This September 2023 marked a year of record-breaking heat in France for such a period. For example, September 4, 2023, was the hottest day ever recorded on average in September, surpassing the previous record from September 1949, with temperatures nearing 40°C in some cities across the country. More broadly, the intense heatwaves that France has experienced in recent months, primarily due to climate change, are compelling authorities to take these new 'climate risks' into account in industrial policy. Facilities subject to environmental protection regulations (ICPE) consume significant amounts of water in their processes and are increasingly facing pressing legal challenges due to the increasing periods of drought. To address drought periods and the depletion of water resources, the government is implementing regulatory mechanisms for the management, assessment, and prevention of water resources. These mechanisms aim to improve crisis management organization and address scarcity situations. To achieve this, a framework decree at the departmental or interdepartmental level designates one or more alert zones and specifies the conditions for triggering temporary water usage restrictions, taking into account various factors such as flow thresholds, data from the flow observation network (ONDE), piezometric levels, hydro-meteorological forecasts, etc. Once the prefect determines that the specified severity level conditions are met, a temporary water usage restriction decree is issued within a maximum of 5 working days. Industrial installations use significant quantities of water in their processes, leading to challenges in balancing economic sustainability with water resource management. It is therefore interesting to consider how ICPEs must adapt and comply with increasingly stringent regulations regarding water management during periods of drought while maintaining their industrial activities and minimizing their environmental impact.

Yes, industrial facilities subject to environmental protection regulations (ICPE) are indeed affected by water usage restriction measures. Article L211-1 of the Environmental Code stipulates that ICPEs are subject to measures promoting the efficient, economical, and sustainable use of water resources, including the reuse of treated wastewater and the use of rainwater. Pursuant to Article L211-3, the protection of these interests is ensured through national or specific prescriptions for certain parts of the territory, established by decree in the State Council.

This publication will take the form of a question-and-answer format.

What measures of restriction can be applied to my ICPE ?

The decree of June 30, 2023, concerning restriction measures during periods of drought, related to water withdrawal and water consumption by installations subject to environmental protection regulations, was published in the Official Journal on July 5, 2023. It applies to ICPEs subject to authorization/registration with an annual total water withdrawal exceeding 10,000 cubic meters.
Among the measures outlined in the decree, Article 2, for example, provides details on the applicable restrictions:

-Vigilance: Increased awareness among personnel regarding rules for responsible and water-saving usage, following a written procedure displayed on-site.
-Alert: 5% reduction in water withdrawal.
-Enhanced Alert: 10% reduction in water withdrawal.
-Crisis: 25% reduction in water withdrawal.

On their part, prefects have two options for imposing restrictions based on Article R211-66 of the Environmental Code: They can make individual decisions when restrictions on specific water consumption by installations, especially those related to "processes," can be implemented. These decisions must result in the issuance of complementary prefectural orders (APCs) to the operating authorization. They can issue general water usage restriction orders, which may be more stringent than the aforementioned ministerial order when local circumstances justify it. In this case, the most restrictive regulatory provisions (between the ministerial order and the prefectural order) apply.
The Propluvia website of the Ministry of Ecological Transition is dedicated to the consultation of drought-related restriction orders.

The Propluvia website is available at the following address: