With Europe facing longer periods of drought, the media attention for this topic is increasing. Over the past months, many media outlets have covered drought and how it may affect groundwater. IGRAC Director Elisabeth Lictevout was interviewed by newspapers, on TV and in a podcast, to shine her light on the current effects as well as potential future consequences. With water becoming a scarce commodity in some areas, transboundary waters are becoming a hot topic as well. Senior Groundwater Specialist Arnaud Sterckx touched upon the challenges in a radio interview.
Below, an overview of all IGRAC’s media engagements since March 2023.
The Atlantic (Newspaper) | 7 June 2023 | English
“French people are fighting over giant pools of water”
France has been faced with several years of drought already and 2023 stands to be worse still. In an attempt to tackle this issue, the French government has decided to construct mega-basins. In total, about 100 of these basins are being created across the country, particularly to provide the agricultural sector a lifeline during dry season. But what are their impacts on France’s groundwater reserves? That was exactly The Atlantic asked Elisabeth Lictevout in an interview. Because the mega-basins are groundwater fed.
Onda Cero (Podcast) | 29 May 2023 | Spanish
“The hidden guardians of the drought”
Onda Cero, one of the largest radio stations in Spain, hosts the podcast ‘La rosa de los vientos’. In this podcast, Bruno Cardeñosa and Silvia Casasola cover a wide range of topics and they often reserve time for science, environmental and societal issues.
In the episode that aired on 29 March, they interviewed Elisabeth Lictevout about the role of groundwater in periods of drought.
TRT World (TV) | 28 April 2023 | English
“Hottest temperatures on record for Spain in April”
The international channel of the Turkish television broadcaster TRT interviewed Elisabeth Lictevout. Spain had been struggling with the hottest temperatures on record in April and TRT wanted to know what the consequences would be for the groundwater resources. Lictevout states that droughts will impact crops and extreme weather has already had an impact on farmers this winter. Also, the drought will increase the risk of wildfires. She is also talking about the relationship between groundwater and drought and the role of groundwater in adaption to drought.
Radio Canada (Radio) | 26 March 2023 | French
“Shared waters, sources of conflict”
For its segment about transboundary waters, Radio Canada interviewed our Senior Groundwater Specialist Arnaud Sterckx. After explaining the challenges that arise when lakes are shared or when dams are built in upstream countries of a transboundary river, Sterckx was asked about what is currently hindering good transboundary aquifer management. He highlighted to lack of data as one of the main challenges. "One of the first difficulties when talking about cross-border aquifers is to identify and characterize them jointly, to recognize the pressures exerted on them and the specific cooperation needs. In fact, this first step already requires a certain degree of cooperation”, he says. However, in the absence of sustainable management, aquifers risk being overexploited and contaminated, a situation that could worsen over the years. “If states do not have data or do not share them, there may already be big problems, but we don't know.”
NRC (Newspaper) | 9 March 2023 | Dutch
“Winter droughts that currently hits many parts of Europe, will occur more frequently”
After several very dry summers, the southern part of Europe is now also facing a drier winter than usual. Elisabeth Lictevout was asked about the impact of these winter droughts on groundwater. In her interview with NRC, Lictevout distinguished between different types of aquifer, some responding quickly to a rainfall or the lack of it during the period of recharge (i.e. small aquifers with big cracks) and other respond very slowly, over many years and decades (i.e. big sedimentary aquifers like Paris basin). “In those areas, groundwater flows slower and, therefore, also respond slower to the lack of precipitation”, she says. This could indicate that the areas that are currently facing drought, in fact already face lack of precipitation for way longer.
Are you interested in the expert opinion of IGRAC staff on any of the following groundwater-related topics: drought, climate change, transboundary water, water for food, data and information? Contact our Senior Communications Officer Stefan Siepman (firstname.lastname@example.org)