Drought: measures adopted by the City of Toulon to conserve water

Lawns are watered daily, bright green spaces and abundant flowing fountains. Although a large part of the department is placed on drought alert (placed in a state of “alert” by the prefecture, under incentive measures for water conservation rather than Toulon restrictions, editor’s note), does the city of Toulon really measure the necessary water use and restrictions during this crisis?

For Mayor Hubert Falco, the answer is yes: “All of our fountains are made from recycled water. It was a long-term task but, today, we no longer use the resource. We have even equipped the new fountain with an anemometer at the end of the bazailles, so that in case of strong winds the water will cut off and not flow into the street.”.

“Green spaces need to be maintained”

Regarding the lawn, the first magistrate confirmed that caution was also required: “When we can, we install synthetic turf, such as at Villeville. Same for our stadiums. Even Mayol will be there next year. As for the rest, we are very careful in cold water.”. The result, visible on the beach, in the park or in the roundabout, is a grass that is closely cut, bright, that displays full of chlorophyll.

And if some experts believe that this practice is hardly compatible with the Mediterranean climate, Hubert Falco has other arguments: “We are constantly looking for a balance between fighting heat waves and fighting drought. To limit heat islands, we are told we need plants. But green spaces need to be maintained!”

In this regard, the City Councilor further assured that “Mediterranean species are preferred”. For faulty sprinklers, which will wet the tar more than the plants (“Unfortunately, it happens.”), they will be tracked by a dedicated team.

Closed shower at Mourillon

Finally, at the town hall, we explain that we have decided to close three quarters of the showers installed on the beach. Due to the lack of fresh water to remove the salt, bathers are entitled to a small interpretive panel.

For Hubert Falco, however, this is not essential: “One may wonder what emergency measures should be taken in case of drought. We are concerned about this throughout the year, especially by modernizing the drinking water network so that there are no leaks. Our return rate today exceeds 80%.”. Since 2001, 472 kilometers of pipelines have been replaced, according to the town hall.

Nicola Watte, vice-president of the French Landscape Federation: “A lawn that acts as an island of freshness in the city is always better than asphalt…”

Beausset’s landscape-designer, Nicolas Watté is also vice-president of the French Landscape Federation. We asked him what he thought of the way Toulon was vegetating.

Do you think Toulon takes the “drought” issue seriously?
I know, working with him, the city of Toulon is committed to this issue of proper water and urban comfort provided by plants. It’s not perfect, but the transition is underway.

Isn’t all the grass in the city environmental crap?
The lawn gets a bad press. But I’m all for lawn if it benefits the users. A lawn that serves as an island of freshness in the center of the city, where children can play or adults can sit, is always better than sand or asphalt surfaces. In this, grass is allowed in the park or in front of Morillon’s beach.

Same for an all-green roundabout, watered every day?
This, in my opinion, is a luxury we can no longer afford. What does it bring? If it’s just for eye comfort, you can install a floor with thyme or Mediterranean plants. And if you really want a lawn, there are tips for reducing water consumption.

A yellow lawn is not doomed; He may come back to life later. So you don’t have to water every day. And then, you have to be careful not to cut it too close, which weakens the flora and biodiversity. Regarding watering, technological solutions can also be applied.

What is this technical solution?
It is possible to water the lawn from below, with a buried drip. It reduces water consumption by 30%. This will force the grass to drink deeply, and it will limit some adverse effects, such as the spread of mosquitoes or if the waste nozzle is incorrectly adjusted.

What about synthetic turf?
This is a false good idea. It’s still plastic, and it gets very hot, almost like asphalt. In addition, before installing it, you must remove the earth and put stones. Not to mention it’s not recyclable. It is only in the field of sports where it shows its usefulness.

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