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Efficient water management is a serious issue for countries worldwide and dealing with water loss can be a significant challenge. France is apparently one of the countries facing this problem, as a recent study revealed that 20 percent of its drinking water is lost through leaks in pipelines.

According to the Connexion France, this adds up to about 1.3 billion liters of drinking water every year — an amount that could fill 430,000 Olympic-sized swimming pools. The average amount of water lost is above the national target of 15 percent, set for all prefectures in 2010.

The study, published by consumer magazine 60 millions de consommateurs, used information provided by France's National Office for Water and Aquatic Environments to track which prefectures failed to meet the target. It found that one in four prefectures failed to prevent water loss exceeding 25 percent of the water intended to reach consumers. The worst performing prefectures were Digne-les-Baines, in Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, which lost as much as 54 percent of water, and Bar-le-Duc, in Meuse, where 48 percent of water leaked through pipes. By contrast, Le Mans and Rennes both managed to restrict water loss to four percent.

The study claimed that France needed to increase investment in repair work and replacement of water infrastructure in order to address the problem. It estimated that the annual investment required to serve that purpose would range between EUR1.5 billion and EUR2 billion.