Europe drought: A town calls water ‘blue gold’ in one of its worst recorded droughts

On this small farm in the upper reaches of Seillans, a commune in the Var region of southern France, the fields are bare but for the parched remnants of the last harvest. Normally, aubergines, tomatoes, peppers and melons thrive here. Now, the fields lie fallow.

Messelis’ reservoirs first ran empty after last winter was remarkably dry. She then had to rely on tap water to grow the organic fruit and vegetables that make up the baskets she sells to neighbors and at local markets.

Then in May, local authorities tightened the taps as well.

France is suffering what authorities say is likely its worst drought on record. It’s a similar picture across much of Europe — more than 60% of land in the European Union is under drought warnings or more severe alerts, according to the European Drought Observatory.
The rain has been so scant that major rivers are drying up in parts. The Loire and Rhone in France, the Po in Italy and the Rhine in Germany have all experienced particularly low water levels, some of them have even shrunk, impacting transport, agriculture and energy production.

Now downpours are hitting several parts of the country. In the Loire region of central France, they’ve triggered flooding. The soil is so parched, like a dry sponge, it simply can’t absorb that much rain. In Paris, floods that hit Tuesday evening forced 10 underground Metro stations to close. The stormy weather has brought relief from the heat, but little to break the drought. What’s needed is less…

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