Water Rights, Italian government
|May 25, 2004||Posted by Staff under Progress Report, The Progress Report|
No Region is Exempt from Reliance on Natural Resources
Water Crisis Hits Italy
Water shortages and crises, once rare events affecting just the poorest regions on our planet, are now disrupting even highly developed countries such as Italy and Canada.
Natural resources are important. Foolish or unjust government policies will ruin people’s lives.
Here are some excerpts from a recent Associated Press article on this subject.
by Frances d’Emilio
The Italian government promised to do “something” about a water shortage after weeks of protests by southern farmers with shriveled crops and Sicilian housewives sick of unwashed dishes.
While weeks of dry skies haven’t helped, authorities say the shortage is largely caused by an aged, leaky water distribution system.
Nearly every day for two months, Sicilian farmers have blocked roads or town squares on the dry Mediterranean island with tractors and cows. Palermo residents have held protests, sometimes clashing with police, after their faucets ran dry for days.
The government has poured billions of dollars into the southern region over the last few decades, with much of the money earmarked to improve water pipelines or reservoirs. But little improvement in the system can be seen.
Experts blame corruption, mismanagement and Mafia infiltration of public works contracts for the failure to give the south a reliable supply of water.
Many of Italy’s water pipelines date from the 1920s and they “are leaking all over the place,” a top Civil Defense official, Bernardo De Bernadinis, told the Corriere della Sera newspaper.
With temperatures in southern Italy in the mid 90s nearly every day for weeks, tempers have flared on farms, ranches and in homes.
The Interior Ministry, which controls state police services, said that police chiefs have been ordered to be on guard for disorders or illegal acts linked to the shortage.
In the southern city of Reggio Calabria, authorities said eight people were arrested Saturday for water theft, including some who illegally hooked up to the municipal aqueduct.
Harvests of shriveled grain, asparagus and other crops in places like Sardinia have ended up on garbage piles instead of in markets.
In Palermo, residents keep tanks of water on their balconies so they can bathe, wash dishes and cook pasta when taps run dry, which are most days lately.
Recently, the water shortage has hit closer to Rome and its politicians.
In Perugia, a town in the north central hill country of Umbria, where many foreigners have villas, municipal water will be turned off one night in a conservation measure.
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