Historically low water levels have raised fears of power cuts and poor harvests across Italy, particularly in the fertile north. The concern has now spread from producers to policy makers. A meeting has been held in Rome to assess the impact of a partial shutdown of the electricity grid, while officials are due to decide today whether to declare a state of emergency. “Measures should have been put in place long ago. We should have conserved the water and made better use of it. It’s not that it rains less now, but rather that we are wasting too much,” said hydrologist, Mario Tozzi.
The River Po is the source of irrigation for entire sectors of agriculture, particularly Italy’s staple crops of sugar and rice. Power cuts in 2003, when the last drought hit, plunged most of the country into darkness. It’s suggested that declaring a state of emergency would help avoid bureaucratic obstacles and free up aid for the area.