Severe drought hits Polish rivers amid calls for water usage to be regulated

The level of Polish rivers has dropped to an “alarming level” due to the country’s worst drought in seven years

editor: Grzegorz Adamczyk
author: Aleksandra Bełdowicz

Poland’s large rivers are currently being affected by a hydrological drought with low water levels being recorded in rivers throughout the country and soil moisture not exceeding 15 percent., Polish Meteorology and Water Management Institute (IMiGW-PIB) has announced.

In a statement on its social media channels, IMiGW-PIB revealed a recent examination of the condition of Poland’s rivers produced “the worst results since 2015.”

Currently, 298 municipalities have made appeals or imposed restrictions on water use other than for purposes of existence. On July 21, a flow lower than the average of the lowest annual flows was recorded in 214 out of 600 streamflow gauging stations, a situation IMiGW-PIB considered to be the worst in five years. As such, warnings of hydrological drought were issued for 49 water catchment areas.

Poland’s largest rivers have been affected by a hydrological drought (grey color). Source: IMGW-PIB

Drought has affected the largest Polish rivers, the San, Bug and Warta, and their water catchment areas for a long time. In the middle part of Oder and the catchment area of Warta, drought was present as early as May. More and more drought warnings have also been issued for the Vistula, Poland’s longest river.

IMiGW-PIB pointed out that due to uneven distribution of rainfall, the problem of drought will not disappear but will only be paused “temporarily and locally.”

A report of the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission, published in July, shows that severe drought endangers almost half of the EU. According to the report, 46 percent of the EU area is exposed to warning drought levels and 11 percent to a higher, alarming drought level.

“A staggering portion of Europe is currently exposed to warning and alert drought levels, associated with either soil moisture deficit or its combination with vegetation stress,” the report read.

Authors of the report warned that the serious drought situation in Europe continues to intensify, and severe conditions are linked to frequency of extreme heatwaves. The report added that Poland is among the countries that could face consequences, such as a smaller harvest.

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