You are here : Home > Themes > 4. Water > Drought

Nowadays, the economical, rigorous and transparent management of water resources has become a national priority, focusing on the supply of drinking water and the protection of the natural environment, as reflected by recent heat waves and droughts. The Ministry of Ecology, Sustainable Development and Spatial Planning is in charge of coordinating this policy.
In order to be efficient, this management requires the anticipated implementation of a global system under the authority of the Prefects and mobilising all water consumers and users as well as all monitoring services.
With regard to industrial installations, the legislation on classified installations makes it possible to:

  • Define water withdrawal and discharge limitation measures.
  • Verify the permits of major water consuming installations withdrawing from sensitive resources. The reduction in industrial water withdrawal was defined in 2004 as one of the priorities of action for the Inspectorate of classified installations, with the following objectives:
    • prescribe adapted water consumption reduction measures such as activity reduction, recycling or the modification of certain operating methods;
    • prescribe the limitation of the impact of liquid discharge by the capping of discharge flow rates or even by temporary retention. The resulting system has been maintained ever since: in addition to the progressive reduction in industrial water consumption and discharge, over 200 major water consuming installations are subject to a system enabling the reduction in water withdrawal in case of drought.

In 2002, water withdrawal in France was estimated at 33.1 billion m3.

UsagesDrinking waterIndustryIrrigationEnergy production
Volumes withdrawn in billion m3 6.3 3.8 4.5 18.5
Relative share % 19% 12% 14% 55%

However, part of this water is returned into the natural environment: thus, over 50% of the water withdrawn is used for the cooling of thermal and nuclear power plants, while only 20% is actually consumed by this sector. Conversely, agriculture only withdraws 14% of the volume but represents more than half of the volumes consumed. (Source: IFEN)