Winter drought plagues France's longest river
STORY: From above, the Loire River – the longest in France – seems to have more sandbanks than actual water.
Normally, the Loire River would be teeming with water toward the end of February as winter snow melts. But on Wednesday, drone footage showed patches of sand, inciting worries of water shortage among locals.
"I'm scared, I feel like we'll lack water, it's unacceptable. I've never seen this. Often at this time of year, as the snow melts, there's a lot of water. But right now, it's shocking to see the waters in the Loire so low."
France is facing one of its worst winter droughts in history, counting 32 consecutive days with total precipitation below 1 millimeter -- a record since 1959, according to weather service Meteo France.
On the Loire on Wednesday, some boats stood still by the banks of the river, as some fishermen temporarily gave up on catching fish.
"There's no fishing left. Back in the day, the water levels were high, the water was murky and we caught fish. Right now, it's no good, we can't fish anymore at least for now. The water is too low, the guys can no longer catch fish. The water is just too low.”
The situation is being described as a rare occurrence by hydrologist Vazken Andreassian – who says locals should be prepared to cut back.
"The population will most certainly face water use restrictions. So, if you have to go to a wedding, you'll have to go to the wedding with a dirty car, because you won't be allowed you to wash your car. Then, if you have a swimming pool, you will probably be banned from filling it."
Last week, French President Emmanuel Macron called for a so-called "water sobriety plan,” which could involve better ways of recycling rainwater and fixing leaks in water systems.
Andreassian says normal rainfall soon could offer some relief, but he worries about the months ahead.
After last year’s intense heatwaves battered the country over the summer, even more intense droughts could be on the way.