Italians face fines for wasting water as supplies rationed amid drought
People living in some northern Italian towns face fines for wasting water as mayors ration supplies amid a severe drought.
Italy has had one of its driest winters in the last 65 years, with rainfall 80% lower than the seasonal average. The situation has been more acute in northern regions, where some areas have been deprived of significant rainfall for three months or more. The Po, the country’s longest river, is at its lowest level recorded in winter since 1972.
Mayors of towns in regions including Piedmont, Liguria, Lombardy and Trentino have introduced water-rationing measures, ranging from fountains being switched off and nightly restrictions on tap water to bans on using water for gardens and allotments, for washing cars and filling swimming pools.
Fines of up to ?500 are in place for those deemed to be squandering supplies.
"I don’t ever recall a situation of this kind in winter. We haven’t had any rain since 8 December,” said Francesco Pietrasanta, the mayor of Quarona, a town in Piedmont. “There are issues with water wells, some areas have had to be supplied by water tanks. The rule is to only use water for real necessity, such as for hygiene or food reasons.”
In Bajardo, a village in Liguria, the water supply to taps has been switched off between 8pm and 8am. Its mayor, Francesco Laura, said he had no choice. “The springs have dried up,” he told La Stampa. “The water from the mountains no longer comes, and in the village the little that comes from taps is used for cooking and washing.” Laura said there had been little or no rain in the village since October 2020.
The winter drought followed an intense, protracted heatwave across Italy last summer. In August, Siracusa in Sicily is believed to have broken the European 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 heating would lead to more frequent extreme weather.
"It hasn’t snowed and it hasn’t rained in six months,” Massimo Niero, the mayor of Cisano sul Neva, in Liguria, told the local newspaper, Il Vostro Giornale. “There will be problems in the summer.”
利古利亞區奇薩諾鎮鎮長馬西莫·涅羅告訴當地報紙《Il Vostro Giornale》說：“已經6個月不下雪也不下雨了。今年夏天肯定會出問題?！?/p>
Rain is forecast in the north and the rest of Italy from Wednesday, although Pietrasanta said it would need to be significant to resolve the water shortage.
"We might get some rain on Friday but I’m not sure it will be enough,” he said. “This situation ought to make us think about changing policy to manage water in a different way, especially with climate change.”