Italy’s Lake Garda shrinks to historic lows amid drought


Sirmione Italy (AP) — Italy’s worst drought in decades has reduced the country’s largest lake, Lake Garda, to near the lowest recorded levels, exposing bands of previously submerged rocks and causing water temperatures to rise. has risen to temperatures approaching the Caribbean average.

On Friday, tourists flocking to popular northern lakes for the start of Italy’s main summer long weekend spotted a vastly different landscape than in years past. Wide expanses of bleached rock surround the southern Sirmione peninsula, with green hues in the water and yellow halos among the coastal trees.

“We came last year and liked it, so we came again this year,” said tourist Beatrice Masi, sitting on a rock. “I could see that the landscape had changed a lot,” she said.

Northern Italy has experienced dry months, with snowfall falling by 70% this year, drying up important rivers such as the Po, which runs through Italy’s agricultural and industrial heartland. Many European countries, including Spain, Germany, Portugal, France, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom, We are enduring a drought this summer It has harmed farmers and shippers and encouraged authorities to limit water use.

of Italy’s longest Po river dryhas already cost billions of euros to farmers who normally rely on irrigating their fields and rice paddies.

To compensate for this, authorities have allowed more water to flow from Lake Garda into local rivers. This is 70 cubic meters (2,472 cubic feet) of water per second. However, in late July they reduced the amount to protect the lake and its associated economically important tourism.

Forty-five cubic meters (1,589 cubic feet) of water per second were pumped into the river, and on Friday the lake was 32 centimeters (12.6 inches) above the water table, near the record lows of 2003 and 2007.

Garda Mayor Davide Bedinelli said both farmers and the tourism industry must be protected. He argued that the summer tourist season is going better than expected, despite cancellations, mostly by German tourists, during Italy’s latest heatwave in late July.

In a Facebook post on July 20, Bendinelli said: “Drought is a fact that will have to be dealt with this year, but the tourist season is not in jeopardy.

He found that the lake is losing 2 centimeters (0.78 inches) of water a day.

Meanwhile, according to seatemperature.org, lake temperatures are above average for August. On Friday, the water in Garda was about 26 degrees Celsius (78 degrees Fahrenheit), a few degrees warmer than the August average temperature of 22 degrees Celsius (71.6 degrees Fahrenheit), and the average Caribbean temperature of about 27 degrees Celsius (80 degrees Fahrenheit). approached.

For Mario Treccani, who owns a lakeside kiosk of beach chairs and umbrellas, the lake’s extended shoreline means fewer people rent his chairs, as there are plenty of rocks for sunbathing. To do.

“Lakes are usually a meter or more high,” he said from the rock.

Pointing to the small wall that usually blocks the water from the beach chairs, he recalled that waves from the lake can sometimes bounce off tourists on windy days.

not anymore.

“It’s a little disappointing. Before, you could hear the crashing waves here. Now you can’t hear anything,” he said.

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Nicole Winfield contributed from Rome.

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