Italy’s energy and environment minister has said the country is preparing to approve a decree allocating 7.8 billion euros ($8.32 billion) to tackle a severe drought that is hitting the country, a newspaper report said on Friday.
According to scientists and environmental groups, the Alps have received less than half of their normal snowfall and there are concerns that Italy could face another drought after the one experienced last summer as it has now seen weeks of winter weather.
A decree to deal with the drought will soon be looked at by cabinet ministers, minister Gilberto Pichetto Fratin told Italian daily La Stampa in an interview.
“We are all committed to defining the actions to be taken with funds already allocated and which, according to an initial estimate, would amount to 7.8 billion euros,” Pichetto Fratin is quoted as saying.
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The Legambiente environmental group said last month that Italian rivers and lakes are suffering from a severe lack of water, adding the Po, Italy’s longest river which runs from the Alps in the northwest to the Adriatic, had 61% less water than normal at that time.
Italy declared a state of emergency in 2022 for areas surrounding the Po which accounts for roughly a third of the country’s agricultural production but suffered its worst drought for 70 years.
Pichetto Fratin said for the coming months, the priority will be “to make a sufficient quantity of water available to meet the demand of Italian households and businesses, especially those in the agricultural sector”.
“There is the need to start long-term planning to improve the efficiency of our water network, which in some areas of the country has a pipeline leakage of over 50%, compared to a national average of 37%. A waste that we can no longer afford”, he added.
Story was adapted from Reuters.