‘The water wasn’t there’: Lake Garda tourists shocked by hotspot reduction
Tourists flocking to Italy’s largest lake ahead of the country’s summer long weekend have discovered a very different landscape than in previous years.
Lake Garda in the north Italy has shrunk to near its lowest level on record, revealing swaths of underwater rock and warming the water to temperatures seen in the Caribbean.
“We came last year, loved it, and came back this year,” said sightseeing Beatrice Masi, sitting on the sun-bleached rock, which now stretched far beyond the normal shore.
“We found that the landscape had changed a lot,” she continued. “We were a bit shocked when we arrived because we had our usual walk and there was no water.”
Northern Italy is currently experiencing a historic period Drought related to climate changewith a virtual absence of precipitation and snowmelt, in addition to soaring temperatures.
Vital rivers like the Pothat run through Italy’s agricultural and industrial heartland have all but dried up under extreme conditions, drastically reducing food production.
Italy is not alone in Europe, which experts say is suffering worst drought in 500 years.
Many European countries, including SpainGermany, PortugalFrance, the Netherlands and the UKendure unprecedented droughts this summer, hurting farmers and prompting authorities to adopt emergency measures measures.
Drought is expected to worsen in Europe, potentially reaching 47% of the continent.
The drought conditions of the Po, Italy’s longest river, have already caused billions of euros in losses to Farmers in the region, which produces 40% of Italian food.
The authorities tried to compensate for the lack of rain by allowing more water from Lake Garda flow into local rivers. However, last month they reduced the amount to protect the lake and the financially important tourism associated with it.
With 45 cubic meters of water per second diverted to riversthe lake was 32 centimeters above the water table on Friday, near the record lows of 2003 and 2007.
Garda Mayor Davide Bedinelli said he had to protect both farmers and the tourist industry, insisting the summer tourist season was going better than expected.
Tourists, especially those from Germany, canceled trips to Italy in late July, during the latest Heat wave.
“Drought is something we have to face this year, but the tourist season is not in danger,” Bendinelli wrote in a July 20 Facebook post.
The Lake was losing two centimeters of water a day, he confirmed.
Temperatures in Lake Garda are above average for August, according to seatemperature.org.
On Friday, the waters of the lake were at nearly 26°C around the same temperature as the Caribbean Sea average of 27°C.
That’s several degrees above average.
For Mario Treccani, who rents deckchairs and umbrellas by the lake, historically low water levels are hurting his business as fewer people need his chairs because there are now plenty of rocks to sunbathe on .
“The lake is usually a meter or more than a meter higher,” he said, pointing to a small wall that usually blocks water from the beach chairs
“It’s a bit sad,” he said. Before, we could hear the sound of crashing waves here. Now you can’t hear anything.