VILLERS-LE - LAC — Francoise Droz-Bartholet's business has dwindled slightly, much like the stretch of the Doubs River that straddles the French-Swiss border, the way her cruise ships usually come and go.
Water levels in Western Europe's rivers, lakes and reservoirs are low or drying up in the worst drought in decades. , flows wildly through forested gorges, cascades past waterfalls, and empties into Lac Brenet, a tourist attraction in the Jura region of eastern France. After months of no meaningful rainfall, the river's water recedes up the gorge and slowly reaches the lake in narrow channels.
"I hope this drought will be an exception to the rule.
She currently departs her clients by bus along the canyon and into the river where there is enough water for a cruise boat to navigate.
When asked how the boat tour went, vacationer Alain Houbert simply replied, "It was much shorter than usual."
The situation is worsening across Europe as multiple heat waves hit the continent.
In Spain, a farmer in the south fears that a severe drought could reduce the production of olive oil, the world's largest producer, by nearly a third. In France, which, like Spain, has had to contend with recent wildfires, trucks are delivering water to dozens of waterless villages.
In Germany, cargo ships cannot sail full load along the Rhine, the main artery of cargo, and cannot sail along the Po, Italy's longest river. A large sandbar is baking in the sun as the water level recedes sharply. In July, Italy declared a state of emergency in the region around Po, which accounts for more than a third of the country's agricultural production.
As France hits its fourth heat wave this week, many scientists believe that this summer's ferocious temperatures so far have contributed to the increased frequency and intensity of extreme weather events in Europe. It is consistent with the
On Tuesday, the UK Met Office issued a yellow "extreme heat" warning for parts of England and Wales. There is no respite in sight from the hot, dry conditions that have sparked fires, broken temperature records and strained the nation's infrastructure.
On the Doubs River, less boat tourists mean less food for restaurateur his Christophe Vallier. It was a crushing blow for him, who had hoped to recover from the COVID-19 recession. And he sees little reason to be hopeful about the future.
"Every expert in Dubs says the river is getting drier," he lamented Vallier.
(reported by Denis Balibouse, written by Richard Lough, edited by Susan Fenton)