AFP, published on Thursday, August 11, 2022 at 12:42
“As a child I never would have imagined having a swimming pool!” Clotilde marvels as she sprays her nephew in the brand new family pool in Verlinghem (North). Favored by rising temperatures, these constructions are multiplying in the Hauts-de-France, raising questions at a time when France is running out of water.
Orange bracelets and laughter, Basile, 3 years old, turns over the water in the arms of his father. “This pool gives another dynamism to family life,” says Clotilde Sanz. For her, her sisters, her children, her father’s house has been for a few months “even more a place of life, of meeting.”
Born of confinement, “this project changes our lives. As soon as we wake up, we are on vacation!”, His father, Frédéric Sanz, is excited, who will now hesitate “much more” to travel in summer.
“Since the Covid-19 crisis, we have multiplied our sales by seven,” confirms Vincent Brisse, commercial director of “Sensassion Piscine”, its installer. “When I started in 2003, we were selling about twenty a year. Today, there are more than a hundred.
According to the Federation of Swimming Pool Professionals (FPP), of the 3.2 million private pools existing in France at the end of 2021, 135,000 were in Hauts-de-France, compared to less than 30,000 in 2005.
– “Crap” –
Only 7% of individual houses are now equipped with it in the region, but rising temperatures are helping to “develop the market”, observes FPP General Delegate Joëlle Pulinx-Chalett.
“Swimming pools have also become smaller, cheaper,” offering “the possibility for less well-off customers to access them,” says Laurent Piette, seller of “kit” pools.
In a garden with burnt grass in Leforest (Pas-de-Calais), he helps a client to finish his swimming pool. This part of the department is not yet on “drought alert”, leaving the possibility of filling it.
“We always act against the wall. Restrictive measures must be taken well in advance,” laments Arnaud Gauthier, professor-researcher in the field of water at the University of Lille.
At a time when France is experiencing its worst drought since 1959, “building swimming pools is nonsense,” he says. Some French municipalities “are even actively considering modifying local urban plans to limit their construction,” she notes.
In 2020, each French person consumed an average of 148 liters of drinking water per day (54 m3/year), according to the National Observatory of Water and Sanitation Services (Sispea). With significant geographical disparities: 232 liters in the Maritime Alps, compared to 116.6 in the North. “The climate, the potential impact of swimming pools”, they explain it in part, according to Sispea.
– “scapegoat” –
“Private swimming pools represent 0.1% of total water consumption in France,” replies Joëlle Pulinx-Chalett. If the first filling is for consumption (about 45 m3), the water is only renewed a third each year.
“This can represent 15% of a family’s consumption,” analyzes Nicolás Roche, a researcher at the European Center for Research and Education in Environmental Geosciences (CEREGE). But “watering your 100m2 lawn for a month will consume ten times more”, he adds, calling to “avoid the scapegoat policy”.
Water, essential for all activities, will be more scarce in the future and “priority uses must be designated” locally, he stresses. He advocates “giving water an environmental value”, with a fluctuating price in summer, “when it is less available”, and depending on the uses, “essential” or “recreational”.
In the Artois-Picardie basin, “the volume available annually is now fully used, we no longer have any margin”, warns the director of the Regional Water Agency, Thierry Vatin. A third is consumed during the summer, mainly for agriculture, whose needs are increasing. “With excess recreational uses on top of that, we’re overexploiting.”
“We have the goal of reducing consumption by 10% in six years,” he says. The division between types of users must be decided soon within “local commissions” that include all parties. “Everyone will have to save money.”
Some elected officials advocate progressive pricing: a free volume of water for essential needs, then a high price above a certain threshold.
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