Italy issues fines for water wastage amid northern drought

After a dry winter, people in northern Italy are facing water shortages and fines for wastage amid a severe drought in the region.

Italy issues fines for water wastage amid northern drought
A tree trunk is pictured on the river bed of the river Po in Motteggiana, northern Italy, which has been affected by a significant lack of rain during the winter months. Photo by MIGUEL MEDINA / AFP

Mayors of towns across northern regions of Italy are turning to measures rationing drinkig water supplies and fining residents for wasting resources as water remains scarce.

Months of dry weather has led to a drought in northern Italy and the Po River basin in particular, with no relief in sight, according to a new weather study.

Italy overall has experienced one of its driest winters in 65 years with rainfall 80 percent lower than the seasonal average, according to data from the Regional Agency for Environmental Protection (Agenzia regionale per la protezione dell’Ambiente).

Italy’s longest river, the northern-located Po river, is now at its lowest level in winter since 1972.

As a result, municipalities across the northern region have been forced to cut off water supplies at certain times of the day and limit water to essential reasons.

The regions mainly affected are Piedmont, Liguria, Emilia Romagna, Lombardy and Alto-Adige, which have turned to rationing measures.

READ ALSO: From Venice to Mont Blanc, how is the climate crisis affecting Italy?

Entire communities have issued ordinances, asking citizens not to waste water and forbid its use for purposes other than food and hygiene.

Fines between around €51 to €258 are in place in Varallo, Piedmont, for those not following the rules, reported Italian newspaper La Corriere della Sera.

In Bajardo, a village in the coastal region of Liguria, the authorities have turned off the taps between 8pm and 8am.

The town’s mayor, Francesco Laura, said he had no other choice.

“The springs have dried up. Mountain water no longer arrives and in the village the little that comes from taps is used for cooking and washing,” he told newspaper La Stampa.

Scientists warn that severe droughts can be expected more frequently amid human-caused climate change.

Italy’s winter drought followed record temperatures last summer, in which Sicily is believed to have recorded the highest ever temperature in Europe at 48.8C.

Italy then faced months of storms, record rainfall and flooding before plunging into a dry winter.

The European Commission’s Copernicus Emergency Management Service (CEMS) reported that there has been a constant lack of rain since December 2021.

Member comments

  1. Meanwhile, here on the east coast of Australia we have had our wettest ever summer. Extreme floods and landslides. Crazy times.

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WEATHER: Italy set for another scorching weekend as heatwave continues

African anticyclone ‘Hannibal’ is forecast to bring record-breaking temperatures across the country. Will we witness the hottest May weekend in Italian history?

WEATHER: Italy set for another scorching weekend as heatwave continues

Much to the dismay of many residents already feeling the heat in Italy this week, the African anticyclone known as ‘Hannibal’ shows no sign of letting up. 

The hot air currents sweeping in from Tunisia and Algeria have already caused an unusual heatwave, with temperatures rising well above seasonal averages in many parts of the peninsula over the past week.

However, judging from the latest forecasts, it seems like the worst is yet to come. 

READ ALSO: ‘Four to five light meals a day’: Italy’s official advice during a heatwave

According to weather website, the wave of sticky heat, known in Italian as afa, is expected to reach its peak on Saturday, May 21st: exactly a month before the official start of summertime on June 21st (the summer solstice).

With two days to go until the projected heatwave climax, many experts fear that the temperatures registered over the coming weekend may break records set in May 2003 – the hottest May to date.

Lorenzo Tedici, a meteorologist with IlMeteo, said: “Our first projection shows that, on Saturday 21st, maximum temperatures in Turin, Milan, Bologna, Ferrara, Palermo and Cagliari may well exceed those recorded in May 2003, which would make the current anticyclone a record-setting one.”

READ ALSO: From Venice to Mont Blanc, how is the climate crisis affecting Italy?

So, in short, people up and down the stivale might have the luck (or misfortune – you decide) to witness the hottest May in Italian history. But what temperatures are we talking about, exactly?

It’ll be a weekend of exceptionally high, August-like temperatures, forecasters say with many locations in the north of the country, Tuscany and Sardinia potentially reaching temperatures as high as 35°C, that is about 10 degrees above the seasonal average.

But, other parts of the country won’t fare much better, with the anticyclone currently expected to bring temperatures between 26°C and 32°C to the centre and south of the country.

Even mountainous areas at an altitude of up to 1500 metres will likely be affected by the heatwave. Ergo, there’s almost no place to hide.

According to the latest forecasts, ‘Hannibal’ will keep a tight grip on the country until Monday, May 23rd at the very least.

And it’s not just Italy. You may find some solace in knowing that neighbouring France and Spain are also currently sweltering, with both having already registered temperatures of 12°C above average for this time of year.