A sizzling summer ravages Italy

To deal with the water crisis, most Italian mayors have signed the decree banning the extraction and consumption of drinking water. Watering and irrigation of gardens and lawns is prohibited in many municipalities from 06.00 to This also applies to washing the car, filling garden tubs and private swimming pools.

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Water should only be used for cooking and for household and hygiene needs. All this should encourage the Italians to limit the consumption and above all the waste of water. Anyone who fails to comply with the new rules faces a fine of at least 25 euros to a maximum of 500 euros. But are these decrees also obeyed? Is there someone monitoring the behavior of the citizens? Or is it just to hope for the citizens’ common sense?

Water Decree

In central Italy, the mayor of Urbino (Umbria), Maurizio Gambini, signed the water decree on 13 August after much deliberation: ‘Before issuing decrees prohibiting the use of water for non-domestic purposes, we must ensure that the controls actually can be carried out. The regulation is serious business: if you limit water consumption in summer, it means that you have a big influence on people’s habits: the flowers in the garden and on the balcony dry out, cars get dirty, swimming pools are only open on limited days. when the days are very hot and more water is needed than in other months.’

campaigns

The municipal police of Urbino is responsible for monitoring the regular implementation of the regulation and is assisted by the staff of the water company. In Campobasso in southern Italy, the city’s police get help from the fire department. In Pesaro, a city on the Adriatic Sea, the municipal police cannot cope with this extra control task: the 100 police officers have to keep an eye on over 94,000 civilians. Therefore, this city has invested in awareness campaigns with slogans to reduce waste: ‘Water is scarce, don’t waste it’, ‘Water is precious!’ and ‘The day will come when this will be the most unattainable drop’.

“There will come a day when this will be the most unattainable drop”

Manual

ANCI, the national association of Italian municipalities, has prepared a handbook in Italian and English that explains simple operations that, multiplied by the millions of users in the area, can make a difference and lead to significant savings.

water addicts

In the north, in the Bergamo valleys, the village of Capizzone (1,200 inhabitants) is hardest hit by the drought. Mayor Alessandro Pellegrini is punishing residents who fill their swimming pools while posing smiling in the pictures they post on social media. He says: ‘A regulation is not just a piece of paper, but a concrete administrative measure. We will ask the water company Uniacque to provide us with data on the residents’ monthly consumption to see who is in violation. Violators will be reported to the legal authorities. And then we don’t have to complain that we have to ration our water supply because of someone’s fault’.

Control elements

Monza is a city of 121,000 inhabitants near Milan, full of parks and villas. Here, the municipality carries out numerous inspections to check whether the water regulations are being complied with. Many checks are carried out by the police in response to telephone or written reports from citizens.

rain barrels

In some cases, watering or irrigating lawns, gardens and vegetable patches did not turn out to be illegal: these residents used special rain barrels or wells that were already active before the current water emergency. “And we have also noticed a lot of good behavior among citizens who are doing all possible things to save water and rationalize its use,” said Chief Commissioner Rossano Venitucci in Monza.

“We have also observed a lot of good behavior among the citizens”

Rossano Venitucci

Looking at neighbors

The most effective form of control is ‘neighborly spying’. So: neighbors keep an eye on each other and call or send reports to the municipal police. It is the fear of being reported that slows down violations. But you keep dishonest people. There are those who openly violate the current regulation. That’s what Maria, who lives in Varese, says [haar achternaam wil ze niet zeggen]: ‘My neighbor has just built and filled a 14 meter swimming pool despite the order. To make sure that we neighbors shut up, he invited us to a housewarming.’

Serious injury

The drought is also making Italians worry about things they have always taken for granted. At the end of August, violent thunderstorms with wind speeds of more than 200 kilometers per hour also ravage the Italian coast, causing extensive damage, injuries and even a number of deaths. These extreme weather events mean that many Italians now understand the importance of the government’s efforts to combat climate change.

Petition

A group of scientists has sent a petition to politicians asking them to put the climate crisis at the top of their election manifesto. Hundreds of thousands of citizens signed the petition. This is an impressive milestone in relation to the number of petitioners and shows that even in a dull August – under a parasol, in the mountains or in the cities – many Italians decided to send a strong signal in light of the upcoming elections on September 25.

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