Sunday, August 03, 2003
Judicious use of water
Everywhere there is foliage. Even though this is one of the driest parts of Europe, it is also the greenest. Every street is lined with trees; public areas are stacked with bushes and all the bushes are in frantic flower. Our landlord insisted that our garden be laid to lawn. Grass in the South of France is a fantasy. We have an automatic ‘arrosage’ system which pops up out of the ground twice a day and sprays the lawns with water for three quarters of an hour. The first year, this cost us €1200 (about £800) in water charges alone. Crazy.All this public greenery is fed by hidden drip-feed systems that supply millions of litres of water into the parched earth.
Unlike in England, there is never a hose-pipe ban (our neighbours consider this to hint at the fall of society), never a drop in the quality of water. The reservoir that feeds Cannes serves also as a freshwater swimming resort. Last week it was a clear two metres down from the previous visit. Much of the water has been scooped up by the ‘Canadairs’ and dropped on the blazing forests of Var.
Britain doesn’t know anything like this. When it gets to 30°, water becomes short, hose-pipe bans are announced and everyone stops working because of the heat.