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WATER

Climate change threatens Swedish water cost hike

Sweden could see the costs of tap water rise in the future, said Rural Affairs Minister Eskil Erlandsson, as the government investigates how to secure a plentiful flow under the threat of climate change.

Climate change threatens Swedish water cost hike

“Water will become more expensive and Sweden needs to take action,” said Erlandsson to news agency TT and added that national infrastructure requires more investment and water pipes need improved maintenance.

“In comparison with the rest of Europe, we have cheap water in Sweden. We do see a threat, because of climate change, which means measures must be taken to ensure supply doesn’t dry up in the future.”

A government investigation is underway and is due to conclude findings on climate change impact on the quality and supply of drinking water by mid-2015.

By July next year, however, the report must also present partial proposals on the protection of water sources and how responsibilities should be divided.

Erlandsson admits there is a need to install new filters to prevent water contamination in the northern Swedish cities of Östersund and Skellefteå, and to protect these areas with reserve water supplies.

He also states that the relatively cheap cost of water in Sweden is also a source of the problem. “Yes, because we waste a lot of water,” adding that it leads to issues when dealing with an excess of used water.

The Swedish Water and Wastewater Association (SvensktVatten) states that the rate of investment in water infrastructure needs to grow from today’s five billion kronor per year to between 10-15 billion kronor annually in 20 year’s time.

Infrastructure installed between 1950-1970 must be replaced or renovated to meet today’s standards and Swedes will definitely see the price of water increase in the future.

“In real terms, we are talking about price increases of between 30 to 100 percent over the next 20-25 years,” said the trade organization’s president Lena Söderberg

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CLIMATE

‘Winter that never arrived’ nears end for Nordic countries

Northern European countries known for skiing and other snowy pursuits are poised to record one of the warmest winters ever after weeks of unseasonably high temperatures.

'Winter that never arrived' nears end for Nordic countries
Flooded fields in Himmerland, Denmark, on February 26th. Photo: Henning Bagger/Ritzau Scanpix

In Sweden's capital Stockholm, cherry trees bloomed in January as much of the country recorded temperatures six to seven degrees Celsius higher than normal since December.

“It is the warmest winter in recorded history in southern and central Sweden,” the Swedish Meteorological and Hydrological Institute (SMHI) said in a statement to AFP.

Sweden's neighbours Norway, Denmark and Finland have also seen high temperatures.

Some companies have practically given away ski suits, bonnets and other winter attire well before the season ends.

In Uppsala, about 70 kilometres north of Stockholm, this is the warmest winter since 1722, or nearly 300 years.

Across the border in Finland, more than half of the country recorded the mildest January ever. Temperatures were seven to eight degrees higher than average, the country's meteorological institute said.

Norway experienced its mildest winter since record keeping began in 1900. Temperatures exceeded the seasonal norm by 4.5 degrees.

The same goes for Denmark, the southernmost country in the region. Winter, which officially ended on the last day of February, saw temperatures that were five degrees above normal.

“If this winter remains etched in the collective memory, it will be as the winter which never arrived,” said Mikael Scharling, of the Danish Meteorological Institute.

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Unusual in places that are wild about winter sports, capitals like Oslo, Stockholm and Helsinki saw little to no snow in January.

“We have just experienced the first Jan-Feb period on record without any measurable snow in Helsinki,” said Mika Rantanen, of the Finnish Meteorological Institute.

“I think that is quite extraordinary,” Rantanen said.

A figurehead in the campaign against climate change, Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg has taken to Twitter to voice her concerns.

“Stockholm just experienced its warmest winter ever recorded (since measures began 1756),” Thunberg tweeted.

It has also been one of the wettest winters across northern Europe.

Seventy percent more precipitation than normal hit Norway, according to theNorwegian Meteorological Institute.

Sweden has also suffered.

“The worst flooding is in the southwest parts of Sweden, where a lot of farm land… is soaked in water,” said Ulf Wallin, spokesman for Sweden's agriculture federation LRF.

“For many farmers the autumn sowing of winter wheat has been destroyed,”Wallin said.

“The warm winter can leach the soil and we even have seen plants begin to bloom that we never seen so early before.”

If the situation improves, the LRF expects to see normal crop yields for 2020 but still lower than those in 2019.

In Denmark, floods today threaten nearly half a million buildings across the country and much farmland but exact figures have yet to be tallied.

 

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