Rome faces water rationing as drought ravages Italy

Some 1.5 million Rome residents are bracing themselves for water rationing as Italy grapples with a severe drought.

Rome faces water rationing as drought ravages Italy
Photo: tataks/Depositphotos

Water supplies could be suspended for up to eight hours a day in alternating neighbourhoods from July 28th. The move comes after authorities in the Lazio region ordered that no more water be drawn from the depleting Lake Bracciano, which lies about 40km away from the capital and provides some of its water. More than half of the city’s population is expected to be affected by the rationing.

Rome’s fountains also risk being switched off, while some of the city’s public drinking fountains, a source of refreshment for thousands of locals and tourists, were already turned off in late June.

A report by environmental organization Legambiente in June warned that almost half of the water pumped into the city's fountains is wasted due to problems with the pipes which has turned the system into a “sieve”.

Almost all of Italy has experienced significantly less rainfall than usual this year, with northern regions Emilia Romagna and Tuscany declaring a regional state of emergency because of the water shortage.

The island of Sardinia has also been hit hard and is seeking natural disaster status.

Coldiretti, the farmers’ association, estimates €2 billion worth of damage to agricultural land, while dairy farmers have reported drops in milk production. Wildfires have also raged across the country over the past month.

After the second hottest spring in 60 years, and the driest in that same period, Italy has missed out on about a month's worth of rainfall, leaving lakes and reservoirs severely depleted.

Rome had 26 days of rain during the first six months of this year, compared to 88 in the same period of 2016.


Body of missing American tourist found in Rome’s River Tiber

The body of a missing 21-year-old tourist was found in the River Tiber on Thursday morning, according to media reports.

Body of missing American tourist found in Rome's River Tiber

Elijah Oliphant, from Dallas, Texas, was on holiday with his family in Rome when he went missing several days ago.

Oliphant’s parents reported his disappearance after he left his hotel room shortly after midnight on May 24th and did not return.

Hotel security footage showed him leaving the premises wearing a white undershirt and pyjama bottoms, which he was wearing when he was found.

Oliphant’s corpse was reportedly spotted by passersby near the Ponte Sisto bridge in Rome’s Trastevere district around 10am on Thursday morning. His body was positively identified by his parents.

Members of the fire brigade and river police who recovered the body say there were no obvious signs of violence, but an autopsy will be conducted to determine the cause of death. Trastevere police are reportedly investigating the matter.

The Oliphant family had arrived in Rome for a holiday on May 23rd. When Elijah went missing the following day, his parents launched an urgent appeal to help find their son.

His disappearance was featured on the missing persons television show, Chi l’ha visto (‘Who’s seen them?’) on May 25th.

Several foreigners have been found drowned in the Tiber in recent years, though there are no indication that any of the incidents are linked.

In 2016, the body of 19-year-old American student Beau Solomon was recovered from the river.

Rough sleeper Massimo Galioto was charged involuntary manslaughter in the case, but was ultimately acquitted in 2020.

Prosecutors said that Galioto pushed Solomon in the course of a violent argument. Galioto’s defense team acknowledged that the two had argued but said the student had accidentally slipped.

In May 2019, 37-year-old Imen Chatbouri, a former athletics champion from Tunisia, was found dead in the Tiber after a night out. CCTV footage later showed she had been pushed from the Ponte Sisto bridge.

A then-26-year-old man whose advances she had rejected earlier that evening was convicted of her murder in November 2021.