The water situation in Italy. Towards a future emergency?

Home / The water situation in Italy. Towards a future emergency?
situazione idrica in Italia

We have addressed the issue of the water situation in Italy in many respects. Now we make an upgrade to mark World Water Day, celebrated a few days ago. As we well know our beautiful country has many gaps in the water sector.

The first is water waste: in 2019 the data reported that of the 248 liters taken per person per day, only 220 are actually consumed. The second gap concerns the “easy” use of the tap: from a recent study, our country is the first in Europe for consumption of drinking water for civil use, with about 160 cubic meters per inhabitant per year. We also have another sad record: in the old continent we are the leader for the use of bottled water, with about188 liters per capita per year and, even, we are second in the world. A premise that gives a clear overview of the use – and abuse – of water resources in Italy.

The climate crisis

If we broaden our gaze, and move from the Italian to the world situation, there is another factor that affects the water resource: the climate crisis. In these first months of 2020 there was a drop in rainfall of -75% and an increase in temperature of about 1.65 degrees compared to the historical average. An overview that can take on the traits of urgency if not taken into account.

Water emergency: investments needed

Returning to Italy, Utilitalia – the Federation of Water Companies – which a few days ago presented the now customary “manual drought”. The data speak for themselves: the risk we are facing is a future water emergency that needs to be stemmed from the outset through massive intervention.

There is a need to work on several levels: reducing consumption, reducing waste, modernizing infrastructure and promoting reuse. These last two points need to be addressed. The water network in Italy has a strong element of criticality: the “old age”. 25% of water infrastructure is 50 years old and 60% has reached 30. Another emblematic fact is that on the “recycling” of water: every year in Italy only 2% of wastewater is reused. The use of purified water for non-domestic uses must become a main theme: a sustainability plan is needed where purified water is used more decisively; for example in agriculture, a sector that now uses more than 50% of the water.

All necessary interventions amount to an investment plan for Italy of about 7.2 billion (of which 3.9 in the South and islands, 1.9 in the Centre and 1.3 in the North). We need to work quickly to secure networks and cope with an increasingly accelerated climate change. For our part, we need to use the water resource with greater awareness, implementing responsible behaviors and conscious uses, in order to preserve it.