Residents of some towns in northern Italy face fines for wasting water as mayors ration supplies amid a severe drought.
Italy experienced one of its driest winters in 65 years, with rainfall 80% below the seasonal average. The situation was more serious in the northern regions, where some areas were deprived of significant rainfall for three months or more. The Po, the country’s longest river, is at its lowest recorded level in winter since 1972.
City mayors in regions such as Piedmont, Liguria, Lombardy and Trentino have introduced water rationing measures, ranging from stopping fountains and nightly restrictions on tap water to ban on using water for gardens and gardens, for washing cars and filling swimming pools.
Fines of up to €500 are in place for those found to be wasting the supplies.
“I never remember a situation like this in winter. We haven’t had rain since December 8,” said Francesco Pietrasanta, the mayor of Quarona, a town in Piedmont. “There are problems with the water wells, some areas have had to be supplied by water tanks. The rule is to use water only when really needed, for example for health reasons. hygiene or diet.
In Bajardo, a village in Liguria, the water supply to the taps was cut off between 8 p.m. and 8 a.m. Its mayor, Francesco Laura, said he had no choice. “The sources have dried up,” he told La Stampa. “The water from the mountains no longer arrives, and in the village the little that comes from the taps is used for cooking and washing.” Laura said there has been little to no rain in the village since October 2020.
The winter drought followed an intense and prolonged heat wave across Italy last summer. In August, Syracuse in Sicily reportedly broke Europe’s record for the highest temperature when it recorded a figure of 48.8C. Snowfall has also been below average this winter.
Scientists have long predicted that the climate crisis and global warming will lead to more frequent extreme weather events.
“It hasn’t snowed and it hasn’t rained for six months,” Massimo Niero, the mayor of Cisano sul Neva, Liguria, told local newspaper Il Vostro Giornale. “There will be problems this summer.”
Rains are expected in the north and the rest of Italy from Wednesday, although Pietrasanta said they should be heavy to solve the water shortage.
“We may get some rain on Friday, but I’m not sure it will be enough,” he said. “This situation should make us think about changing policy to manage water differently, especially with climate change.”