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Drought hits Germany’s Rhine River: ‘We have 30cm of water left’

drought-hits-germany’s-rhine-river:-‘we-have-30cm-of-water-left’

(BBC) As Europe lives through a long, hot summer, one of the continent’s major rivers is getting drier – posing major problems for the people and businesses that rely on it.

Captain Andre Kimpel casts an experienced, but worried, eye across the river Rhine, where water levels have dropped significantly in recent days.

Several ferry services in and around the town of Kaub have been forced to a standstill, but he’s still carrying people and their cars across the water to the opposite bank – for now.

“It’s no joke,” he says as he navigates the water which sparkles in the summer sunshine. “We have 1.5m [5ft] of water and our boat sits 1.20m deep. So we have 30 centimetres of water left beneath us.”

It’s not unusual for water levels to drop here but, Captain Kimpel says, it’s happening more frequently. “We used to have a lot of floods. Now we have a lot of low waters.”

On the riverbank nearby, there’s an old measuring station. Any skipper wanting to enter the Upper Rhine will refer to the official water level recorded here.

The current level hasn’t yet fallen below the lowest figure ever recorded here, in October of 2018. The measurement then was 25cm (the measurement is taken from the same reference point in the water, not the deepest point on the river bed).

It’s currently 42cm – but is forecast to fall further in the coming days.

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