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Old 09.05.2011, 10:58
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Low water levels - should we be worried?

Yesterday, I was out with the family on a bit of a "jolly", and drove past Lake Gruyère - what a shock!

The first sight was at the head of the lake, nearest the dam, where the water level could be seen to be quite low, by the "tide marks" along the bank.

But the biggest shock, was further down the lake, towards the village of La Gruyère, where it was just mud flats with a few pools and just a channel of water running down the middle (probably the old river course before the it was dammed and "flooded") - much resembling low lying areas of coastal Britain at low tide.

As the lake is predominantly used for the generation of electricity (H.E.P.), requiring a continual outflow - there is obviously more water leaving the lake, than entering.

The same can be seen, to a lesser degree, on the downstream side of Fribourg, on the same river, at Schiffenensee - also dammed for the production of H.E.P.

I've never heard of problems in the production of electricity due to low rainfall and low water levels, but .........
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Old 09.05.2011, 11:08
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Re: Should we be worried?

I was reading in 20 minutes that they think there's going to be a drought, not enough snow last season, and so not enough meltwater now, combined with little rain.

Last edited by cyrus; 09.05.2011 at 11:24.
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Old 09.05.2011, 11:11
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Re: Should we be worried?

There's already a hose-pipe ban in some cantons.

I'm hoping for one in ZH canton. Our neighbour waters his garden with a hose-pipe for hours every night and then complains that his garden is waterlogged so there must be a drainage problem.

I wouldn't mind but we're on a shared water meter.
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Old 09.05.2011, 11:12
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Re: Should we be worried?

http://www.terradaily.com/reports/Sw...ecord_999.html

Article from April... I don't think things have improved since...

From 2006:

Hydropower plants contributed 52.4% to Switzerland's overall electricity production, followed by nuclear power plants (42.2%) and conventional thermal and other power plants (5.4%)

http://www.bfe.admin.ch/energie/0058...n&msg-id=12057

Answer: concerned yes, worried probably not yet... The flip side is that if there is massive rainfall (i.e. inconsistent weather patterns), then Switzerland has the empty reservoirs to fill up, so hopefully any flooding would be limited, unlike e.g. the flooding that occurred in past years in Germany/Poland.
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Old 09.05.2011, 11:19
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Re: Should we be worried?

the last time we had a drought like that was in 1956.

And it seems it's not going to end soon....


So yes, we should be worried.



and it's not only about Energy, it's all about nature.
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Old 09.05.2011, 11:24
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Re: Should we be worried?

A lot of damned lakes are drained during the day creating electricity during peak hours of consumption and then pumped back up to the reservoir lake during the night when power costs less. Seems daft, but powers of the market determine commodity pricing.
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Old 09.05.2011, 11:31
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Re: Should we be worried?

The Neuchatel free paper was also warning of water shortages. The level of Lake Neuchatel is already below the lowest recorded level apparently.
They are asking people not to use hosepipes unnecessarily and only light barbecues in their own gardens with a water source nearby (to limit the risk of fires I guess)
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Old 09.05.2011, 11:47
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Re: Should we be worried?

Conditions are dire up here in the Jura for farmers as their wells are dry - having to purchase 1m3 per beast at 4.70 each is a huge drain (!) for them. In nearby Franche-Comté is is forbidden to fill private swimming pools. The Lac de Gruyère was already shockingly low when we traveled past it in Feb.
Never has the old English proverb been so clear
'ash before oak, going to be a soak
oak before ash, going to be a splash.

Oaks have been out in leaf weeks ago, and ash are just beginning to show.

Of course the whole of Europe is struggling with water at the moment, not just us. But when the Jura runs dry, you know something is wrong!
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Old 09.05.2011, 12:01
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Re: Should we be worried?

Since January we've had something like 30% of normal rainfall with April being particularly dry (Metroschweiz). The west of Switzerland is particularly badly affected. However even here in the "wet" east I've noticed a lot of streams and springs have dried up.

