Drought fuels water conflict in France, Spain as farmers face fury
Tensions between environmental campaigners and farmers over the construction of giant irrigation reservoirs have sown division in rural communities in this picturesque part of western France.
Increasingly, water is a source of conflict as droughts pit farmers – among the region's heaviest users of ever-dwindling supplies – against everybody else, raising questions about how water management needs to change as climate change takes hold.
While most farmers in the area are thought to support the reservoirs, some small-scale growers do not, saying that they are losing out to large industrial farms with the money to install and maintain the pumps and pipes to access the water.
For example, storing water underground is better than building reservoirs, he said, to avoid issues like evaporation and algae blooms. Bierkens also called for changes in the crop mix.
"You should not grow melons and strawberries in an arid climate," he explained. Researchers point to alternatives such as carob or millet which can tolerate drier environmental conditions.