On July 28, 2017, carried an article that caught many Americans off guard. While several of us have been focused on the soap opera in Washington, Italian government leaders have been dealing with a much more severe issue: water, or lack thereof. They announced on July 28 that two-thirds of the citizens in Rome are set to have their water reduced to just eight hours a day, effective immediately.
What is planned, at least right now, is a rolling blackout of water. While the water is being piped into one area of the city, it will be turned off in another. The goal is that each district involved will share the burden, but water will still be available somewhere nearby to deal with personal or city emergencies.
"Rome could be just the beginning," said Giampaolo Attanasio, a public infrastructure expert at the advisory firm Ernst & Young. "If the situation doesn’t improve, other large cities [around the world] will have to ration water as well. Small towns already have."
While a great deal of Rome's water is wasted as a result of ancient water infrastructure that, as one observer pointed out, leaks like a sieve, what most experts are pointing to as the main culprit is climate change. In 2017, Italy experienced the second-hottest Spring in more than 200 years. Further, Spring rainfall was only half the amount typically received.
At Lake Bracciano, where Rome gets most of its water, the lake is drying up at the rate of about half an inch per day. This means that each month, the water level goes down 15 inches.
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