Italy's Severe Drought Restricts Water Usage, 42% Lost Due to Leaks

published: 2022-08-02 9:30 | editor: | category: News

Extreme weather has plunged the whole of southern Europe into heat waves, droughts, and wildfires. Many areas in Italy are facing water depletion and agriculture must limit water use. At a time when water resources are precious, a large amount of water is actually lost to leaking pipelines at all levels. Italy's pipeline leakage rate is as high as 42%, compared with only 3% in Israel, which is famous for its water conservation.

The Latina province on the coast near Rome has the second worst water leakage in the country, with up to 70% of drinking water leaking. The Latina Water Company said that some of the water was illegally stolen and some users refused to check their water meter but after deducting this part, 50-60% of water is still leaking from the pipeline. The main reason is that the water lines are very old, many of which were built 50 years ago. The Latina Water Company repairs its 3,500-kilometer-long pipeline 10,000 times every year, plugging the leaks that cause water pressure to drop. However, once the leaks are plugged and water pressure is increased, other parts of the pipeline will burst when water pressure is applied, falling into a vicious circle.

In the EU post-pandemic economic recovery project, the Italian government allocated a budget of 4.4 billion euros to improve water management, 900 million euros to repair water leaks, and 880 million euros to upgrade agricultural irrigation systems.

In addition to the serious problem of pipeline leakage in Italy, another fundamental geographical factor is that many rivers are short and fast, and water from these rivers quickly enters the sea after rain. The Italian government estimates, as long as a quarter of annual rainfall can be intercepted, it will be sufficient for the annual water demand. Therefore, Italy plans to build dozens of reservoirs with EU funds.

In terms of repairing water leaks, Latina Water Company also applied for a budget of 40 million euros, but compared to the total demand, it is a drop in the bucket, because to completely update all pipelines, a budget of 1 billion euros is required and about 300 million euros have been invested in repairs in the past 20 years.

The capital of the Italian water companies mainly come from water fees. The water fee in Italy is 2 euros per cubic meter. Although it is far more expensive than Taiwan, it is already a European country with lower water fees compared with 4 euros in France and 9.32 euros in Denmark. One of the countries with the most water, Italy uses 250 liters of water per person per day, France is at 150 liters, and Denmark is only at 105 liters.

The result of cheap water bills is not only people wasting more water, but also an insufficient long-term pipeline maintenance budget and water companies accumulating a serious water leakage problem. When there is no water during drought and more than 40% of the water supply in the country is lost, updating pipelines at this time is too late.

(Image:Acqualatina SpA)

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