Rome, City of Ancient Aqueducts, Faces Water Rationing

This week, Italy’s health minister spoke anxiously about the havoc water rationing would wreak on hospitals and the sick. On Thursday, Italy’s minister for the environment appeared in the Senate to express his grave concerns about the draught’s impact on lakes, and suggested authorities should look into cases of water theft.

On June 22, after criticism of her inaction, Ms. Raggi braved the opposition and decided to start a staggering closure of the 2,500 iconic “nasone” — or big nose — drinking fountains throughout the city. As of Wednesday, she had closed 200 of them, according to the water utility.

The city is also fighting a deadline from the Latium region, to which Rome belongs, to stop draining fresh water from nearby Lake Bracciano. The lake provides 8 percent of Rome’s water and has sunk about 1.5 meters, or nearly five feet.

Wednesday morning, technicians measured the water level in Anguillara Sabazia, a small town bordering the lake. Working under a ruined monument dedicated in the 18th century by Pius XI, the surveyors determined the lake had risen about a centimeter after a Tuesday night rainstorm.

One surveyor shrugged and said the change did not matter, and motioned to the banks around him, where a rowboat was beached on newly exposed earth. “It’s dry,” he said.

Nearby, on a pier, Mauro Noro, 42, cast out his fishing line and said the water was as low as he had ever seen it. “They shouldn’t send anymore water from here to Rome,” he said.

But without Lake Bracciano to help quench the city’s thirst, Ms. Raggi, and the water utility, are at a loss.

This spring was the second-hottest in the last 60 years, and the driest, with only 26 days of rain compared with 88 in 2016. A recent report by Legambiente, an Italian environmental organization, said that rain had declined 80 to 85 percent in Latium compared with last year.


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