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