Typically Rainy Parts of Europe Facing Deepening Drought, Water Restrictions

Precipitation forecast for July to September 2022.

Precipitation forecast for July to September 2022. The European Commission's Joint Research Centre

The UK, Germany, and the Netherlands, three countries accustomed to regular rainfall, are seeing intense drought this summer, with unusually dry conditions expected to persist through September.

Last month was the driest July since 1935 across the UK and the driest July on record in the south of England, according to the UK Met Office. Southeast England, the hardest-hit region, saw less than one-tenth of its average July rainfall, spurring the regional water utility to ban its customers from using sprinklers and hoses.

In the Netherlands, 2022 ranks among the driest years ever. Officials have declared a water shortage, with some parts of the country limiting water use among farmers and officials discouraging the use of hoses.

“The Netherlands is a land of water, but here too our water is precious,” Mark Harbers, minister of infrastructure and water management, said in a statement. “That is why I ask all Dutch people to think carefully about whether they should wash their car or fill their inflatable swimming pool completely.”

In July, Germany received less than half as much rainfall as was typical historically, while neighboring France had its driest July since 1959. The drought has lowered water levels on the Rhine River, which is fed by streams in France, Germany, and the Alps, forcing barges to lighten their loads to avoid running aground. Some ships are traveling only 25 percent full, Reuters reports.

“River discharge in multiple countries is severely affected [by the drought], with stored water volumes also depleted,” the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre said in a statement. “While drought mitigation strategies are of the utmost importance now, so is tackling the root cause of the problem: climate change and its disruption of the planet’s water cycle.”

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