Drought Ruins Crops, Shuts Off Milan’s Fountains



The mayor of Milan signed an ordinance Saturday turning off the spigots of public decorative fountains, and the city’s archbishop prayed for rain in a tour of churches as northern Italy endures one of its worst droughts in decades. The city ordinance follows the declaration Friday of a state of emergency in the surrounding Lombardy region, which has endured an unusually early heat wave and months without significant rainfall, the AP reports. Neighboring Emilia Romagna and Piedmont have undertaken similar crisis measures.

Milan Mayor Giuseppe Sala said the ordinance would turn off decorative fountains except those holding flora and fauna that need fresh water. It further limits use of water sprinklers except for new-growth trees. The mayor also decreed that shops in Italy’s business and fashion capital can’t set thermostats under 79F and must keep their doors closed to avoid overtaxing the power grid. In a Facebook post, Sala invited Milanese to do their part and reduce water use as much as possible at home, in private gardens, and even when cleaning terraces and courtyards.

Archbishop Mario Delpini made a pilgrimage Saturday to pray for “the gift of rain,” visiting three churches that serve the farming communities on the outskirts of Milan. He recited the rosary and used holy water to bless a field in front of the St. Martin Olearo di Mediglia church. Italy’s drought has dried up rivers crucial for irrigation, including the Po, threatening some $3.1 billion in agriculture, Italian farm lobby Coldiretti said this week. Italy’s confederation of agricultural producers, Copagri, estimates the loss of 30% to 40% of the seasonal harvest.

(Read more drought stories.)

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