The Czech Republic Struggles with Water Shortage Despite Average Rainfall

The Czech Republic is experiencing a water shortage, despite receiving average rainfall in 2022. While the overall amount of precipitation has remained consistent with previous years, the frequency and intensity of rainfall have changed. This, coupled with rising temperatures due to climate change, has resulted in water disappearing from the landscape faster than desired.

According to the Index of Prosperity, a joint project by Czech bank Česká spořitelna, the data portal Europe in Data, and research agency IPSOS, the Czech Republic is the worst in the European Union at managing water. “While there is no single indicator that could measure and compare this, we can say that drought has persisted since 2015, especially in groundwater,” confirmed Jan Danhelka, director of hydrology at the Czech Hydrometeorological Institute.

Despite average rainfall of 634mm, which represents 93% of the long-term average, June and September had more rain than average, while March had just 35% of its normal rainfall. Nonetheless, the Czech Republic will continue to face drought this year.

The primary reason for the lack of water in the landscape is climate change, increasing the average annual air temperature. While the rise of a few tenths of a degree per year may not seem significant on a city terrace or in a suburban garden, it has important implications. “The amount of precipitation has remained more or less the same in long-term observations, but the temperature has demonstrably risen, which ultimately negatively affects water reserves because nature simply consumes more water at higher temperatures,” explained Professor Miroslav Trnka of Mendel University.

Statistics from the Czech Hydrometeorological Institute showed that 2022 was another year of above-average temperatures, ranking as the fifth warmest year since 1961. The average annual air temperature was 9.2°C, 0.9°C higher than the 1991-2020 normal. To combat the water shortage, the Czech government plans to introduce water-saving measures, such as increasing water prices and introducing regulations for industry and agriculture.