climate change: river Po levels dangerously low

Climate Crisis: Northern Italy agricultural output under threat

By Region Environment News North-east Italy North-west Italy

The climate crisis is being felt in northern Italy. The river Po is 72% lower than it should be and northern Italy’s agricultural output is under threat. Piedmont and Lombardy say they will ask the government to declare a state of emergency due to the drought.

Piedmont Governor Alberto Cirio said on Friday 170 regional towns have ordered water only be used for essential purposes. By essetial, they mean such as for drinking and food preparation. The severe drought that has gripped Italy, especially northern regions, has escalated so such measures are necessary.

He added 10 towns cut off their water supplies completely at night because of the drought.

“At the moment the situation regarding civilian use of drinking water is under control but we have a very serious state of emergency for agriculture,” he said. “Piedmont is in a water crisis that is worse than the 2003 one and it had the second hottest May since 2009.

“The volume of the Po is 72% lower than it should be. The problem regards the source of the water because there is no snow in the mountains (to melt and feed the river). We don’t have the same emergency where supplies come from water tables.”

Farm association CIA said the lack of water for irrigation threatened 50% of northern Italy’s agricultural production.

State of Emergency needed in Piedmont and Lombardy

Piedmont and Lombardy say they will ask the government to declare a state of emergency due to the drought. Some areas have not had any rain for over 110 days after one of the driest winters in decades. There is little or no snow on the nation’s mountains.

Meuccio Berselli, the secretary general of the River Po district authority, said Wednesday the drought hitting Italy’s longest river means some northern towns need water supplies brought in by trucks.  Berselli told ANSA that trucks have been taking water to dozens of towns in Piedmont and Lombardy because “the local reservoirs are fed by sources that no longer exist”.

More frequent and intense droughts are among the consequences of human-caused climate change, scientists say. An official report released on Thursday said the drought alert has spread from the Po valley to central rivers like the Arno, the Aniene and the Tiber. The rivers have half the water they normally do at this time of the year.

The ANBI water resource observatory reported this as “the first season in which the consequences of climate change are being seen in a massive way on the (Italian) peninsula”.

The climate crisis is also affecting Italy’s fish and seafood farming sector. Higher water temperatures and less rain are increasing salinity, the Feagripesca-Confcooperative association told ANSA.

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