Welcome rains in southern Norway over the past few days have reduced the risk of forest fires, but water shortages are imminent, especially in Oslo. Not only was last month the driest April of 122 years, but a combination of other factors left the Norwegian capital vulnerable to the water crisis this summer.

Rehabilitation of the dam here on Lake Gerdingen in Nordmarka has been added to the water shortage of the major lakes that supply Oslo’s drinking water. Photo: NewsInEnglish.no/MortenMøst

Residents of Oslo received yet another warning on their mobile phones earlier this month, urging them to shorten their showers again, brush their teeth, stop the water, and not water the lawn. Read the text message “Do it for Oslo”, “May we still have water for the most important thing in our lives.”

In the Oslo region, there was not much snow this winter and little rain this spring. A combination of snowmelt and a shower in April can usually result in flood warnings. This year, the water levels of lakes and rivers are so low that there is a great danger to the supply of drinking water.

The low water levels of dams in the mountains have already led to the highest electricity prices ever in Norway. The once abundant, clean and cold water that produced hydropower and some of the best drinking water in the world suddenly became valuable commodities. A warning about the danger of forest fires was issued for seven weeks, and the water level was very low even in Mjosa, the largest lake in the country, and it was a famous old paddle steamer. Skibra donor I couldn’t sail. Local marina, where many tour boats are usually moored, is expensive and dry.

When it finally rained, the farmers were delighted Late last week, it was enough to prevent a new drought. “It was enough to get things wet properly,” state meteorologist Rafael Escobar Løvdal told the newspaper. Aftenposten“And everything becomes more environmentally friendly, but the actual amount (of precipitation) was not very high.”

It also needs to rain “more and longer” to replenish the reservoirs in Oslo. Water scarcity in the capital is exacerbated by other factors that make the situation particularly serious. Almost all drinking water in the city MarcaThe hills and forests that surround the city, and most of them flow into MaridalsvannetA large lake on the north side of Oslo.

Dam construction here at Gjerdingen disrupted water supply and blocked access to the popular lake that had to be drained. Photo: NewsInEnglish.no/MortenMøst

One of the dams that send water MaridalsvannetHowever, the restoration work that started last summer was necessary.In other words, the big lake behind it Gerdingen Located about 30km north of the city, it actually had to be emptied last year to reinforce the 109-year-old dam.

This can look like a very bad timing. Jerdingen’s Water supplies about 15 percent of that Maridalsvannet..The dam restoration work, which raises modern standards, is currently underway, but the newspaper Aftenposten It reports that when precipitation is not normal at all, it will take about 18 months of “normal” precipitation to fill it again.

Most of the other 28 small and medium-sized lakes and waterways on the hills above Oslo Maridalsvannet Also very low, Maridalsvannet As of late April, it is only 66% of capacity. In the “normal” spring, it’s now 88%, so you’ll see all the warnings.

More water than Maridal needs
Meanwhile, Oslo is currently tackling a larger and fundamental challenge to Oslo’s drinking water. Maridalsvannet Even if there is a lot of rainfall, it will not be adequately supplied in the future. Oslo’s population has doubled early in the last 30 years and is expected to continue to grow. The city has finally launched a huge and expensive project to pipe water from the Horus fjord between Drammen and Bærum to Oslo. It will not be completed in the next few years.

Oslo is also directly affected not only by the dry spring, but also by the dry winters and autumns of last year. Previously there was a drought, but now it’s a serious outlook, and authorities are keenly aware of how important it is to not waste water. Current consumption is about 160 liters per person per day. Aftenposten According to reports, about 31% is used for personal hygiene, 23% for washing toilets, 19% for washing dishes, 6% for preparing meals, and 6% for drinking and other uses. It has been.

The water level is Maridalsvannet When submerged below 59%, the city stops watering lawns and flowers, washing streets, and running fountains. Many of the latter have not yet resumed after winter.

Then the city authorities will limit Car wash and watering of private lawns and gardens when the water level drops below 55%.If Maridalsvannet Continuing to decline, the city resumes use of water from other lakes Langria When Alnsjøen.. However, because water treatment facilities are not up to standard, Oslo residents need to boil water before drinking it.As a last resort, Oslo also uses water from the popular recreational lakes Nøklevann Located in the eastern forest of Østmarka, it also immediately stops all public use of the lake for swimming, fishing and even walking around it.

Oslo Water and Sewerage Bureau staff (Vannogavløpsetaten, VAV) I am disappointed that the first call for water conservation issued last winter did not lead to a significant reduction in water consumption. “We wanted them to work,” said Frode Hult, VAV’s department director. Aftenposten“But I understand that I could have been drowning in all the other news at the time because I sent my first message near the end of the pandemic and just before the war in Europe.”

The warning remains, he emphasized, saying that restrictions may not be necessary if the residents of Oslo cooperate well. However, in most cases it depends on the weather at this point. The situation becomes more serious when summers and autumns dry again in Oslo and other parts of southern Norway. Hult believes that if things don’t improve, we’ll need to impose limits at some point in the next two years.

newsinenglish.no/Nina Berglund

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