“We will not escape it, we will have to adapt”: we must prepare for probable shortages of tap water this summer in Hérault

“We will not escape it, we will have to adapt”: we must prepare for probable shortages of tap water this summer in Hérault

The Orb, in Béziers, this winter, before the rains, remained at a very critical level. Free Midday

Twelve municipalities in Hérault are experiencing difficulties this winter. The figure could rise to around a hundred municipalities during the summer period. A state of emergency is declared.

A new milestone has been reached in the concern over the lack of water. Yesterday, at the Bayssan estate, in Béziers, elected officials, entrepreneurs and associated partners in resource management spoke about the crisis after "two years of drought and a third coming this summer", as Christophe Morgo underlined in his introductory remarks.

The departmental vice-president, delegate for the environment and mayor of Villeveyrac, did not seek to avoid reality: &quot ;We are experiencing an acceleration of global warming. We have heavy accumulations of rain in a very short time then very long periods of drought. This phenomenon on the shores of the Mediterranean is going even faster than elsewhere".

Should we continue to urbanize?

The elected official, no more than the personalities who succeeded one another on stage, did not seek to be catastrophic, but the observation is clear: Hérault, like its neighbors in l& rsquo;Aude or Pyrénées-Orientales, is in the red. A lack of water reaching the tap in Cessenon-sur-Orb last summer and the mayor, Marie-Pierre Pons, explained all the difficulties she faced:< em> "We can no longer talk about a crisis, she said. This phenomenon will be present all the time, we will not escape it, we will have to adapt.

Adaptation is the key word of the speakers. And we will have to act hard and quickly. Because a dozen municipalities are still in difficulty in their drinking water supply: "Nine municipalities were, last summer, in total shortage and 50 in partial rupture& ;quot;, underlines Christophe Morgo. It was necessary to transport water to 17 municipalities in 2022, 27 in 2023 and it could be much more this summer: "Of the order of 80 or 100 municipalities", estimates Jean-François Soto, mayor of Gignac, departmental councilor and president of Ingénierie Hérault which supports municipalities facing difficulties: "And when there’s no more water in the tap, it’s not the same problem as a closed bowling alley. There, we are talking about a vital need.

The consequences of which we do not measure: "Can we continue to urbanize, to develop while the resource is lacking ? ", asks the mayor of Montarnaud Jean-Pierre Pugens.

"Prioritize uses"

he mayor of Pégairolles-de-l’Escalette, Frédéric Roig, president of the association of mayors of Hérault, underlined the urgent need "for sharing the’ water between demographic, tourist, agricultural and industrial issues… Do we have to turn off the water at a campsite to have water on tap ?".

In the event of a shortage, it will be necessary to "prioritize uses", as underlined in conclusion by the prefect of Hérault François-Xavier Lauch. Coming to present an emergency plan, he drew up a very complicated inventory: "Before the last rains, the level of drought in Hérault was comparable to that of a month of August", he regretted. In 2050, the climate of Montpellier will be significantly that of Seville with long periods of drought and reinforced Cévennes episodes. Too much water or no water, in short.

But all the speakers also insisted on common solutions that needed to be initiated without delay. To get through the summer but above all, that of the decades to come…

“Historically” low levels according to the BRGM

It has become a habit, on the 15th of each month, to look at the monthly hydrogeological report established by the BRGM (Bureau of Geological and Mining Research). Alas, each time, the map seems to tend ever more towards orange and red, the colors of the crisis, from the Massif Central to the Mediterranean coast. This is all the more obvious for this month of February as (almost) everywhere else the situation is improving. "Only the aquifers of Languedoc and Roussillon maintain lower levels than in February 2023", also specifies the BRGM.

No surprise, "current levels are the consequence of below normal levels during the 2023 low water and of a recharge deficit during autumn and the beginning of winter". In other words, it did not rain enough, particularly in the West Hérault (where the prefect maintained crisis levels) at ; the Spanish border. It’is "very worrying on the limestone layers of the Corbières massif and the Roussillon plain", whereù some points even reach historically low levels .

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