Typically these dry and warm springs in Western/Central Europe are followed by wet summers (due to the temperature difference between land and sea). We'll see.....
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Old 09.05.2011, 12:05
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Re: Low water levels - should we be worried?

The lack of water has also intensified pollution problems in some rivers, especially the Doubs, where 1000s of fish have died.
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Old 09.05.2011, 20:26
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Re: Low water levels - should we be worried?

What about pollen levels? Aren't these very high due to lack of rain?
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Old 09.05.2011, 20:36
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Re: Should we be worried?

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the last time we had a drought like that was in 1956.

And it seems it's not going to end soon....


So yes, we should be worried.



and it's not only about Energy, it's all about nature.
2003 was pretty bad..this year will be a repeat of that I think.
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Old 09.05.2011, 20:51
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Re: Low water levels - should we be worried?

I was out running the other evening and saw three young badgers foraging along the edge of the track. The were a reasonable size, maybe last years cubs, and feisty with it.
However they were out very early, maybe 7pm, and I suspect it was because of the lack of rain.
No rain = no worms = hungry badgers.

That said, I could be totally wrong, but for sure a drought will be bad news for the wildlife.
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Old 09.05.2011, 21:02
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Re: Low water levels - should we be worried?

Badgers out in daytime = stress and lack of food, you are absolutely correct. Do you live nearby? In which case you could take them a tin of dog food and leave in a hedge nearby.
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Old 09.05.2011, 22:07
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Re: Low water levels - should we be worried?

its quit low every year here and you see the mud flats. but this year it was the lowest in 35 years. It has filled up quit a bit now compared to a few weeks ago.

Im not worried at all. they are giving rain again tomorrow and most of the week....
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Old 10.05.2011, 18:35
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Re: Low water levels - should we be worried?

At last, a downpour - hope it keeps raining overnight. (Neuchatel Jura at 950m)
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Old 10.05.2011, 21:16
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Re: Low water levels - should we be worried?

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At last, a downpour - hope it keeps raining overnight. (Neuchatel Jura at 950m)
Jealous! I just mowed the lawn, which hasn't been growing well because of the lack of water (I refuse to water established plants, and I include the lawn in this). We need some serious rain.
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Old 10.05.2011, 21:26
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Re: Low water levels - should we be worried?

I cycle by the stretch of Rhône before Lac Leman quite often. I have never seen it so low. In places you can see the river bed.
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Old 10.05.2011, 21:47
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Re: Should we be worried?

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I was reading in 20 minutes that they think there's going to be a drought, not enough snow last season, and so not enough meltwater now, combined with little rain.
Drought in 20 minutes? Will take longer than that surely?
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Old 10.05.2011, 23:29
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Re: Low water levels - should we be worried?

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Yesterday, I was out with the family on a bit of a "jolly", and drove past Lake Gruyère - what a shock!

The first sight was at the head of the lake, nearest the dam, where the water level could be seen to be quite low, by the "tide marks" along the bank.

But the biggest shock, was further down the lake, towards the village of La Gruyère, where it was just mud flats with a few pools and just a channel of water running down the middle (probably the old river course before the it was dammed and "flooded") - much resembling low lying areas of coastal Britain at low tide.

As the lake is predominantly used for the generation of electricity (H.E.P.), requiring a continual outflow - there is obviously more water leaving the lake, than entering.

The same can be seen, to a lesser degree, on the downstream side of Fribourg, on the same river, at Schiffenensee - also dammed for the production of H.E.P.

I've never heard of problems in the production of electricity due to low rainfall and low water levels, but .........
The farmers heavily complain, but complain is what they are masters at. If it is dry they say it is too dry, if it is rainy, then there is not enough sunshine.

Electricity ? Yes, if it is dry, Switzerland IMports electricity from France.

But back to the farmers. There is that nice joke about an unknown Mr Höhn (sorry, in German only) : "Da gab es den Herrn Höhn, der litt sehr unter dem Föhn, aber auch bei Westwind, Ostwind und bei Bise, war's ihm gleichermassen miese"
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