February 21, 2023 | 13:23
Venice tourists may have to shelve their plans for romantic gondola rides – as the famous water city is in a dry spell.
The iconic rowing boats have been stranded after a winter of little rain and snow resulted in unusually low water levels in the canal-filled northeastern city.
Concerns have also grown that Italy could be hit by another drought after last summer’s emergency, according to the newspaper, which cited scientists and environmental groups.
In addition to the lack of rainfall, dry conditions in Venice are blamed on a high pressure system, full moon, low tide and unfavorable ocean currents.
Gondolas and water buses known as vaporettos have been left high and dry as a result.
Video entered by the local team shows boats stranded on dried-up canals in the city where flooding is normally the main problem.
On Monday, the Legambiente environmental group said rivers across Italy have been affected by a severe shortage of water – including the Po, the country’s longest, which has 61% less water than normal for this time of year, Reuters reported.
“We are in a water deficit situation that has been building up since the winter of 2020-2021,” climate expert Massimiliano Pasqui of the Italian National Research Council told Corriere della Sera daily.
“We need to recover 500 mm (20 inches) in the northwestern regions. We need 50 days of rain,” he told the news agency.
In northern Italy, water levels have also fallen to record low levels, making it possible to reach the small island of San Biagio on the lake via an exposed path.
“Nothing has changed since 2022,” Luca Mercalli, president of the Italian Meteorological Association, told the Guardian.
“We are still in a deficit situation … let’s wait until spring, which is usually the most rainy period for the Po Valley. There is a good possibility that rainfall in April and May can compensate – that is the last hope, he said.
“If we don’t have any spring rain for two years in a row, then it will be the first time this has happened,” Mercalli added.
Alessandro Bratti, president of the Po Basin Authority, said the situation was most serious in Piedmont and Lombardy, while in Trentino it affected the production of hydropower.
“If you don’t have water, you can’t produce energy, so this is another problem,” Bratti told the Guardian. “It is very critical because it has not snowed or rained during this period and the forecast says it will remain so.”