13 Mar 2023, 13:44
Julian Wettengel

Govt strategy aims to adapt water supply to changing climate

Clean Energy Wire / dpa, Die Zeit / Table.Media

The German government’s upcoming ‘Water Strategy’ aims to improve the resilience of the country’s water supply, as the climate crisis poses serious risks to water security in the region. “The droughts of previous years had a marked impact on our forests, lakes and rivers, and on agriculture,” environment minister Steffi Lemke told news agency dpa in article carried by Die Zeit. The "comprehensive" strategy is intended to build sustainable water management practices in Germany by 2050 and focusses on ten overarching themes, including climate-adapted land-use and developing water infrastructure that is more resilient against extreme rainfall or drought, amongst others. On top of pressure resulting from pollution and changes in land use and water consumption, Germany’s water supply is increasingly at risk from climate change. Table.Media reported that provisions in the strategy’s final draft were weaker than earlier drafts, for example when it comes to the impact of livestock farming on the water supply. The government plans to adopt the strategy this week, the news service added.

Successive governments have worked on a water strategy for many years now, with an initial draft presented in June 2021, which forms part of a larger effort towards climate adaptation. Like many other countries in Europe, Germany experienced two consecutive years of extreme drought and heat in 2018 and 2019 which, among other things, saw significant losses to crop yields, a reduction in the number of hours power plants could properly function, huge swathes of forest dying away, and water levels in major rivers plunging below those needed to allow inland navigation. On average, Germany’s water supply is not in a critical state, but there are stark regional differences, for example in average rainfall, says the country’s environment agency (UBA). Eastern states, such as Brandenburg or Saxony-Anhalt, are particularly low in precipitation, while other regions, for example in southern Germany in the foothills of the Alps, see a lot of rain.

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