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Thirsty cows Swiss apologise for 'stealing' French water

No more French water for thirsty Swiss cows.

(Keystone)

The Swiss army apologised to French authorities after military helicopters lifted water from a lake in the French Jura Mountains to water cows in drought-affected areas.

The operation, which began last week and was prompted by the most severe heat wave since 2003, had helicopters air-lifting water to cows stranded on mountainous pastures. Fifty three cubic meters of water were lifted from across the border at the Lac des Rousses.

“The Swiss army apologises to local and regional authorities, as well as to the concerned population and tourists for inconveniences caused,” said a statement from the defence authorities released on Monday.

The French national authorities had confirmed the overflight request of the Swiss army, but that “the Swiss air force misinterpreted this notification as an authorisation to draw water from the Lac des Rousses”. In fact, water extraction would have required the authorisation of local French authorities.

A Swiss army spokesman, said lifting water from the French lake represented a savings of 15 minutes in flight time versus travel to other Swiss lakes in the region.

It is estimated that 20,000 cows were in need of hydration when the programme was launched. Approximately 2000 m3 of water was delivered last week to the bovines.

The military operation is expected to continue until August 4.

swissinfo.ch and agencies

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