Water shortages as Sweden swelters

While many find it hard to complain about this summer’s heat and dryness with the knowledge of the long, dreary winter looming just a few months away, farmers around Sweden are feeling pressured, and people in south-western Sweden are having water use restricted.

Farmers in Östra Götaland, south of Stockholm, say that the drought means that grass is not growing as it usually does.

Bengt Johansson, a dairy farmer in Söderköping, told Swedish Radio that he is pulling out fodder reserved for the upcoming winter. The dry weather has stymied grass growth on his farm, lessening his chances of being able to profit from extra grass that is usually sold to other farms.

In southwestern Sweden, municipalities are imposing watering restrictions on residents. This year’s harvest of grasses and grains are at risk of being 10 percent to 25 percent lower than normal.

The Swedish Geological Survey (SGS) says that ground water levels are lower than usual in many parts of Sweden. The organization said that across almost the whole country ground water levels have fallen by between 10 and 50 centimtres, more than usual for the time of year.

People in many parts of rural Sweden get water from wells and springs. The SGS says that people who have previously had problems with wells or springs drying up should use water with caution. It also warned that dry spells can lead to more water use than normal, causing water availability to deteriorate further.

To make it through this summer’s drought, some are watering illegally.

“We have seen several watering structures that we will end up reporting to the prosecutors,” said Elisabeth Hellmo, who works for the country administration in Kristianstad, to news agency TT, adding that it would be up to the person prosecuted to prove the unlawful use of water has not damaged the environment.

The water situation in the area is being compared with the drought of 1992, and locals are saying the situation is getting worse with each sunny day.