Preventing water crises
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Preventing water crises

Are Europe's rivers also at the risk of running dry?

Climate change is increasingly making itself felt in Europe, too: flash floods, heat waves, droughts and forest fires are on the rise on the continent.

After the heat wave at the end of June, already designated historic, the second half of July saw a second one sweep across the European continent, setting new temperature records in the South of France, in Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands, too. In a number of European countries, the extreme heat has reduced the water yield of large rivers.

The eastern regions of Germany are supplied with water by the Elbe and the Oder rivers, but their water levels were already low before the heat waves set in. Drought had already caused major damage in German agriculture last year, and now experts warn that the residential water supply could also be at risk.

New temperature records were recorded in the South of France, for instance in Bordeaux. Alarming images published by the AFP news agency showed the bed of the Loire, the country’s longest river which crosses a number of regions, almost completely dry at Montjean-sur-Loire, not far from the Atlantic Ocean.

The bed of the Loire is almost completely dry at Montjean-sur-Loire, not far from the Atlantic Ocean Photo: AFP/Loïc Venance

The crisis is not limited to Western Europe: the rivers of Poland are also very low. At Warsaw, the Vistula’s water level is so low that it is close to drying out.

The Vistula’s water level is extremely low at Warsaw
Screenshot: Euronews

The low water level of rivers has an adverse effect on transportation and therefore on trading and the economy, too, as the countries along the Rhine, which connects Switzerland with the Dutch sea ports, had to face the issue caused by the reduction of the river’s water levels.

Major cities that could share the fate of Cape Town

Cape Town’s historic water crisis was a wake-up call for the entire world. Something that had previously been unimaginable happened. If the targets set in the Paris Agreement are not reached, there is reason to fear that many other major cities could suffer a similar fate within a few decades. The example of Cape Town is a timely warning that chronic water shortages are already just around the corner.

Innovative solution: The Water Retainer in Morocco

Only 1 percent of the World’s water is available fresh water and 70 percent of that is used by agriculture. Morocco is one of the countries facing the crises of less rain, drier topsoil and increasing population.

The last drops: seven bodies of water threatened by drying up

Climate change is increasingly depleting the water resources of the world – in many places, drinking water shortages are already a serious problem. The shocking images below tell a story about Earth’s largest bodies of water that we can no longer ignore.

What will become of you, Africa?

We have known for some time that a number of countries in Africa are particularly vulnerable to the effects of global warming on account of their positions alone. A recent study warns that the situation is even worse than we had previously thought.

Water scarcity leading to political conflict

Political tension caused by water shortages was also a feature of the history of the 20th century, and today, there is fighting in a number of zones where the lack of water was one of the initial causes of the conflict.

Hundreds of Australian towns face water crisis

Up to 180 thousand people may be left without drinking water due to the severe drought.

Water shortage threatens the Panama Canal

Extreme drought is putting one of the world’s most important trade routes at risk.

Extremely low water levels on the River Maros

The characteristic sand banks of the river have grown larger, some branches have dried out completely.

Millions left without water in Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe’s capital city, Harare, shut down its main water works on 23 September citing shortages of foreign currency to import chemicals required for water treatment. The situation may not only lead to a severe water shortage for the population, but also increases the risks of diseases carried by contaminated water, such as cholera.

European farming could suffer 16 percent loss by 2050 due to climate change

A comprehensive report by the European Environment Agency claims that over the next 30 years, agricultural yields could drop by up to 16 percent in Europe due to the phenomena accompanying climate change.