Drought in the south, water bombs in the north; this crazy weather is costing us billions of euros

Italy is split in two at the moment. Red alert for drought in the Center South and lakes and rivers above average in the North. The first to suffer the damage is agriculture. An example? In Puglia 50% of the oil is compromised.

We have a problem: in our country, a loss of over 51% of renewable water resources has been recorded, compared to the historical average since 1950. We are desertifying ourselves and there are regions with agriculture on its knees and livestock at risk of dying of hunger and thirst. The great drought involves over 50% of Sicily, Puglia and Basilicata. And critical issues are added in the coastal areas of Calabria and Sardinia and in some of the Apennine ridge and the Adriatic coast.

Sicily is the most affected region. Data from the Water Resources Observatory of the National Association of Consortia for the Management and Protection of the Territory and Irrigation Waters report that on May 27, the water available in the basins was just over half. And since then it has never rained. It is easy to imagine the situation today. Puglia and Basilicata are at the same level of availability of water to use, that is, around or below 50%. In Tuscany, Marche, Umbria and Lazio, the rivers and lakes are well below the average for the period: the Arno is at -35% compared to last year and the Tiber is at just over 55% of the average flow for the period.

And what about the North? The Po is full, the flow is above average along the entire route, maintaining a flow that is 45% higher than the average for the period. In Liguria the reserves are at their maximum, in Lombardy according to the ANBI Observatory on water resources all the lakes (except Como) are above the seasonal averages. Lake Maggiore is even at the limit of its capacity. Lombardy’s water reserves are over 38% higher than usual. In Veneto the rivers are full above average: the Adige +88% and the Brenta +53%.

In the Center-South, however, the damage is starting to be calculated and forecasted. According to Coldiretti’s estimates, the lack of water has already destroyed 33,000 jobs in the Sicilian and Apulian fields this year. In Basilicata, the 2024 wheat crop has halved. The damage to cereal crops, starting with wheat, reaches up to 90% in the Potenza area. Coldiretti reports that many farmers have decided not to even thresh, so as not to have unnecessary additional costs. In Puglia, 50% of the oil and 70% of the wheat are compromised. In Sicily, where there are areas that have not seen rain for a year, a cut in yields of between 70 and 90% is expected. And obviously, the citrus and olive oil production of the coming months is at risk.

Livestock farms are also suffering: there is no food for the animals. The Region of Sicily has allocated 10 million euros to deal with the lack of food for livestock. But it is a stopgap measure. In the meantime, the drought is not letting up and today’s damage risks becoming an Italian economic “emergency”, soon.