FILE - People fish near a hydroelectric power plant at Isola Serafini, on the Po river in San Nazzaro, Italy, Wednesday, June 15, 2022. The drying up of the river is jeopardizing drinking water in Italy's densely populated and highly industrialized d

Milan will turn off the taps for the fountains because the drought is burning Italy – ABC News

MILAN – The mayor of Milan signed a decree on Saturday to shut down the openings of public decorative fountains, and the city archbishop prayed for rain while touring churches as northern Italy suffers one of the worst droughts in decades.

The city ordinance follows a declaration of a state of emergency on Friday in the surrounding Lombardy region, which suffered an unusually early heat wave and months without significant rainfall. Neighboring Emilia Romagna and Piedmont have taken similar crisis measures.

Milan Mayor Giuseppe Sala said the ordinance would exclude ornamental fountains other than those that hold flora and fauna that need fresh water. It further restricts the use of water sprinklers, except for newly grown trees.

The mayor also determined that shops in the Italian business and fashion capital cannot install thermostats below 26 degrees Celsius (79 F) and must keep their doors closed to avoid overloading the power grid.

In a Facebook post, Sala called on Milan to do their part and reduce water use at home, in private gardens, and even when cleaning terraces and yards.

Separately, Archbishop Mario Delpini made a pilgrimage on Saturday to pray for the “gift of rain,” visiting three churches that serve agricultural communities on the outskirts of Milan. He recited the rosary and blessed the field in front of the church of St. with holy water. Martina Olearo di Mediglia.

Italy’s drought has dried up key rivers for irrigation, including the Po, threatening about 3 billion euros ($ 3.1 billion) in agriculture, Italian farm lobby Coldiretti said this week. The Italian Confederation of Agricultural Producers, Copagri, estimates a loss of 30-40% of the seasonal harvest.

Although the unusual heat and lack of precipitation are to blame for the current crisis, Italy has a known wastewater infrastructure that the national statistical agency ISTAT estimates loses 42% of its drinking water from distribution networks each year, largely due to old and poorly maintained pipes.

The Italian Civil Protection Agency collects information from the regions and various national ministries to propose a wider state of emergency for the affected regions. Hundreds of cities across the north have already passed various ordinances calling for the responsible use of water to avoid the possibility of rationing.

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Winfield reported from Rome.

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