Swiss cantons sound the alarm over record low water levels in rivers

Swiss cantons sound the alarm over record low water levels in rivers

Swiss cantons are sounding the alarm after an extended period of warm weather has left lakes and rivers running dry across the country. A lack of rainfall in recent weeks and months has worried experts, who fear that water shortages and large forest fires could be on the horizon.

Ticino and Valais most at risk of forest fires

With temperatures predicted to be over 30 degrees in some Swiss cities this week, it’s unsurprising that there is an increased risk of forest fires. Cantons Ticino and Valais have been placed on high alert, with officials warning the amount of water available to combat any fires is dwindling. 

A number of events and festivals have already been cancelled because of the heatwave, and officials announced on Wednesday that the use of boats on Lake Brenets in Neuchâtel will no longer be possible due to a lack of water. Many cantons are keeping a close eye on the situation so that shortages can be avoided.

“We have automatic level measuring stations on various bodies of water that we use to monitor the water levels. They show low water levels, but it still carries enough water, so we have not yet raised an alarm. However, this may change in the next few days,” a spokesperson from Canton Solothurn stated.

Saving water at the top of the agenda for local Swiss governments

Some local authorities have started to draw up plans to encourage people to be more conservative with water, while other communities are taking it upon themselves to start rationing supplies. In the streets of Ticino, there are now posters asking people to use as little water as possible, in an attempt to avoid the possibility of shortages as the summer continues.

In Canton Fribourg, communities that rely on local springs and natural sources of groundwater have started to work together to ration and conserve their water supply. "Individual communities have called on the population to save water or have already banned washing cars, filling up the swimming pool or watering the lawn to ensure that there is enough drinking water for households," cantonal spokeswoman Rachel Brulhart explained.

Emily Proctor


Emily Proctor

Emily grew up in the UK before moving abroad to study International Relations and Chinese. She then obtained a Master's degree in International Security and gained an interest in journalism....

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