Italy declares state of emergency due to worst drought in decades
The almost dry bed of the Po is pictured near the Michelotti Dam in Turin, as the Italian government declares a state of emergency due to the worst drought in decades. Photo by Alessandro Di Marco/EPA-EFE
July 5 (UPI) — Italy, which is suffering the worst drought in 70 years, has declared a state of emergency in five northern regions.
Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi’s government has declared a emergency state On Monday in Lombardy, Emilia-Romagna, Piedmont, Friuli-Venezia Giulia and Veneto due to low rainfall and rising temperatures that caused the country’s longest river to drop to record lows.
“There are two categories of causes of this water crisis: The first is the rainfall deficit of the last three years. There has been a low level of precipitation, of course not only this year but also in previous years,” Draghi told a press conference on Thursday. “The general rise in temperatures also contributes to this; there is no doubt that climate change is having an effect.”
The hardest hit area is along the Po River, which crosses the northern part of Italy from the Pian del Re of Monte Viso to the Adriatic Sea near Venice, with water levels down three quarters from normal.
The Po River, Italy’s longest, serves more than half of the country’s agriculture and livestock, according to European Commission data, with farmers’ groups predicting their harvests will drop by more than 30 %.
“For the Po basin, this is the most serious water crisis in the last 70 years, according to analysis by the Po District Basin Authority,” Draghi said.
Italy’s drought emergency is also affecting the central part of the country, with water levels in the Arno, Aniene and Tiber rivers in Rome halving.
A number of cities, including Milan, have closed their decorative fountains, while many areas along the Po River are restrict water use during the day and shut off the water at night. Some cities have to bring in water by truck.
Italy’s Council of Ministers, which will appoint a special commissioner to deal with the water crisis, has earmarked $37.5 million to help each of the regions deal with water shortages and resolve any water issues. hydraulic and leakage infrastructure of the Po.
“That’s why in Italy there is usually a high level of leakage, water loss: we are talking about around 30% or more,” Draghi said. “To give you an idea, the total in Israel is 3% and in other European countries 5% to 8%. A contingency plan is definitely needed to deal with this emergency now.”