In a context in which water is becoming more and more a precious commodity, the recent rains that have fallen “patchy” on part of the Peninsula have not solved the problems of Italian water bodies. Data from the EDO – European Drought Observatory – tell us that 45% of Europe is suffering from water and as many as 13% of the continent is affected by extreme drought. In this scenario, it is important to do our part to conserve water and use it responsibly.
A critical situation
As he explains Francesco Vincenzi, President of the National Association of Consortia for the Management and Protection of the Territory and Irrigation Waters (ANBI), the water critical situation in our country cannot be solved overnight. It will take favorable weather conditions, but above all an infrastructured territory to collect every contribution of rain. Unfortunately, it seems that the experience of more recent years, characterized by the extremeization of atmospheric events, has taught very little.
Valle d’Aosta is no longer a happy island
Week after week, the report of the ANBI Observatory on Water Resources erases climate certainties: this week it is the turn of the verdant Valle d’Aosta, where the long-term (12 months) SPI (Standard Precipitation Index) indicates levels of extreme drought for the whole central-southern strip of the region (source: Regional Functional Center), bringing the mind back to the medieval period, when olive trees grew in those territories. Recent rains have brought the monthly average in July to 25 millimeters, that is about 30% of the historical one. The rainfall recorded so far in 2022 is close to unprecedented negative performances, but the high temperatures, favoring the melting of even the perennial snows, have the paradoxical consequence of one of the most favorable seasons for the Dora Baltea.. In July, the average temperature was 3 degrees above normal, even reaching 40 degrees in the towns of Saint Marcel and Saint Christophe.
The Aosta Valley Alps are a testimony of the ongoing climate changes: with the equatorial belt rising, drought also affects these mountainous areas, making the landscapes less colorful and lively. Water is essential to keep the territory in good condition, both for the vegetation and for the animals. Gargano invites everyone to do their part to protect this natural heritage.
The state of health of the Po
Speaking of records, the average flow of the Po river at Pontelagoscuro (last reading before the delta) was, in July, equal to 160.48 cubic meters per second, that is 32.29% less than the previous negative record of average monthly flow, recorded in July 2006; not only: this year the new record of minimum flow has been reached with only 104.3 cubic meters per second (24 July).
The Po river, corroborated by localized thunderstorms, recorded slight increases in flow, but the most recent surveys show how ephemeral are the benefits that the rains have brought (in Piedmont about 30 mm of rain fell in 7 days, in Ferrara less than 17 mm in a month).
The situation in Northern Italy
In Piedmont there is only the increase of over 27 cubic meters per second in the flow of the Tanaro river, almost zeroed a few weeks ago, as well as the Sesia. The dams of the Baraggia Biellese and Vercellese (Ingagna, Ostola and Ravasanella) are holding back just 4.83 million cubic meters of water, that is almost 50% of the volumes recorded in the dry July 2017 and about 60% less than the average for the period.
In Lombardy, the flow of the Adda river seems to stabilize below, which, compared to 2021, is missing well mc. / sec 427, that is almost 80% of the flows; in line with this data, the water retained today in the basins of the region marks -66% compared to the norm and -67% compared to last year.
According to ARPAV data, in Veneto, the strata are practically dry: almost everywhere the underground levels are the lowest in the recent 20 years. The rains that fell in July were 41% less than the historical average, but in some basins the deficit exceeded 60% (Sile: -69%). Recent rains have temporarily benefited the bloodless waterways, which however remain at their lowest levels in recent years. The Corlo basin on the Brenta river records the minimum filling after those of 2000, 2003 and 2006.
The hydrological situation in the central regions worsenswhich have not benefited (or only in a modest way) from the rainfalls, which have touched territories of Northern Italy.
In Tuscany, the Greve and Bisenzio rivers are almost dry, the Arno just exceeds 5 cubic meters per second, the Serchio i mc. / sec. 3, while the Ombrone has had a flow rate of less than one cubic meter per second for a month.
Even the Marches, which had suffered less during the winter and spring, today record data even worse than the drought years 2021 and 2017; emblematic is the case of the Sentino river, whose level is 10 centimeters lower than the lows recorded in 2018 and last year.
The water crisis ofUmbria is well represented by Lake Maroggia, which today holds only 1/3 of the volumes which generally keeps in this season.
In the Lazio lakes drop by another 3 centimeters, as does the Tiber river, whose level drops by a further half a meter in just 7 days; the flow rates of the Aniene are up to 50% below average, while the Sacco has continued to decline for several weeks.
In Campania, the hydrometric levels of the rivers give diversified information: the Volturno is falling again, the Garigliano is increasing, while the Sarno is stable; volumes in the Cilento and Lake Conza basins also decreased significantly. The drought conditions in the Liri-Garigliano and Volturno catchment area and in the lower Sele valley thus remain stable..
Finally, the water availability in the reservoirs of Basilicata and Puglia fell, in one week, respectively by 14.50 and 8.58 million cubic meters; this increases the Lucan deficit compared to last year to 45.3 million cubic meters, while a positive difference remains in the neighboring region of Puglia, reaching 11 million cubic meters in 2021.