Water shortage: drought emergency declared in northern Italy

Water shortage: drought emergency declared in northern Italy

Status: 04.07.2022 at 10:40 PM

Northern Italy is facing its worst drought in 70 years, and a massive fire broke out in Rome. The government has declared a state of emergency in many areas. Spain and Portugal also suffer from extreme drought.

Prime Minister Mario Draghi’s Italian government has declared a state of emergency in five regions in view of the drought in the north of the country. This allows officials to order immediate measures such as water rationing, bypassing the usual rules.

As announced by the government after the cabinet meeting, the state of emergency in the regions of Emilia-Romagna, Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Lombardy, Piedmont and Veneto will remain in force until the end of the year. Affected are the areas around the Po river, an area that accounts for about a third of the agricultural production in Italy. It is facing the worst drought in 70 years.

The water level of Lago Maggiore and Lake Garda is well below normal for this time of year. There is also less water in the Tiber which flows through Rome.

The government also announced that it would provide 36.5 million euros in emergency aid. According to earlier media reports, Draghi is considering appointing a commissioner to fight the drought, just like the government had set up a special post to fight the coronavirus pandemic.

great fire in rome

According to the fire department, a massive fire broke out in a park in Rome, a few kilometers from the Vatican, to the northwest of the city. A helicopter supports units on the ground in extinguishing the fire. A partial rain of ash fell from the sky in the heart of the city and a high column of smoke could be seen. Initially no one was reported to be injured. Emergency services evacuated children from two sports centers.

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On the popular holiday island of Sicily, the highest forest fire alert level applies in several provinces, for example around Palermo and Messina. On Monday, civil defense reported five requests for support from firefighters from Sicily and Lazio, which circle the capital Rome. Further requests came from Calabria, Apulia and Venetia in southern Italy. Officials said all five fires have been brought under control.

Extreme drought in Spain and Portugal

Spain and Portugal also suffer from extreme drought. According to a study published in the journal Nature Geoscience, parts of the two countries are drier than in 1,000 years. This is because of changes in the Azores high pressure area resulting from climate change. This has a major impact on the weather and long-term climate trends in Western Europe. According to the study’s authors, winter rainfall is “critical” to the ecological and economic health of the Iberian Peninsula.

Previous studies weren’t able to show that man-made climate change is responsible for changes in climate in the North Atlantic – now the authors say they’ve found the connection.

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