The Czech Republic is experiencing a catastrophic drought, threatening their harvest and supply of water, Environment Minister Richard Brabec announced Wednesday, April 29, 2020. This has been the country's worst dry spell in 500 years.
A map presented by the minister showing that just 0.1 percent of the nation had a normal level of water in the soil in mid-April, while 75.4 percent is facing severe drought.
Rain and snowfall have been declining in the past decade while warming temperatures led to periods of dry spells in the land-locked country. This year, the combination of warm winter and lack of precipitation led to a "catastrophic" situation, said Brabec. Scientists also showed data that the country is in its worst drought in five centuries.
"We are facing an unprecedented drought period, both in its duration and its impact," he stated. "Smaller rivers will dry out, there may be tens, perhaps hundreds of communities supplied by cisterns, because their sources may dry out."
The situation is worsened as most rivers flow out of the country and by intensive farming. In its Communist era of forced collectivization, fields were joined into some of Europe's biggest single-crop units, while other dividers were pulled out. This has reduced the landscape's ability to retain water, leaving the country grappling to maintain sustainable water levels.
The dry spell and warmer temperatures also led to the bark beetle spread, which infested the nation in 2019, resulting in about 1.7 billion dollars worth of damage.
The Environment Ministry is appealing for financial assistance to fight the drought-- a move that could help harvests, such as grains and rapeseed.
Although the COVID-19 crisis is the country's most pressing issue currently, Brabec noted that climate change and drought will become the biggest problems in the following years.
"Unless there is a miracle that would bring a month-long continuous rain, we will see rivers and streams dry out and tens or hundreds of villages with no source of drinking water."
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