Drought: Italy declares state of emergency in five northern regions

Drought: Italy declares state of emergency in five northern regions

Italy's longest river is hit by the worst drought to hit the country in 70 years.

Italy on Monday declared a state of emergency in five northern regions and announced the release of a fund of 36.5 million euros (C$49 million) to face the drought that has been affecting the Po plain for several weeks.

The Council of Ministers has approved the establishment of the state of emergency in Emilia-Romagna, Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Lombardy, Veneto and in Piedmont until December 31, the government announced in a statement.

The Italian peninsula is facing an unusually early heat wave accompanied by a lack of rainfall, especially in the agricultural Po plain, hit by its worst drought in 70 years.

The state of emergency aims to grant extraordinary means and powers to ensure the implementation of the urgent interventions necessary to guarantee public safety, the repair of damage suffered by public and private property, and the normal living conditions of the population.

According to the largest agricultural union in the country, Coldiretti, the drought threatens more than 30% of national agricultural production and half of the farms in the Po plain, where Parma ham is produced in particular.

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Lakes Maggiore and Garda have water levels below normal for this time of year, while further south the level of the Tiber which crosses Rome also fell.

The Po represents the largest reservoir of water on the peninsula, much of which is used by farmers.

The dry bed of the Po, the longest river and largest reservoir of fresh water in Italy, has partially dried up, in Boretto, Italy.

In recent days, several municipalities have announced restrictive measures: Verona, a city of a quarter of a million inhabitants, has thus rationed the use of drinking water, while Milan decided to close its decorative fountains.

Another consequence of the drought: the production of hydroelectric energy fell sharply, so that hydroelectric facilities, mostly located in the mountain ranges of northern Italy, produce almost 20% of the energy in this country.

This announcement comes a day after at least seven people died after a glacier collapsed in the Italian Alps, no doubt linked to global warming, according to Prime Minister Mario Draghi.

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