Across much of Switzerland there has been almost no rain or snow for more than a month. A Swiss hydrologist thinks it’s time to start thinking about conserving water, reported RTS.
This winter has seen much less precipitation than normal, leaving experts concerned about the level of ground water across the country.
Although the current lack of water is not visible and is having no impact on daily life, it is likely to cause issues later in the year, thinks Grégoire Mariethoz, a hydrologist and professor at the Institute of Earth Surface Dynamics at UNIL, a university in Lausanne.
Normally underground aquifers, underground layers of water-bearing, rock, gravel and silt, are replenished over winter. Even if it rains heavily in summer it will not be enough to replenish ground water, according to Mariethoz. Summer rain evaporates and is soaked up by summer vegetation, so it’s difficult for rain to get through to aquifers. And without ground water there is likely to be a summer water shortage.
Climate change modelling suggests Switzerland will continue to get around the same amount of annual precipitation as average temperatures rise, but receive more rain in winter and less in summer. This winter is at odds with the models. But the models also predict wild swings with periods of heavy rain and very dry periods.
The expert suggests Switzerland learn to save water by recycling waste water to help get through dry spells. It might also make sense to drill deeper wells to access water further down, he said.
At the same time Switzerland is in a much better position than some of its neighbours. France, for example, has many large flat areas with no natural water storage. Italy has similar regions.
The only region in Switzerland exposed to similar risks is the Jura. This geology of this region is made up of a lot of flint and karst rocks. These rocks hold much less water.
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