With leaks, scarce rain, Italy at risk for ra­tioning

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - INTERNATIONAL - FRANCES D’EMILIO

ROME — Scarce rain and leaky aque­ducts have com­bined this sum­mer to hurt farm­ers in much of Italy and put Ro­mans at risk for 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 per­cent be­low nor­mal.

Among the hard­est-hit re­gions was Sar­dinia, which is seek­ing nat­u­ral dis­as­ter sta­tus.

Farm­ers’ lobby Coldiretti last week es­ti­mated $2.3 bil­lion worth of dam­age so far to Ital­ian agri­cul­ture. 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.

Rome’s wa­ter sup­ply wor­ries have turned po­lit­i­cal. Last week, the gover­nor of Lazio re­gion, which in­cludes the Ital­ian cap­i­tal, or­dered no more wa­ter drawn from Lake Brac­ciano, which sup­plies some of the cap­i­tal, be­cause the dras­ti­cally de­creas­ing wa­ter level posed dan­ger to the aquatic life of the lake, some 25 miles from the city.

The lake used to be used only for backup wa­ter sup­ply but re­cent years have seen it be­ing tapped on a reg­u­lar ba­sis.

Rome wa­ter com­pany Acea warned that with the lake elim­i­nated for wa­ter sup­plies, dras­tic ra­tioning loomed.

Ital­ian me­dia said stag­gered wa­ter sup­ply shut­downs could last as long as eight hours daily in al­ter­nat­ing neigh­bor­hoods and start as soon as Wed­nes­day. Rome’s famed foun­tains risk be­ing turned off.

Since the city of Rome is a ma­jor share­holder in Acea, pop­ulist 5-Star Move­ment Mayor Vir­ginia Raggi was feel­ing some heat. Michele Meta, a Demo­cratic party law­maker from Rome, de­manded to know why Acea “doesn’t have other so­lu­tions be­sides ra­tioning and stag­ger­ing the cap­i­tal’s wa­ter” sup­ply?

Mother Na­ture was blamed in good part.

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.

La Stampa daily re­ported on Sun­day that wa­ter, en­ergy and en­vi­ron­ment com­pa­nies lobby Util­i­talia an­a­lyzed com­pa­nies serv­ing roughly half of Italy’s pop­u­la­tion and con­cluded that the wa­ter loss rate from in­ad­e­quate in­fra­struc­ture, of­ten decades-old, ranged from 26 per­cent in the north to 46 per­cent in the cen­tral and south­ern parts of the coun­try.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.