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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Italy braces for storms as warm autumn weather ends

A long spell of unseasonably warm weather across Italy is expected to end on Monday, with forecasters warning that a series of storms is on the way.

Italy braces for storms as warm autumn weather ends

A short spell of warm weather in early November is not unusual in Italy – it’s referred to as a ‘St Martin’s summer’ – but this year it has lasted around a month in many parts of the country.

The mild autumn weather is now set to come to an abrupt end as a wave of cyclones will move in from the Atlantic this week, said director and meteorologist Antonio Sanò in a forecast on Monday.

The north-west of Italy will see rain on Monday and snow at high altitudes, while showers are expected in central regions.

Weather elsewhere will be changeable, forecasts said, before stormy weather moves to the centre-south by the middle of the week.

READ ALSO: How climate change is creating disputes on the Swiss-Italian border

Conditions are expected to be milder on Thursday before a second cyclone moves in on Friday and Saturday, bringing heavy rain and scattered local thunderstorms to much of the country, Sanò said.

The late arrival of stormy autumn weather will bring temperatures back down to seasonal averages – though sea temperatures remain unusually high, Sanò warned.

This difference in temperatures, meteorologists explain, creates heavy rain clouds bringing the risk of sudden bursts of extreme rainfall; a phenomenon known in Italian as a bomba d’acqua, or ‘water bomb’, which often causes flash flooding.

READ ALSO: Italy records five times more extreme weather events in ten years

Experts say climate change is responsible for changing temperatures which are boosting the intensity and frequency of ‘extreme weather events’ such as floods.

The number of such events in Italy, including droughts, storms, floods, hailstorms, strong winds and tornadoes, has already been 42 percent higher in 2022 so far than last year.