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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Drought-hit Verona introduces restrictions on using drinking water

The city of Verona, in northeast Italy, announced at the weekend restrictions on the use of drinking water, due to an ongoing drought in the Mediterranean country.

Drought-hit Verona introduces restrictions on using drinking water

“Due to the weather situation and its impact on the water supply, the mayor has signed an order restricting the use of drinking water for domestic purposes,” read a message on the city’s website.

Under the drought order, which lasts until the end of August in the town of quarter of a million people, it will be prohibited to use drinking water to water gardens or sports fields.

The water must also not be used to wash cars or fill swimming pools, with a breach of the rules punishable with a fine of up to 500 euros ($520) in the town famous as the home of the ill-starred lovers Romeo and Juliet.

Municipalities across Italy have begun introducing some form of water rationing after an unusually hot and dry spring sparked widespread alarm.

The Po river, Italy’s longest river and its largest reservoir of fresh water, is suffering its worst drought in 70 years.

The Maggiore and Garda lakes are both far lower than usual for this time of year, while further south, the level of the River Tiber that runs through Rome has also dropped.

Last week, the mayor of Milan announced the northern Italian city’s fountains would be switched off as part of water restrictions imposed due to the drought.

Italy’s largest agricultural association, Coldiretti, has warned that the drought is putting over 30 percent of national agricultural production and half of livestock farming in the Po Valley at risk.

The northern region of Lombardy has called a state of emergency, directing mayors to curtail non-essential water use, such as street washing and watering parks and sportsgrounds.

The weather conditions have also hit Italy’s hydroelectric plants.

Hydropower facilities, mostly located in the mountains in the country’s north, provide almost one fifth of Italy’s energy demands.

But the lack of rain is causing problems, at a time when Rome is desperately trying to wean itself off its dependence on Russian gas due to the war in Ukraine.