Sea Water Flows Upstream; Italian Crops Threatened

Dry Winter And No Downstream Flow In Po River

3 Jul 2022 by The Water Diplomat
ROME, Italy

Salt water from the Adriatic Sea is making its way upstream through the bed of a parched Po River putting crops at risk.

Following a dry winter, the Po River, Italy’s longest, has dried up and, with no downstream flow, sea waters are making their way upstream.

Due to the water’s salinity, crops are being contaminated and there are fears that, unless there is substantial rain quickly, some might be completely lost.

As much as four kilometres upstream, sea water waves are crashing against anti-salt barriers and making their way through irrigation channels burning the crops.

Giancarlo Mantovani, campaigner and director of the “Reclaiming the Po” group, said: “"If there is no rain in the next 10 or 15 days, the crops that are not yet lost will be gone. At this stage, we are progressively losing the harvest.”

The drought is impacting the Northern region of Italy, an area responsible for one third of the country’s agricultural production.

Massimiliano Fazzini, head of the Climate Risk Department of the Italian Society of Environmental Geology said this year saw a 2.5m snowfall as opposed to the usual 7.5m. As the Po River is mostly fed by the Alps’ melting snow, this is at the heart of this year’s crisis.

The dry winter and a particularly hot early summer has made Italian authorities implement water rationing measures. In Milan, water fountains have been shutdown and the washing of vehicles as well as the watering of private lawns and gardens have been prohibited.

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