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Po Valley dries up: “The land is a desert”

Climate change: “Earth is a desert”: one of the most fertile regions in Europe is drying up

Historic drought: the Po region in northern Italy is experiencing climate change. The damage is really big. Now the first demands are that of pumping Lake Garda.

Suddenly a German tank appeared in the riverbed. Residents of the northern Italian town of Ceramide were astonished when they saw strange bits of metal emerging from the Po Basin at the end of March. For decades, amateur historians have been searching the area for the Nazi tank that Wehrmacht soldiers threw into the river in April 1945 to prevent it from falling into the hands of advancing American forces. in vain. But the historical drought in Italy’s Po Valley isn’t just shedding light on things long thought lost. For Italy, it turns out to be a complete disaster.

The largest river in Italy is now just a small drop. The 652-kilometre Po, which flows eastward from the Italian Alps to the Adriatic Sea, is at an all-time low. An average of only 300 cubic meters per second is currently flowing through the Po River, Miuccio Berselli, director of the local river authority, said at a press conference on Wednesday. Normal is 1,800 cubic meters per second – six times that. “The situation is getting worse,” Persili told ANSA news agency. “In some areas it hasn’t rained for 110 days.” In addition, no melt water currently flows from the Alps into the Po River. Unusually warm temperatures resulted in less snow than usual at the start of the year.

“Climate change is visible here for everyone”

The Po Valley in northern Italy is the country’s most important economic region – and one of the most fertile in Europe. But now farmers cannot irrigate their fields. The Confagicultura assumes that 30-40% of the crop has been destroyed, and that the cattle are likely to be slaughtered. Experts estimate that the damage has already amounted to more than two billion euros. “Climate change is visible here to everyone,” regional association leader Ercol Zuccaro said in a statement. “Long droughts alternate with severe weather.”

In the Po Valley, among others, rice, wineHazelnuts, sunflowers, grapes, animal feed and cereals are grown. Associations warn that drought is spreading everywhere Europe It can affect food prices. Alberto Sirio, head of the stricken Piedmont region, told SkyTG24 TV that the lack of water at the moment was a “disaster”. because of Russian Since the invasion of Ukraine, fertilizer prices have tripled, along with an increase in the cost of diesel and gasoline.

sea ​​water problem

Perhaps the worst is yet to come. The level of Po is now lower than the level of the Adriatic. The result: salt water flows from the sea to the river bed and penetrates into adjacent soil, especially fertile soil. Giancarlo Montovani, director of the Po Delta Conservation Consortium, explained at the press conference that nothing grows within a radius of 200 meters downstream in the affected areas. “The Earth is a desert,” said Montovani. “Cultivation cannot last as long as this.” The salt water has already penetrated more than ten kilometers into the Po Valley.

Municipalities, and therefore private homes, are also running out of water. According to Italian media, water tanks in a total of 125 communities are so empty that water tanks from other regions have to provide supplies. Mayors are already issuing ordinances calling for the water not to be used to water flowers or wash cars. “It may not be enough if the season continues like this,” Andrea Sercer, mayor of San Dona di Piave, told La Repubblica.

Dispute over Lake Garda

The massive drought also affects the energy supply. Italy gets 15 percent of its electricity from hydroelectric power, and most of the country’s dams are located in the Alps and the Po region. However, the reservoirs are half full for the past year – and after public pressure, operators have begun releasing some water into the Po Valley. However, this may lead to supply gaps throughout the year. Especially large industrial companies such as car manufacturers Fiat Worry not only about the water supply, but also about the electricity supply.

The first distribution battles have already begun. in the surrounding area Lake Garda Recently, a request from regional politicians and heads of authorities from the Po Valley sparked outrage: the water should be withdrawn from the lake, popular with German tourists, and fed into the Po River via the Minceau River, according to the request.

“We reject the proposal,” Pierlucio Serissa, general secretary of the Federation of Lake Garda Municipalities, told Italian media. Pumping water from Lake Garda is not enough to help the Po Valley, but it will have devastating effects on the lake. Berselli, River Manager, responded: It is time for the upstream regions to “help mitigate problems downstream.”

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