Italy's Lake Garda shrinks to near-historic low amid drought

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Italy's Lake Garda shrinks to near-historic low amid drought

  • Italy's worst drought in decades has reduced Lake Garda, the country's largest lake, to near its lowest level ever recorded, exposing swaths of previously underwater rocks and warming the water to temperatures that approach the average in the Caribbean Sea.

Key highlights

  • Lake was losing two centimetres (0.78 inches) of water a day.
  • Northern Italy hasn't seen significant rainfall for months, and snowfall this year was down 70%.
  • It dried important rivers like the Po, which flows across Italy's agricultural and industrial heartland.
  • The parched condition of the Po, Italy's longest river, has caused billions of euros in losses to farmers who normally rely on it to irrigate fields and rice paddies.
  • Many European countries, including Spain, Germany, Portugal, France, the Netherlands and Britain, are enduring droughts this summer that have hurt farmers and shippers and promoted authorities to restrict water use.
  • To compensate, authorities allowed more water from Lake Garda to flow out to local rivers — 70 cubic meters (2,472 cubic feet) of water per second.
  • But in late July, they reduced the amount to protect the lake and the financially important tourism tied to it.