Known for its Tour de France, Eiffel Tower, natural wonders and great wealth, no one would ever suspect that the water quality in France is so poor.

The poor water quality might not be evident at first as most of the population enjoys clean water. In 2014, it was recorded that 98 percent of the population in France have access to clean water, a 280,000 person increase from 2012.

In the same year, 95 percent of households in France reported having a water supply that conforms to legal standards.

With such a high population enjoying clean water, where is the water quality in France considered so bad? The answer is not in modern, urban areas, but rather the forgotten rural areas where the agriculture industry reigns.

Approximately 1.5 million people, or five percent of France’s population, are drinking polluted water. Most of these people live in the rural areas of eastern or southern France in addition to the agricultural areas surrounding Paris where 20 percent or more of the population drink contaminated water. Additionally, 63 percent of homes have polluted water-accounting for around 900,000 people.

Experts noted that the cause of the contaminated water, in towns with less than 500 people, is due to the fact that these agricultural areas are exposed to high levels of pesticides and nitrates from fertilizers and livestock manure.

Additional contamination factors are said to be from natural radioactive chemicals and lime, which creates hard water residue on drinking glasses.

Although the contamination rate has fallen 35 percent since 2012, the quality gap is deafening and not much is being done for rural areas.

On the brighter side, the areas where France has improved water quality is due to the improvement of pollution control and reforming water standards. Over the past decade, France has made a huge investment in water treatment and control of the use of pesticides and chemicals that may contaminate the water. France has also improved their water quality through piped household connections, public taps, tube wells, protected dug wells, protected springs and rainwater collection.

With these new improvements to the water quality in France, the country continues to find solutions for clean and drinkable water.

Amira Wynn

Photo: Flickr