withdrawals.
  • Watering of older trees, shrubs and vines with a % reduction based on the type of irrigation system in place(see original communique for detail).


  1. Is the water restriction still in place in Coustouges (22/06/2023), thanks.

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