Rainfall in November and December has gone some way to alleviating the water shortage in the Saanenland, which was critical in late autumn. The new groundwater pumping station near Gstaad Airport has been provisionally connected to the public supply network in case the situation turns worse again.
According to Ruedi Kistler, water authority manager in Gsteig and Feutersoey, water levels have never been as low as last November since they have been recorded. In other years the water levels provided by the springs used to be twice as high.
According to Kistler, the situation was particularly precarious in Feutersoey: “Some private reservoirs completely dried up in November. Fortunately, the farmers all helped each other out. This meant that everyone had enough water for themselves and for their cattle.”
Same picture in Lauenen
There’s been some uncertainty about water in Lauenen too. As the person in charge, Walter Reichenbach said: “I’ve been managing the water here for twenty years now, but this autumn has seen our spring levels reach record lows!” Reichenbach knows that some Lauenen farmers who use private water supplies have seen their springs run dry during the drought. Those affected have helped each other, including running temporary water pipes. Some have also been looking for new water supplies.
New water supply ready in Saanen
Given the recent drought and the expected increase of the population over the winter season, the new groundwater pumping station at Gstaad Airport in Saanen has been provisionally connected. Thanks to the rainfall in December, water levels partially normalised and tapping the new pumping station has therefore not been necessary yet. Arno Romang of the Saanen water authority warns though, that the ground water is still significantly lower than in other years. A spell of cold water could be enough to cause another dive in water levels.
Snow cannons run off separate water supplies
It’s important to note that the water shortage has nothing to do with the snow cannons. Arno Romang confirmed: “Producing artificial snow doesn’t use drinking water supplies. Water used by the snow guns only comes from streams and the special reservoir for this purpose on the Hornberg.”
Justine Hewson / AvS