In Britain, although only two water companies have imposed a ban on outdoor hoses, others are already warning that restrictions could be brought in if the dry weather persists. The ban currently affects millions of people in southern England, barring them from cleaning cars, watering gardens or filling pools. Rule-breakers in some areas could be hit with a 1,000 pound fine, or about $1,200.
The drought has been particularly devastating for European agriculture, which was already suffering from an abnormally dry spring season, parching crops, making it harder to feed livestock and raising concerns about reduced harvests.
This week, the European Union’s executive arm urged the bloc’s member states to reuse treated urban wastewater for farm irrigation.
“Freshwater resources are scarce and increasing under pressure,” Virginijus Sinkevicius, a union environment commissioner, said in a statement, adding that “in times of unprecedented temperature peaks, we need to stop wasting water and use this resource more efficiently.”
In Italy, Coldiretti, a confederation of national agricultural producers, said last week that 250,000 farms were struggling because of the drought and soaring energy costs. One farmer out of 10 might never recover, the association said in a statement. On Thursday, the outgoing Italian government allocated some 200 million euros, or $204 million, to assist farmers.
But the drought has struck in other ways as well.
In the Italian town of Borgoforte, a few miles south of Mantua, an unexploded World War II-era bomb emerged from the Po riverbed as waters declined, forcing the evacuation this weekend of 3,000 residents, local news media reported.