Climate change is leading to water shortages in some Alps. Water supply projects worth millions are needed. Overall, summers in Switzerland have tended to become drier over the past thirty years as a result of climate change.
Very dry summers are becoming more frequent. This is shown by data from Meteo Switzerland. But not only that. Because there is less snow and the glaciers are melting, there is no water reservoir in spring and early summer. The sources dry up. This means that there is no drinking water for the cattle. A cow happily drinks 100 liters of water on a hot day. Not to mention the water that is used for milk processing and by the people themselves.
Due to dwindling water resources, water has had to be transported by helicopter to the particularly dry Alps several times in recent years. Only the Swiss Air Force flew over 4,300 tons of water to Alpine farms throughout Switzerland in over 700 flight hours in the last three hot summers. There are no figures from the private helicopter companies, which may have flown the much larger part.
Elaborate water supply projects are intended to ensure that dry alpine pastures can continue to be cultivated. The number of such projects is increasing throughout Switzerland. This is shown by figures calculated by the Federal Office for Agriculture for the Rundschau. Whereas ten years ago there were ten projects, last year 40 were approved. The costs, which are borne by the federal government, the cantons, other bodies and to a small extent also by the owners and operators of the alps, are constantly increasing. It was 22 million francs last year.
The problem of water shortages is not yet evident everywhere. But traditional alpine farming – part of the Swiss identity – is coming under pressure. And thus, a whole third of Swiss agricultural land.