30 April 2024

World Water Series – Water Conservation in Italy

Italy, renowned for its beautiful landmarks and flavoursome cuisine, may not strike you as a nation grappling with a water crisis. However, each year brings drier seasons, and an alarming amount of water is lost leading to the European country facing water scarcity more than ever before.

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Blog Cover Water in Italy

In this article we will explore the dynamics of Italy’s water supply, its significance within its regions, and some initiatives that could alleviate these challenges.

Factors Contributing to Italy’s Water Scarcity:

  • Infrastructure Leaks: Leakage in the infrastructure results in significant water wastage, equivalent to the annual water needs of 43 million people.
  • Rising Temperatures: Escalating temperatures increase the evaporation of water supplies.
  • Regional Disparities: While the north receives twice as much rainfall, geographical constraints impede efficient water distribution.

The Impacts:

  • Wastage: More than a third of available water is wasted every year, with 94 percent of households experiencing irregular water service.
  • Population Affected: 32 percent of the population faces scarcity of drinking water.
  • Losses: Out of every 100 litres of water conveyed through Italian aqueducts, 42 litres are lost.
  • Water Rationing: Severe droughts coupled with inadequate irrigation maintenance has led to water rationing, affecting over 800,000 citizens.

Regions Struggling with Water Supply:

Residents in regions such as Sardinia, Lazio and numerous southern areas are grappling with increasingly frequent water shortages. In Sicily, while not the most severely affected region, about 22 percent of their families endure interruptions to their water supply. Recently, a state of emergency was declared as the island faced its most severe drought in nearly two decades. A shortage of winter rainfall following the summer months depleted water reserves, making the second half of 2023 the driest period in almost a century. With reservoirs dwindling and water being rationed, farmers are witnessing crop failures, particularly citrus fruits, olives, and wheat. Although many Sicilians are accustomed to water scarcity and have implemented measures like rooftop water collection tanks, but these strategies are faltering in light of the recent prolonged dry periods.

Strategies for Improvement:

Addressing water scarcity requires collaborative efforts:

  • Infrastructure Maintenance: Urgent repairs and maintenance work on existing pipelines are imperative to withstand the impact of reduced rainfall and cater to the needs of the 44 million inhabitants.
  • Desalination: Investing in desalination plants. Presently, Italy produces approximately 4 percent of its freshwater by desalination. Investing in the construction of desalination plants is crucial for long-term water security.
  • Water Treatment: Implementing water treatment plants to facilitate reuse of 475 million cubic metres of treated water annually.
  • National Recovery Plan: With the Po River running dry, attention turns to the National Recovery and Resilience Plan which allocates resources to address critical issues like water supply.

Italy’s endeavour for water conservation requires proactive measures, collective efforts, and an unwavering commitment to preserve this invaluable resource. By maintaining constant vigilance and collective action, they can secure a sustainable and productive future ensuring water remains freely accessible to all.