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Water rationing looming on Italy as drought hits northern regions

Max Civili

Press TV, Rome

The worst drought in 70 years and soaring temperatures have seriously affected Italy's north-western regions, with 125 towns being asked to ration water as the 400-mile-long Po River's level goes more than three-quarters down.

Italy's northwest has been hit by the worst drought crisis since 1952 when temperatures reached as much as 40 degrees in some centers in the Lombardy region.

Daytime temperatures have been averaging 3-4 degrees over normal for weeks and in some northern areas, it has not rained for almost four months.

Such a combination of heat and rainfall deficit has caused the Po river, which flows for 400 Km from West to East of Italy before spilling out into the Adriatic, to dry up to unprecedented levels. Its depth currently measures up to almost 3 meters below the zero gauges, well below the average for June.

Since January, local authorities had known that the situation would be dramatic across the Po Valley. Utilitalia, a national Italian federation of water companies, has asked for drinking water supplies to be cut off at night in over 100 towns in the Piedmont and Lombardy regions.

According to the National Farmers Association Coldiretti, the Po river drought threatens 15% of the national farm output, and damage is currently estimated at over two billion Euros.

Furthermore, the recent increase in energy and fuel prices aggravated by the Ukraine crisis risks taking the agri-food sector on its knees.

The regional government of Lombardy is reportedly asking for a state of emergency to be declared by Prime Minister Mario Draghi. Three other northern regions, namely Piedmont, Veneto, and Emilia-Romagna, are said to join Lombardy as the drought situation is becoming “alarming”.

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