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Source of Moselle dries up as heatwave batters Europe
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Source of Moselle dries up as heatwave batters Europe

by Yannick HANSEN 2 min. 04.08.2022
Europe is grappling with a heatwave that is causing rivers to drop dangerously low
The source of the river Moselle in Bussang in France
The source of the river Moselle in Bussang in France
Photo credit: LW archive

The source of the Moselle - Luxembourg's only navigable river - has dried up as an unrelenting heatwave is battering the continent, causing Europe's waterways to fall below the point where ships can sail through them.

Sitting 715 metres above sea level in the Commune Bussang in the French Vosges, the fountain officially considered to be the source stopped splashing out water on Wednesday, radio station France Bleu Sud Lorraine said.

Luxembourg called the current state of its river levels "worrying", saying on Thursday the summer could see historic lows. That puts a strain on both animals and the surrounding nature as low rivers heat up quicker, supplying less oxygen and a higher concentration of manure, the release said. 

"Given the situation almost everywhere, we are no longer surprised," Jean-Baptiste Mansuy, the deputy director of the tourism office of the Hautes Vosges told the radio station.

France, and the rest of Europe, is grappling with a heatwave that is causing river temperatures to spike and water levels to drop. 

On Tuesday, France's utility giant EDF announced it would have to continue running the country's fleet of nuclear power plants at reduced capacity as high river temperatures restrict its ability to cool plants.

In Germany, the Rhine is set to drop to a level at which large barges may no longer be able to pass it, which could halt the flow of everything from fuel to chemicals between Basel and the seaport of Rotterdam, as governments try to prevent the energy crisis from tipping the region into recession.

The Moselle is both the main source of cooling water for France's troublesome Cattenom nuclear plant and Luxembourg's only navigable river.

However, the river is unlikely to dry up as smaller rivers still feed the waterway, Mansuy said. The level of the Moselle has stayed largely stable at four measuring points in Luxembourg for the past five days, though below last year's levels, data from government website inondations.lu shows.

On Thursday, Luxembourg ended restrictions on water use, but the government is still calling on residents to limit their water consumption and avoid any waste. Local restrictions on water use are possible, the press release said.


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