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The Danube’s water level has dropped dramatically

Staff writer |
The lack of precipitations in the past few weeks caused the Danube's water level to drop to near-record lows, with the river's discharge down to half its usual average at this time of the year.

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In Galati, in southeastern Romania, a group of sand islands has surfaced right in the middle of the river. In spite of these problems, the navigable channel has not been blocked on either sector of the river, the Romanian Naval Authority has announced.

Nevertheless, on certain sectors traffic unfolds with difficulty. In the southern areas of Zimnicea and Bechet tens of ships have been stationed and they are only allowed to pass one at a time.

The Danube's Giurgiu and Drobeta Turnu Severin areas, in the south-west, are also faced with similar problems. Authorities have warned navigators to be cautious and use water level radars and thus avoid getting stranded.

Farmers have also been affected by the lack of precipitations. The extreme temperatures and the severe drought have brought underground water down to a dramatically low level, which has in turn seriously damaged this year's crops.

The wheat, corn, rapeseed and sunflower yields will be much smaller than last year with the most difficult situation being reported in north-eastern Romania.

Farmers have called on the Agriculture Ministry for support, asking for a state aid scheme that would benefit farmland owners, lessors, lessees, associations and administrators with sharecrop farmers' associations, groups of producers and farmers' co-operatives.

The state aid must be made available immediately, farmers' representatives say, for farmers to be able to resume the production cycle as soon as possible.

In answer to the farmers' demands, the Agriculture Minister Daniel Constantin has explained that Romania needs the European Commission's approval to pay damages higher than 15,000 euros.

The EC must be also notified in the case of smaller amounts, of up to 15,000 euros, although they are granted from the state budget. Experts have criticized the low pace of these procedures, as Romania keeps losing a significant part of its cereal crops.

Things are not at all likely to improve in the coming period either, as meteorologists have announced that the heat wave, which has gripped Romania, is here to stay, with only several rain showers reported in isolated areas. Therefore, extreme heat and thermal discomfort is what Romania will be faced with in the upcoming period.

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