Jul 23, 2017

Rome facing water rationing as Italy suffers driest spring for 60 years

Metropolitan City of Rome
Italy
by
The Guardian via Associated Press
Italy is gripped by drought as the summer heat continues with no sign of rain Photo: Filippo Monteforte, AFP/Getty Images
Italy is gripped by drought as the summer heat continues with no sign of rain Photo: Filippo Monteforte, AFP/Getty Images

Scarce rain and chronically leaky aqueducts have combined to put Romans at risk of drastic water rationing as soon as this week.

Sky TG24 TV meteorologists noted on Sunday that Italy had experienced one of its driest springs in some 60 years and that some parts of the country had seen rainfall totals 80% below normal. Among the hardest-hit regions was Sardinia, which is seeking natural disaster status.

Farmers’ lobby Coldiretti last week estimated €2bn ($2.3bn) worth of damage had been done to Italian agriculture so far. Dairy farmers are lamenting drops in milk production. Among those suffering are farmers growing canning tomatoes in the southeastern region of Puglia, wine grapes throughout much of Italy and those cultivating olives – all signature crops for the nation.

Another afflicted area was the province in Parma, an area in north-central Italy renowned for Parmigiano Reggiano cheese and prized prosciutto.

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Rome had 26 rainy days in this year’s first six months, compared to 88 in the first half of 2016, with precipitation totals in those same periods more than four times higher last year than this year.

But water supply pipelines in the Rome area – famed in ancient Roman times for its aqueducts, segments of which still stand – are notoriously leaky.