News"Water war" in Italy: Rain is finally coming -...

"Water war" in Italy: Rain is finally coming – but there are still huge concerns about Lake Garda and the Po Valley

Created: 08/07/2022 06:23 p.m

Völlig ausgetrocknet: Der Fluss Po mitten Turin, wogegen Klimaaktivisten zuletzt protestierten (Foto).
Completely dried up: The Po river in the middle of Turin, against which climate activists recently protested (photo). © IMAGO / NurPhoto

It’s raining again on Lake Garda and in the Po Valley after weeks of drought. Nevertheless, the problems in northern Italy remain gigantic because of the drought. Also on the popular Lake Garda.

Munich/Sirmione/Ferrara – Light rain showers. What sounds like an ordinary weather forecast is causing a collective sigh of relief in northern Italy this Sunday (7 August) and Monday. Even if it’s just a matter of the famous drop in the ocean. Figuratively speaking.

Drought and lack of water in northern Italy: finally rain between Lake Garda and the Adriatic Sea

According to the online portal , light rain was announced for the city of Turin in Piedmont for this Sunday evening from 7 p.m. The same applied to the tourist hotspot Sirmione on Lake Garda during the course of the day. It also applied to Piacenza, which is located in the Emilia-Romagna region on the Po plain. Here the chance of rain on Sunday was up to 90 percent. A little further east in the direction of the Adriatic Sea in Ferrara, according to , it should be up to 80 percent on Monday. It’s the first time it’s been raining in many areas of northern Italy for weeks. Nevertheless, the consequences of drought and dryness are alarming.

Also on Lake Garda, the largest water reservoir in northern Italy with a capacity of 50 cubic kilometers. The neighboring communities and the national regulatory authority have been at loggerheads for weeks because water is being released via the locks at Peschiera del Garda via the Mincio tributary into the Po.

Drought in northern Italy: dispute over water between the Lake Garda community association and the authorities

“We have to protect our shipping and fish while ensuring that the farmers around the lake can still irrigate their crops in August,” said Pierlucio Ceresa, executive director of the Garda Association of Municipalities, recently. He referred to one of the lowest water levels in recent years. In his opinion, the increased flow of 30 cubic meters per second would not do the Po River any good, Ceresa said: “The river needs at least 500 additional cubic meters per second at the moment. The only thing we can achieve with this measure is that after the Po, Lake Garda also gets sick.”

The only thing we can achieve with this measure is that after the Po, Lake Garda also gets sick.

Pierlucio Ceresa, General Manager of the Municipal Association of Garda

To put this in perspective: Lake Garda was last filled with more than 60 percent of its original volume. But: Meuccio Berselli, head of the national regulatory authority for the Po, disagrees with the Garda municipal association. He vehemently called for “collegiality and cooperation”. Several media have already written about a “water war”.

According to the editorial network Germany (RND) , national laws cover the pumping of water in crisis situations. And: As the Austrian standard writes, the reserves from Lake Maggiore, for example, have been used up.

Drought in Northern Italy: Dramatic situation in the Po Valley between Turin, Parma and Adria

The situation with a view of the Po water levels in the measuring station of Pontelagoscuro near Ferrara is downright dramatic. Already at the end of June, only 180 cubic meters per second flowed towards the Adriatic Sea, 1500 to 2000 cubic meters of water would be normal there. The consequences for nature, agriculture and other sectors in Italy are devastating.

“At the moment we still have enough water in Ostana, but the situation is serious. In many other places it is already difficult to get water. The water is already being brought from the cities to the mountainous region,” Emanuela Zilio explains to Die Zeit . Zilio is co-founder of the NGO “Kooperative Viso a Viso” in Ostana, where the Po rises in the Cottian Alps. She explains: “It is getting warmer and warmer in the mountains and the tree species that need cooler temperatures are dying. The same goes for fish, insects and plants – they disappear and other species settle in.”

In the video: drought and forest fires in Italy: Lake Garda pumped out – majority of the fires avoidable

312 kilometers further in Boretto near Parma, the effects are different. “I’ve never seen the level of the butt so low. It is currently 4.18 meters below sea level. This year is even worse than the severe drought of 2003. My business has already been hit hard by the restrictions imposed by the Corona pandemic. Now the ‘Stradivari’ can’t set sail again,” says Giuliano Landin, the operator of an excursion and pleasure ship of the time .

Concerns for Lake Garda and Po River: agriculture and other sectors in northern Italy affected

Ship’s captain Landin suggests: “To deal with the water shortage, one could build dams every 40 to 50 kilometers, for example. Low enough that they only hold back water at low levels to protect the ecosystem.”

If it doesn’t rain very soon, there’s going to be a disaster here.

Paolo Carrà, President of the Novara, Biella and Vercelli rice farmers

Because: In many places, the rising water temperature is causing the oxygen content to drop, and whole stocks of farmed molluscs and fish are being lost. “If it doesn’t rain very soon, there will be a disaster here,” says Paolo Carrà, President of the Novara, Biella and Vercelli rice farmers. 4,000 companies in Piedmont produce 800,000 tons of rice per year – 27 percent of the entire EU production.

The rice farmers are expecting crop failures of 50 to 70 percent due to the water shortage and drought. It’s raining again in northern Italy. Nevertheless, the problems remain gigantic. (pm)

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