The Czech Republic, like most of Europe, continues to face serious problems related to the drawn-out period of drought. Nearly 60 municipalities around the country have already introduced measures restricting the use of drinking water. The cabinet addressed the issue at its first session after the summer holidays on Wednesday.
According to the document, July was two degrees warmer than in the past 30 years, while rainfall levels dropped by over 50 percent below average. Hydrological drought, meaning abnormally low levels of water flow, has been declared on more than 50 percent of the country’s water streams.
High temperatures and lack of rain have also had a significant impact on groundwater resources. In an interview for Czech Television, Environment Minister Richard Brabec reassured the public that the supply of water from larger reservoirs, such as Želivka, has not been affected. He admitted, however, that municipalities dependent on wells are already feeling the impact of the drought.
In many places, water towers are having to be filled from water tanks. Sixty municipalities have already been forced to introduce bans on using mains water for watering gardens, filling swimming pools or washing cars. Most recently, the ban was introduced in six villages in the Tišnov region South Moravia, with a set limit of 100 litres of water a day per person.
Iva Šebková, spokeswoman for Water Treatment Services (Vodárenská akciová společnost), says the lack of rain and high temperatures have already affected groundwater resources, used to supply local water pipes:
“What we are most concerned about is the use of water to fill swimming pools. It is really inconsiderate towards the other inhabitants, who could be left completely without water.”
The government report calls for a speedy construction of new water reservoirs and for increasing the capacity of the existing ones. This could be the case of Nové Mlýny, three reservoirs on the Dyje River in South Moravia, where the capacity could be raised by up to nine million cubic metres of water. Such a step could significantly improve the situation around the Czech Republic’s second biggest town of Brno, says Agriculture Minister Miroslav Toman:
“We don’t have to build a new dam. We could increase the capacity of the existing one to the former level, which would be enough to provide water to approximately 1,000 hectares of vineyards and fruit orchards.
“We are also searching for new localities to build new water reservoirs and we want to adopt measures that would simplify the process of building smaller ponds of up to two hectares.”
Despite the current measures debated by the cabinet, representatives of the opposition TOP09 party and the Pirates say the government is not doing enough to fight the continuing drought, arguing that to achieve any far-reaching changes, a complete change of landscape management is required.