Italy declares a state of emergency in five northern regions

Italy on Monday declared states of emergency in five northern regions and announced the release of a 36.5 million euro ($49 million) fund to deal with the drought that has plagued the Po Valley for several weeks.

• Also read: Glacier collapse in Italy linked to global warming

• Also read: Italy: In view of the drought, Verona rations drinking water

The Council of Ministers has approved the imposition of a state of emergency in Emilia-Romagna, Friuli Venezia Giulia, Lombardy, Veneto and Piedmont until December 31, the government said in a press release.

The Italian peninsula is facing an unusually early heatwave accompanied by a lack of rainfall, particularly in the agricultural Po plain, which has been hit by the worst drought in 70 years.

The state of emergency aims to grant “extraordinary means and powers” to ensure the implementation of the urgent measures needed to ensure public safety, repair damage to public and private property and normal living conditions.

According to the country’s largest agricultural union, Coldiretti, the drought is threatening more than 30% of the country’s agricultural production and half of the farms in the Po Valley, which mainly produces Parma ham.

Lake Maggiore and Lake Garda have below-average water levels for this time of year, while further south, the Tiber, which flows through Rome, has also dropped.

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

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

Another consequence of the drought: the production of hydroelectric power has fallen sharply, while hydroelectric power stations, mostly located in the mountains of northern Italy, produce almost 20% of the country’s energy.

The announcement comes a day after at least seven people died after a glacier collapsed in the Italian Alps, which Prime Minister Mario Draghi said was “undoubtedly” linked to global warming.

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