Milan 27.07.2022

Italy: drought and water shortages. Race against time

Summer 2022, after a winter with 70% less snowfall and a rainfall deficit of 32%, temperatures 0.76 degrees above average and a 45% drop in precipitation, has raised the alarm of drought in Italy. This emergency does not just involve agriculture, but also health, hygiene, and wellness at everyday levels.

To these natural phenomena we can add the difficulty in storing rainwater, which totals about 11%, and other water leaks which, based on an ISTAT 2020 report, are approximately 36.2%.

Prompt interventions are urgently needed and the opportunity for this is offered by the Recovery and Resilience Plan (PNRR), with a planned investment in water of 1-2% of its 200 billion euros by 2026.

The use of Artificial Intelligence to manage and plan water supply systems would reduce leaks by 10 to 30%, helping to prevent and reduce the effects of drought.

Another worrying figure is the rate of water evaporation from canals. Italy has 57,000 km of canals and covering them with solar panels would lead to significant water savings, as well as producing energy.

Many countries are investing in desalination and water recycling. One such example comes from the excellent results achieved in Israel, as well as in the design of “sponge cities”, which are able to absorb and store water for emergencies. It is our hope that it will be possible to apply and manage regulations on invariance of water stress in our country also. 

Italy is facing a new, but increasingly urgent challenge!

The solutions – many – are out there, but we need responsibility and commitment to achieve them.

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Maria Elisabetta Ripamonti


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