Government announces new water restrictions for Monaco

The Government of Monaco hopes the new measures will reduce the Principality's water consumption by 20%. (Photo © Pixabay)

Washing cars, watering lawns, filling pools… Here is what will be banned in Monaco from Saturday 13 May.

Don’t be fooled by the rainy weather we’ve been having this week. The Principality, like the neighbouring Département, Alpes-Maritimes, is experiencing an exceptional drought, a direct consequence of global warming. “This is not restricted to our territory,” Minister of State Pierre Dartout told the press he had invited to his residence on Thursday 11 May. “The drought is also affecting Spain, Italy and, more widely, all the countries around the western Mediterranean.”

All of these countries have taken measures to save water, which has become a scarce commodity, and it is now Monaco’s turn to present its own. Modelled on what France has put in place, four levels have been defined:

1. Vigilance

2. Alert

3. High alert

4. Emergency

A sovereign ordinance, to be published in the Official Journal on Friday 12 May, will declare a level 2 alert as of this weekend. It places the following restrictions on individuals and professionals:

  • A ban on watering lawns, flowerbeds, planters and parks, as well as sports fields, between 8 am and 8 pm
  • A ban on washing recreational or professional boats or watercraft outside the designated time slots
  • A total ban on washing buildings and cars
  • A ban on filling private and public bodies of water, swimming pools and spas. Please note that the showers at the beach will still function, for hygiene reasons.
  • Changes to the SMA’s street cleaning practices

These are good habits for the long term, because as the Minister of State pointed out, “this rainfall shortage is bound to recur”, and should the situation worsen in the coming weeks or even months, the authorities will show no hesitation in declaring level 3, or “high alert”.

As Céline Caron-Dagioni pointed out, 70% of the water used in Monaco comes from elsewhere, from the sources of the Roya, Vésubie and Var rivers. The remaining 30% comes from the Principality’s five springs. A sixth was recently discovered and could potentially be used in the future.

Would it be possible to desalinate sea water in Monaco?

Saudi Arabia, for example, uses desalination extensively. Could this solution be envisaged in the Principality? A pseudo-good idea according to the Prince’s Government, which has concerns about the environmental impact of the process.

“Desalination uses a lot of energy and storing the salt residue would be an environmental problem. We don’t want to rule out the idea completely but for the time being we prefer to focus on saving water and reusing wastewater,” said the Minister of Public Works, the Environment and Urban Development, adding that the personal use of desalination devices is strictly forbidden.