In Britain, although only two water companies have banned outdoor pipes, others are already warning that restrictions could be imposed if the dry weather persists. The ban currently affects millions of people in the south of England, preventing them from cleaning cars, watering gardens or filling swimming pools. Violators in some areas could be hit with a fine of 1,000 pounds, or about $1,200.
The drought was particularly devastating for European agriculture, which was already suffering from an abnormally dry spring, drying out crops, making it harder to feed livestock and raising fears of reduced harvests.
This week, the executive arm of the European Union urged member states in the bloc to reuse treated urban wastewater for agricultural irrigation.
“Freshwater resources are scarce and increasingly under pressure,” Union Environment Commissioner Virginijus Sinkevicius said in a statement, adding that “in times of unprecedented temperature spikes, we must stop waste water and use this resource more efficiently”.
In Italy, the Coldiretti, a national confederation of agricultural producers, said last week that 250,000 farms were struggling due to drought and soaring energy costs. One in 10 farmers may never recover, the association said in a statement. On Thursday, the outgoing Italian government allocated some 200 million euros, or $204 million, to help farmers.
But the drought has also hit in other ways.
In the Italian town of Borgoforte, a few miles south of Mantua, an unexploded bomb dating from World War II emerged from the bed of the Po as waters receded, forcing the evacuation this weekend of 3,000 residents, local media reported.