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Italy drought: Vatican switches off fountains in show of solidarity

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Italy drought: Vatican switches off fountains in show of solidarity
Some 100 fountains within Vatican City have been switched off. Photo: Andreas Solaro/AFP
11:15 CEST+02:00
All fountains within Vatican City have been switched off in a show of solidarity with Italy as the country endures a prolonged drought.

Some 100 fountains, including two Baroque masterpieces in St Peter's Square and those located in the Vatican gardens, are affected by the move, which comes as half of Rome's population of three million braces itself for potential water rationing.

Officials from the water utility Acea, the Lazio region and the environment ministry will meet this week to consider the possibility of rationing supplies for up to eight hours a day after Lazio governor, Nicola Zingaretti, said last week that a ban on drawing water from drought-hit Lake Bracciano, which lies about 40km from the capital, would be enforced on July 28th.

A decision is expected to be made on Wednesday or Thursday. Rome Mayor Virginia Raggi said in an interview with Il Messaggero on Monday that she would intervene to stop the rationing.

“It is unacceptable that over one and a half million Romans should be without water,” she told the daily newspaper. 

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. Some of the city's public drinking fountains were switched off in late June.

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

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