Italy's severe drought, which has caused losses in agriculture of approximately 1,000 million euros, is already having an impact on other sectors of the economy and daily life of its citizens. The most affected area in a hydrological year that saw half the rainfall and 70% less snow in recent years is the Po basin. This is the longest and largest river in Italy and is also the one with the lowest levels in the past 70 years. It is this reason why ships from the Second World War are starting to emerge from its depths. Hydroelectric power production in the Po Valley has been reduced by half due to a lack of water.
Many Italian municipalities have approved regulations to cut down on consumption as they prepare for a hot and dry summer. Castenaso, a municipality with 16,000 residents in Bologna, has made it clear that hairdressers cannot wash their clients' hair more often than once. Anybody who violates the regulations could be subject to a fine of between 25 and 500 Euros. An average of 13 liters per hour is lost when running an open tap. More than 20 liters can be lost if there are two washes. Gubellini stated that in the current economic climate, it is impossible to afford it.
Castenaso's "anti-drought" circular also bans the use between 8 and 9 p.m. to water plants or wash cars. Similar regulations were also approved in other Italian municipalities. They even suggested that the water used to wash the vegetables be used for watering the plants, or that dishes be washed using the leftover water from cooking the pasta. . The drought is also affecting public fountains. Milan's City Council, for instance, has taken the decision to shut off water supply and drain 70 municipal wells.
"There is no precedent. It's a sign that climate change is changing politics. It's a way to conserve water but also signals that we face a problem that must carefully managed," explained Pierfrancesco Maran (councilor of the Italian capital). Although the savings are small compared to the amount of water consumed in a city such as ours, we hope it will serve as an invitation for everyone to save wherever possible at home. Mario Delpini (Archbishop of Milan) has offered prayers to the Virgin, asking her to shower rain.
If their prayers fail and the drought persists, as meteorologists forecast, Mario Draghi could declare a state emergency in the next few weeks. Fabrizio Curicio, head of Civil Protection, presented him. He said, "We are defining criteria and measures with regions," on Skytg24. Lombardy and Piedmont, Veneto, Emilia Romagna, and Veneto are the most severely affected areas, but it is also starting to affect the middle of the country. Curcio warned that water rationing could cause water shortages in some areas. He fears that drought and high temperatures may lead to more forest fires.