Drought in Italy: Hydropower plants supply little electricity

Status: 25.06.2022 04:32

In Italy, the protracted drought has significantly reduced hydropower production – and drought is also threatening agriculture. Lombardy has declared a state of emergency and water is being allocated in many municipalities.

From January to May this year, electricity production from hydropower plants in Italy fell by 40 percent compared to the previous year, the water association Utilitalia told AFP. The Coldiretti Agricultural Association said that 30 percent of agricultural production in the country is at risk. Harvesting of barley and maize is affected, and the cultivation of tomatoes and fruits such as melons is at risk.

Hydroelectric power plants are located mainly in the mountains in the north of the country. They usually provide almost a fifth of the electricity needed in Italy. However, production has been declining since last summer, said a spokesman for Utilitalia. This is a particular problem at the moment, as Italy is also trying to significantly reduce gas and oil supplies from Russia.

Drought in the Po Delta

In Piacenza, southeast of Milan, a small hydropower plant had to be shut down completely this week because the Fall carries too little water, according to the energy company Enel. Agriculture also makes extensive use of water in the river. The situation is particularly dramatic for rice growers in the Po Delta, as salty seawater penetrates the river for miles and makes sowing impossible.

Drought in the Po Delta is the worst in 70 years. It hadn’t rained in some places for four months. At the same time there is a lack of melting water from the mountains, the winter was too mild. Lakes like Lake Maggiore are also not crowded enough.

Water is available in many villages

In many communities, water is available, people can only use it for drinking or other necessary purposes, sometimes the water is turned off overnight. Tankers are also on the way. The levels of Lake Maggiore and Lake Garda are significantly lower than usual for this time of year, and the Tiber, which flows through Rome, is also low.

A dispute has arisen over Italy’s largest lake, Lake Garda. It is supposed to drain water, but those responsible on the spot are worried about its supplies, because it could become a sick lake.

State of emergency in Lombardy

Lombardy declared a state of emergency in northern Italy yesterday due to the drought. The county government has asked all consumers to use less water. Municipalities have been instructed to reduce water consumption for insignificant activities, such as cleaning the streets and watering parks and sports grounds. According to the Ansa news agency, water is already being allocated in more than 200 communities in the Piedmont region in northwestern Italy.

Italy’s civil defense fears the drought could last for weeks. Water scarcity is spreading from the northern regions to the south. Calls for a nationwide emergency are getting louder.

With information from Elisabeth Pongratz, ARD studio Rome

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