French lake dries up due to winter drought

STORY: France's Lake Montbel is drying up

due to a historical winter drought marked by very low rainfall

Date: March 2023

(Xavier Rouja, Lake dam technical manager)

"We are only currently at 15 million cubic meters (of water in the lake), which represents about 25% of the maximum filling rate. At this time of year, we are usually closer to a 60% filling rate. Forty million cubic meters, so a very marked deficit."

Lake Montbel was created in 1985 by flooding what used to be a forested area

in order to secure a steady water supply for the region’s fields

Since then, it has become a popular tourist attraction

(Claude Carriere, Volunteer sailing instructor)

"We have a magnificent body of water when it's full. It's fabulous. It is a haven of peace, a place of leisure and relaxation. And when you see it like that, it's sad. It looks more like a muddy desert than anything. And that breaks our hearts in a way."

France has recorded the longest winter drought since 1959

joining a host of other European countries experiencing severe weather conditions

Local farmers worry how dryness will impact their spring-planted crops

(Christophe Mascarenc, Cereal farmer) "Lake Montbel, in fact, is the guarantee of income. This should be clear. Without water, in our region, our farms are not viable. If tomorrow, we have to do without water, many, many of our farms would collapse and disappear."