In Italy, drought is becoming an increasingly serious problem

In Italy, drought is becoming an increasingly serious problem

In Italy

The effects of drought don't just translate into weather data. In any case, unequivocal elements: from December to the end of February, Italy received 80% of rain and 60% less snow than the seasonal average. A deficit that is associated with an extraordinarily warm end of the winter, especially in the North.

But for those who live in many of the country's northern cities, drought is beyond scientific data: you can breathe it. It is not the usual spring air: even the farmers say alarmed. Coldiretti denounces that drought has become the most significant calamity for Italian crops: the organization estimates average damage at around one billion euros per year.

All of this means less water. For fluvial arteries such as the Po (and its tributaries), in whose basin 40% of the national GDP is built and which contributes to the water supply of 16 million people. For the regions of the South, already suffering from water in normal times. In some of these, the poor state of the water network leads to a loss of water of 60% or 70%.

The high temperatures and the reduction in rainfall that fuel the current drought are not accidental: Italy is one of the countries most sensitive to climate variations induced by its position in the Mediterranean, a global hotspot. For this, we must be aware that droughts will be more and more frequent in our country. And to adopt all the useful solutions to preserve our water: certainly for economic reasons, but above all to protect the drinkable availability of the most precious asset for our existence.

The data of the drought we are experiencing The risks of drought in Italy for fauna and flora The risks of drought in Italy for agriculture and livestock Water to drink: why a problem has arisen in Italy Solutions to intervene on scarcity water in Italy Data on the drought we are experiencing According to information from the Iconaclima website, the winter of 2022 in Italy was the sixth driest in the last 63 years. In climatic terms, this means an average of 1.7 ° C more than in the thirty years 1981-2010. Especially in the North (+ 2.3 ° C) and in particular in the north-western area (+ 2.6 ° C). Drought is particularly severe in Piedmont and in the Veneto plain. And then in the Great River of Italy: on 8 March the Po showed the lowest discharge levels compared to the last thirty years.

A truly dramatic figure, because since 2003 it was strongly reported the drought that affected the water wealth of the Po in the summer, this is the first time that the suffering of water is already evident in early spring. In this case, the supply problem arises above all upstream, in the Monviso, where the lack of snow - which has affected the entire Alpine arc - has created a situation of scarcity for the Po typical of the month of August. But the record temperatures of this seasonal tail also contribute to the drought. Rome, for example, scored + 2.2 ° C this winter. And the mix of high temperatures with the scarcity of rainfall has meant an increase in air pollution in cities already sensitive to the problem, such as Milan.

The risks of drought in Italy for fauna and flora The droughts of the winter period they are particularly serious because during this season, as in the autumn one, soils and aquifers must be supplied with water, in order to better cope with the lack of rain and the heat in summer. Furthermore, according to the Italian Association of Atmospheric Sciences and Meteorology (Aisam), "drought and aridity of the land also represent a risk for fires, especially on the occasion of strong Föhn wind days, as has happened in recent weeks" . Unfortunately, the number of fires in January quadrupled compared to the same month in 2021.

The latest UN climate report focuses on the risks to cities According to scientists, two and a half billion people are will move to urban centers by 2050 but the environment is increasingly fragile and extreme events more frequent Read the article "All signs of climate change - continues Aisam - and of that global warming that also the VI Report of the intergovernmental panel for climate change (IPCC) published in 2021 has definitive unequivocal ". Here another evidence emerges: Italy will have more and more drought seasons due to global warming.

The Mediterranean basin is a climate hotspot: an expression referring to the regions of the planet that are warming faster than others (such as the Amazon or the Sahel). Here are some practical examples of the effects of drought on flora and fauna. According to surveys by the European extreme events climate index and the CMCC, between now and 2050 many tree species could disappear throughout the boot. Flowering and winter hardening will be anticipated, causing a series of drastic changes for our flora. It is sure to be warmer in the next few years and this will bring big changes for our primary sector. Farmers will need to keep animals indoors more often and this will reduce meat and milk production. Invasive species such as crows and wild boars or insects such as mosquitoes will proliferate.

The risks of drought in Italy for agriculture and livestock The VI IPCC report identifies the scarcity of water resources and substantial losses for agricultural production as one of the most significant risk areas for Europe. "The drought caused by the high winter temperatures and the scarcity of rain is putting traditional agriculture on its knees: saving water has become essential for the survival of crops and it is increasingly important to find innovative solutions to produce in a more sustainable way" he declares Thomas Marino, co-founder of The Circle, the largest aquaponic farm on the continent.

Today the water shortage of the Po basin threatens over a third of the national agricultural production. These are in particular the cultivation of fruit, vegetables, tomato sauce and wheat. And half of the livestock in the Po valley. According to Coldiretti, the threat to the development of the meadows is worrying which, should they follow in pain, will require emergency irrigation. Also in this area, crops sown in autumn such as wheat, barley and ryegrass are at risk. In these days the corn crops are starting, but the land is dry and therefore even more water will be needed. If we look to the future, again according to data from the European Extreme Events Climate Index on 2050, at the agricultural level in the South, iconic plants of Mediterranean culture such as vines and olive trees could slowly disappear, replaced by kiwis and barley.

