Romans threatened with water rationing as Italy’s heatwave drags on

By Angela Giuffrida in Rome and Matthew Taylor
Monday 24 July 2017 12.11 EDT

Half of capital’s 3 million residents could have water switched off for eight hours a day after Italy’s driest spring for 60 years

A tourist shelters from the sun near the Colosseum in Rome. Italy is gripped by drought as the summer heat continues with no sign of rain. Photograph: Andrew Medichini/AP

More than a million residents of Rome are facing water rationing for up to eight hours a day as the prolonged heatwave that has ravaged southern Europe takes its toll on the Italian capital.

Some businesses are already reporting sporadic disruption to their supply, while last month mayor Virginia Raggi turned off thousands of the city’s public drinking fountains in an effort to save water as the drought set in.

Officials from the Italian utility Acea, the Lazio region that contains Rome, and the environment ministry will meet this week to discuss the possibility of rationing the water supply to about half of the city’s 3 million residents.

Lazio’s governor, Nicola Zingaretti, has ordered that a ban on drawing water from drought-hit Lake Bracciano, which lies about 40km from the capital and supplies some of its water, will come into force on 28 July.

“They are working on it and looking at some hypotheses; a decision should be made on Wednesday,” a spokesperson for Acea told the Guardian.

Water rationing in the Italian capital would be the latest consequence of a series of heatwaves in southern Europe this summer that have fuelled wildfires, exacerbated droughts and led Greek authorities to close some of the most popular tourist sites.

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