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watering a racecourse in the middle of the afternoon raises questions

While the use of water is limited in almost all of the country (91 out of 96 departments), can the racecourses water their tracks, in the middle of the afternoon, to prepare for the races, as it was the case in Caen? Response items.

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A tractor that waters. Nothing more common. In times of drought? It is already more surprising. Is it even legal? Blue gold has become so valuable that the prefectures limit its use.

This photo was taken at the Caen racecourse at 2:32 p.m., Wednesday July 27. Every detail counts. If this same tractor had passed in the morning at 8:55 a.m. or in the evening after 8 p.m. Everything would have been perfect. Pass Madame la Marquise, there is nothing to see.

However, we are in the middle of the afternoon. And the prefectural decree, dated July 22, proves to be precise. In the alert zone (yellow), as in Caen, racetracks can water but at certain times :

  • watering lawns, public and private green spaces, gardens, stadiums, horse tracks and vegetable gardens is prohibited between 10 a.m. and 8 p.m.

If the racecourse or stadium is located in a heightened alert zone (orange), the use of water is restricted to twice a week, Tuesday evening and Thursday evening. In the crisis zone (red), it’s one night a week, Thursday.

Gilles Ribot, director racecourses of Caen and Cabourg, concedes:

I have 200 horses racing today. We have to prepare the ground. Otherwise ? The track is too hard, and the horses risk getting hurt. I had no choice. You have to think about animal welfare.

Gilles Ribot, director of Caen and Cabourg racecourses

That afternoon, its technical services used two 20,000-litre tanks. According to him, it was not possible to respect the schedule indicated by the Prefecture.

” The water must have time to penetrate the track, if you water too early, it is useless. So, what do we do? Do we stop racing? It’s a part of the economy that falls Everyone would lose, the horse racing world and the country’s budget, since part of our activity is donated to the State”.

The racecourse does not belong to the city of Caen, but to Trot, a heavyweight in the horse racing sector, owner of the racecourses of Cabourg, Paris-Vincennes, Enghien and the Grosbois training center. The races do not stop in the summer. Eight races are scheduled in Cabourg, this Friday, July 29. How to do ?

Racecourse management may request exemptions. It is written in smaller on the prefectural decree. Again, certain conditions must be met.

Racecourses must contact the Prefecture, which can grant an exemption if and only if the water reserves used are not refuge areas for biodiversity.

In this case, the technical services of the racecourse pump water from the Odon river, located in La Prairie. Is it considered a refuge for biodiversity?

The French Office for Biodiversity (OFB), the body mandated by the Prefecture to carry out checks on compliance with water restrictions, will study this question.

For its part, the Prefecture indicates that it wants “to take stock of the situation with the owners. If necessary, administrative or legal action may be taken.”

Failure to comply with water restrictions is punishable by a fine: from 1500 euros for an individual to 7500 euros for a professional or a legal person. Charge to the court of law to decide.

This case illustrates once again our dependence on water. Agriculture, energy, industry, tourism, no one is spared. A parliamentary report warned as early as June 2020:

Climate change will intensify and aggravate water scarcity situations.

Parliamentary report – June 2020

Hydrologists, worried, are constantly ringing the alarm bell, inviting us to change course and rethink our consumption.

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