Apple orchards will disappear in the north and unprecedented cultivation spaces will open up in areas previously protected by ice and snow: in this area of ​​the country some crops that until now have been typical garrisons of Southern Italy will move to this area.

In Sicily, global warming has supplanted citrus fruits with tropical fruit On the island, climate change has significantly disrupted traditional crops: fewer citrus and almonds, more tropical fruit and even coffee plantations. Local farmers adapt to resist the effects of the climate Read the article Drinking water: why a problem has arisen in Italy The first problem triggered by drought remains in any case the threat to the supply of drinking water for the population. heard about Donato Berardi, director of the Ref Research Laboratory. Berardi's commitment also translated into his participation as a guest in the last episode - to be released on March 24 - of the podcast series They say that of Chora Media for the Hera Group, which explores how a circular economy of water resources is fundamental for protect the environment. Berardi confirms that the current problems follow "trends that have been underway for about twenty years and that require us to conserve water resources".

In the South, according to the director, many regions owe their water supply to sources that are located in other regions. The South lacks "the integration of aqueduct systems and primary supply, or the distribution of the water resource: it is certainly not abundant but it is also poorly managed. There is a big issue that is the lack in the South of a supra-regional, public authority, which was foreseen in a budget law of 2018. Law that should have taken care of securing the reservoirs and the water supply in the South, on which so far little has been done ".

In the North there is certainly more water available, but also its use higher than the national average. “Intensive crops such as corn need a large supply of water. They arise from a historical moment when water was more abundant and therefore certain crops in Northern Italy need to be strategically rethought ", says Berardi. In addition to the lack of major works (such as the construction of reservoirs), above all a vast disruption in ordinary management is paid for. We think of aqueducts and water dispersion. On average, 41.4 liters of water are lost in our country for every 100 introduced into the distribution networks: in some southern regions it is even 70%.

"This year, Istat reminded us that in 2019 there were 9 capital municipalities in Italy that have undergone rationing, or where the water supply has been reduced or suspended for a period. Where am I? All in the South. The causes are to be found in water maintenance ". On this aspect, explains Berardi, "a process has been inaugurated by the Regulatory Authority that deals with the water service which foresees a progressive reduction of dispersion over the next twenty years. The funds of the NRP should be primarily directed to the water sector. The problem is particularly sensitive in the South, because if we exclude the Apulian Aqueduct, there are very few industrial companies in this sector. And the fact that they are missing means that the maintenance of the water networks has been entrusted to the municipalities over the decades, with the consequence that they have obviously failed from this point of view and therefore the networks are in these conditions ". This is waste that has become unacceptable in an era in which water in Italy is about to become more and more precious.

The emergency of the climate is also changing the water cycle An Australian study warns on the effects of global warming on the water cycle: they would be much more important than what is predicted by current climate models, with concrete risks for infrastructure, agriculture and biodiversity Read the article Solutions to intervene on water scarcity in Italy According to data from Berardi, Italian families consume on average 200 liters of water every day, which go away for washing, for food needs, for home hygiene: "In Italy we are somehow children of a balance inherited from history which basically has never had major problems with water, so we have inherited consumption behaviors that lead us to use it in a not very rational way ".

And in any case, we don't like that from the tap, since almost 30% of Italians buy bottled water because they don't trust them: wrongly, because what arrives in our homes is at least as controlled as the one we buy . "We are the country in Europe that has the highest water consumption and this says a lot about the fact that water is cheap: it induces a very little economical use". So, between bad habits and faulty networks, we waste our excellent domestic drinking water every day. Today, according to the director of the Ref, we need to focus on two aspects: use of funds from the Pnrre water pricing to invest in the maintenance of our water network.

“We have done very little because we have invested very little. We citizens have to get used to the fact that investment is necessary: ​​if we spent three times as much we would probably have a much better model ", says Berardi.

In Italy today we pay a water bill that is around 2 euros per cubic meter water: in Germany and France each citizen spends on average between 5 and 6 euros per cubic meter. "It is a tariff issue: in Italy we have this naïve idea that water, since it is a fundamental resource for life, must be guaranteed and insured for us". If to this small individual sacrifice that derives from a change of mentality we added a correct expenditure of the funds of the NRP "we could really implement a long-term strategy for water supply". A strategy to implement different actions at the same time and solve the main problems on the subject: maintenance and development of the water network; strengthening of the storage capacity of reservoirs; implementation of desalinators; interconnection of aqueduct systems; increase in exchanges between regions.

Finally, greater individual responsibility for domestic water consumption. As with energy, "we must pay attention to individual and collective behavior" concludes Berardi. There are many indications on how to waste as little water as possible: among many, if you want to start right now, here are the advices of Legambiente.

Powered by Blogger.