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
A fisherman stands on dry sands at the confluence between the Ticino and Po River at Ponte della Becca, near Linarolo, south of Pavia, on June 17, 2022. - 125 towns in the regions of Piedmont and Lombardy have been asked to ration water amid the worst drought to affect northern Italy’s rivers in 70 years. (Photo by Piero CRUCIATTI / AFP)

“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.

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Historic drought resurfaces World War II bomb in Italy’s River Po

Historically low water levels in northern Italy's River Po exposed an unexploded WWII-era bomb over the weekend.

Historic drought resurfaces World War II bomb in Italy's River Po

Bomb disposal experts from the Italian military were called on to safely detonate the 450kg bomb, which they achieved via a controlled explosion on Sunday.

Around 3,000 residents from the nearby village of Borgo Virgilio near Mantua in northern Italy were evacuated as a safety precaution, according to army officials.

“At first, some of the inhabitants said they would not move, but in the last few days, we think we have persuaded everyone,” the village’s mayor Francesco Aporti told Reuters.

READ ALSO: Venice shuts down for WWII-era bomb removal

The bomb, which reportedly contained 240kg of explosives, was transferred to a quarry approximately 30km away from where it was discovered before being blown up.

The device came to light after a months-long drought – described as Italy’s worst in 70 years – caused parts of the River Po to dry up, leaving its riverbed exposed for the first time in decades.

Italy, along with much of continental Europe, has suffered from a series of extreme heatwaves over the summer, causing devastation to its agricultural sector and a sharp increase in wildfires.

The approximately four thousand risotto rice paddies in the Po Valley around the River Po have been particularly hard hit, with farmers forced to abandon some fields altogether try to rescue others.

READ ALSO: Italy’s risotto rice fields decimated by worst drought in decades

“The situation is desperate, not to say apocalyptic,” one rice farmer told AFP news agency in late July.

Italy supplies more than half of the European Union’s rice, most of which is grown in the Po Valley in a 220,000-hectare area stretching west from Pavia in Lombardy to Vercelli and Novara in Piedmont.