(Bloomberg) -- Romania is urging people to cut back on water use as a severe drought strains supplies that are needed for electricity generation and agriculture in one of the European Union’s largest grain producers.
Drinking water should be conserved, and watering gardens and filling up of pools need to be limited with the drought affecting about 75% of the nation, Environment Minister Barna Tanczos told reporters in Bucharest Wednesday. The eastern part of the country has experienced extreme dryness this year, compromising the grain harvest in the region.
After a record crop last year, Romania expects a 15% drop in 2022. The country’s wheat is being harvested, while corn is in the middle of a vital part of its growing season. A weather-related hit risks exacerbating the global grain shortfall sparked by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
“We’ve made repeated calls for a rational consumption of drinking water, which entails huge investments and especially when we’re going through a drought,” Tanczos said. “We simply can’t consume five to 10 times more water than in normal times to water our gardens.”
Romania is the latest European country to reel from the drought conditions wreaking havoc in the continent. The weather is worsening the situation for the region where inflation is rising sharply and economic growth remains meager. Italy this week declared a state of emergency in five northern and central regions devastated by heat.
Romania’s 40 water reservoirs that serve a large part of the population and industry are forecast to shrink to 68% by the end of the month from the current 82%, according to a statement from the country’s water management agency. Towns, including some near the capital Bucharest, have been forced to ration water for a few hours a day until reserves build up. Large-scale nationwide irrigation remains unaffected, Tanczos said.
The level of the Danube, a major waterway in Europe, is also at the lowest in 30 years as the river enters Romania, according to Tanczos. Hydroelectric power stations, which generate about a third of the country’s electricity, aren’t affected and there’s enough water needed for the sole nuclear power plant to operate safely, he said.
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