A prolonged heatwave in Italy has forced authorities to stop pumping water from a lake near Rome due a “dramatic” fall in the water level. The decision to halt pumping from Lake Bracciano, which is one of the Rome’s main sources of water, has raised fears that if the heatwave continues the city could see water rationing put in place.
Italy has been in the grip of a drought that has seen rainfall levels far below seasonal averages.
In the first six months of the year there were only 26 rainy days compared to 88 during the same period last year. Earlier this month Rome’s famous drinking fountains were turned off in an effort to conserve water. The dry conditions have sparked hundreds of wildfires and caused billions in damage to the agriculture industry as the country’s iconic vineyards and olive groves wither in the plus-forty degree heat.
Hundreds of tourists had to be evacuated from Calampiso near the Sicilian capital Palermo earlier this month as fires threatened the resort. Another fire, thought to be the work of arsonists, blazed on the slopes of Mount Vesuvius overlooking Naples.
Italy’s Mediterranean neighbours are also suffering from extreme temperatures and lack of rain. Authorities in Greece have ordered the closure of archaeological sites during the hottest hours of the day in order to minimise the risk posed to visiting tourists. In the south of Spain temperatures have regularly soared into the mid-forties or higher wiping out cereal crops.
Climate scientists have warned that 2017 is on track to beat last year as the hottest on record and have pointed to recent heatwaves as evidence of climate change in action.