Historic drought exposes Italy’s weaknesses

Another consequence of the drought: hydroelectric power production has fallen sharply, while dams (mostly located in the Alps) produce nearly 20% of the country’s electricity.

The current lack of water in the north of the country is compounded by dilapidated infrastructure.

“The situation is dramatic. If the water problem persists, my crop may be 100% devastated,” said Gianluigi Tacchini, a rice farmer in Santa Cristina e Bissone, near Milan.

Beyond the rice fields, which are very water-intensive, 30% of agricultural production and half of livestock are threatened by the current drought, according to an agricultural union.

Faced with the historic decline in the level of the Po River (read above), restrictions and rationing are multiplying.

This drought, unprecedented since the 1950s, highlights the fragility of Italy’s infrastructure, says Francesco Cioffi.

For this professor of hydrology at the Roman University of La Sapienza, it reveals “the absence of an effective policy of resource management”.

The state itself estimates that 36% of water reserves are lost each year due to the dilapidated pipe and storage network.

A rate that rises, in some cities, up to 70%.

Francesco Cioffi considers it urgent to invest massively in more efficient irrigation techniques, the recycling of water used in industry or the separation of drinking water from that intended for other uses.