The Sicilian capital of Palermo is used to water crises but the latest has left residents irate.
Hundreds of homes in the port city were left without drinking water due to emergency maintenance work, and – more upsettingly for local residents – because water in two residential areas was diverted to meet the needs of tourist cruise ships transiting in the port.
“Citizens of Palermo are informed that that the water disruptions that have occurred these days are due to the drawing of water by cruise ships in transit through Palermo,” AMAP, the provider, said in a written apology on its website on August 23rd.
The neighbourhoods of Zisa, Borgo Vecchio and via Notarbartolo were affected by the shortages, according to a report
in Repubblica. Temperatures reached highs of 31 degrees Celsius (87.8 Fahrenheit) on August 23rd and 24th.
174,000 tonnes of water were loaded onto cruise ships on Monday and Tuesday this week, claims another report
in Italian daily Repubblica. On Tuesday, one ship alone, the Costa Fascinosa, took 452 tonnes of water onboard.
Palermo is the last city in Italy that allows cruise ships to make stops to restock water for passengers: all other Italian ports have banned such refuel pit-stops because of water shortages.
In Palermo, as water began to flow again in affected areas, a further issue served to aggravate the city's drought.
“Due to urgent and unexpected maintenance of the network, AMAP was forced to interrupt the water supply in the areas of Partanna Mondello; Mondello Paese; Valdaura; Addaura; Vergine Maria and Arenella,” AMAP communicated today on its website.
A total of nearly two million passengers used Palermo-Termini Imerese port in 2016, according to data
from Italian port authorities. More than 160,000 cruise ship passengers transited
in Palermo between January and June this year.
It is not the first time giant cruise ships have caused controversy in Italy. Venice has attempted to pass legislation to move all cruise ships over 40,000 tonnes to the nearby port of Marghera in order to reduce pollution.
followed a 400 per cent increase in cruise ship traffic to Venice in five years, culminating in the birth of a anti-cruise ship protest movement that has attracted thousands of Venetians.