Switzerland Apologises to France After Taking Water For Thirsty Cows

Swiss government officials have apologised to their French counterparts after Swiss army helicopters allegedly stole water from a French lake to quench the thirst of dehydrated Alpine cows.

France 24 reported that officials in the Vaud region, which lies on the border with France in western Switzerland, sent a letter of apology and offered reimbursement to the government in Les Rousses, a French commune in the Jura Mountains, in the region of Franche-Comté.

The scoop took place last Thursday, when French fishermen and tourists swimming in Lac des Rousses were surprised when Swiss helicopters descended and began filling water tanks from the lake. The water was then delivered to thirsty cattle in the Swiss Alps. According to the Telegraph, the helicopters made as many as 15 landings over a period of several hours to collect the water.

Temperatures in Switzerland have regularly exceeded 30C in the past few weeks, with a variety of consequences including an increased risk of forest fires and nuclear power stations having to reduce their power output to avoid overheating.

However, the heatwave has also taken its toll on Switzerland's Alpine cows, with the Telegraph reporting that some 20,000 are believed to be dehydrated in the strongest heatwave since 2003. The Swiss army has been using funds earmarked for disaster relief to pump water to the livestock from the Neuchatel and Joux lakes in Switzerland since last week, a Swiss Department of Defence statement said.

Bernard Mamet, the mayor of Les Rousses, told Swiss newspaper 20 Minutes: "It all happened without our knowledge, even though the commune [of Les Rousses] owns the lake. That's not normal." Renaud Nury, the secretary general of the Jura administration, told French radio station France Info that the act could be considered "illegal," but added that the Vaud authorities had suspended the operation immediately after being approached by Jura officials.

Swiss authorities have since apologised and explained that the incident was simply a misunderstanding. Daniel Reist, a spokesman for the Swiss Army, told 20 Minutes that the Geneva government had filed an official request with Paris to draw water from the French lake, which had been approved, but that this had not been communicated to local administrations. He added that the French lake was used as it was more efficient, saving the helicopters 15 minutes per flight.

The saga is set to continue, however, as the petulant cattle are temporarily refusing to drink their helicopter-delivered water, according to Swiss newspaper 24 Heures. The change in taste, smell and temperature of their water has put them off, though local farmers have said the cows are gradually coming round to their new supplies.

According to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, cows can drink up to 30 gallons of water per day in the hottest conditions, while lactating cows need almost twice as much to produce milk.

Switzerland Apologises to France After Taking Water For Thirsty Cows |