In Italy, water has become a precious commodity. But not only rising temperatures and climate change are to blame for the drought in the country.
Rome – The sun is sizzling from a cloudless sky, the asphalt of the streets is glowing and sweat is pouring from every pore. There’s a small fountain for cooling off. Yes, only a few water pots trickle out of the fountain. This horror scenario of a hot summer day has already become a bitter reality in Milan in northern Italy, and other cities could follow. In Milan, only the fountains that are important for the survival of flora and fauna are still running, in Rome rotary taps are to be attached to the small drinking fountains so that the water doesn’t splash all the time. However, switching off the wells should not remain the only measure to save water: even hairdressers have to limit themselves.
Italy is currently having to endure an enormous heat wave, and quite early in the year. In addition, the country is stuck in a veritable water crisis. But why is it like that?
Italy: Dilapidated pipeline network worsens the situation
Drought, heat, fires and even a plague of locusts in Sardinia: the popular holiday destination is currently really plagued by all kinds of extreme weather. But the lack of rain and the increasingly extreme drought caused by climate change are not the only reasons for the country’s acute water crisis. Reasons for this can also be found elsewhere. As the Southgerman newspaper reported, the national pipeline network is very dilapidated and its management by individual communities is poorly organized. According to a study by the state statistics office Istat, a total of 42 percent of water is simply wasted every year on its way to households or the economy.
It’s bad enough that almost half of the water simply seeps away somewhere unused. At the same time, however, it is not possible to collect and store the amounts of rain from the winter in such a way that they can be used in the hot summer months. But, improvement is in sight: 900 million euros are earmarked for modernizing the network after the corona pandemic. 25,000 kilometers of new lines are to be laid.
Italy: Dispense water from Lake Garda, authorities oppose it
However, it will be a while before the “Oro blu”, the blue gold, flows through the new lines. Until then, dry fields, dry riverbeds and low water levels in the lakes will probably remain the usual sight. The Po in the upper part of the country carries less water than it has in seven decades. Given the weak flow, the salt water of the Adriatic Sea is increasingly displacing the fresh water of the Po. To counteract this, the administrative authority of the region around Lake Garda, the Comunità del Garda, should have allowed 20 to 30 cubic meters per second more lake water to flow into the dry river. But the Comunità del Garda refused: the Po apparently needs at least 500 cubic meters per second to recover. The required amount would therefore literally be just a drop in the ocean. What’s more, the release of water would endanger Lake Garda unnecessarily. The water situation in the popular holiday destination of Italy remains tense.