Independent Online Edition >Now French Rivers are Running Dry
Rivers and reservoirs are running dry in France as a severe drought aggravates the heavy demand put on water supplies by French farmers.
In the south and east of France, departments that used to be animal-rearing country have steadily converted in the past two decades to large fields growing wheat and corn to take advantage of subsidies for cereals farming.
Corn, especially, demands huge amounts of water - about 1,000 cubic metres for every acre. Long, humped-back watering machines in northern and western France in the past 20 years.
Water tables have been pumped out faster than they used to be, while the more elaborate and efficient systems of field drainage have meant much of the rain that does fall runs off straight into streams, rivers and then the sea, rather than sinking into the sub-soil and the water tables, which supply reservoirs.
In some places cereal-growers have been banned from using public water supplies. Many took the public-spirited decision not to plant maize this year after the dry winter and spring. If the climate changes in France become permanent it will mean that farming patterns will have to change permanently.