The Stream, June 29, 2022: Milan Officials Turn Off Public Fountains, Plead Residents to Reduce Water Use

Milan, Italy. Photo © Marivaldo Vovan / Unsplash


  • A dry riverbed in Mexico is coming back to life due to an agreement between Mexican and U.S. governments. 
  • Millions of children in Bangladesh are at risk as the country battles its worst flooding in a century. 
  • Cholera outbreaks are a top concern for aid organizations in Afghanistan where a devastating earthquake struck last week.
  • Recent research discovers new ways to create flood-resistant crop varieties for farmers globally.

Italy’s worst drought in decades reaches the country’s fashion hub.

“We must take action and believe it is right to do our part.”

– Beppe Sala, the mayor of Milan.

Amid one of Italy’s worst droughts in decades, officials in Milan have issued orders to turn off public fountains and have warned citizens that daytime water rationing may be on the way. The Guardian reports that residents have been urged to voluntarily reduce water use, and the chief of Italy’s civil protection department said water rationing may become mandatory as the government continues to adopt anti-drought measures. Some northern towns along the Po River are already under orders to restrict water use at night, while others have become dependent on water supplies driven in by truck. 

— Jane Johnston, Stream Editor

In Recent WaterNews

What’s Up With Water—June 28, 2022 — This week’s episode of What’s Up With Water covers water shortages in Mexico and Italy. Plus, Circle of Blue reports on the U.S. government’s response to forever chemicals in drinking water. 

Colorado River Delta in Mexico Receives Water After Decades of Diversions to Farmers and Western Cities

After decades of diverting water to supply farms and cities within the Colorado River Basin, the river’s delta estuary in Mexico was nothing more than a dry riverbed. Thanks to a recent agreement between the Mexican and U.S. governments, water is being released into parts of the delta again. Six environmental groups, which form a coalition called Raise the River, are supporting the project and say it is vital to reviving the region’s ecosystems. Last year, when the project began, environmentalists say they began noticing vegetation and wildlife popping up across the once-deserted landscape almost immediately. 

More Drought News: 

  • The Nevada Supreme Court ruled last week that in times of water shortages, water users can deviate from the standar “priority doctrine,” which gives the most water rights to water users who’ve owned their land the longest. The decision could have wider implications for western water use. 
  • Arizona lawmakers approved more than $1 billion to address ongoing water scarcity.  
  • New modeling tools could help scientists predict rainfall and the severity of wildfires up to a year in advance. 

This Week’s Top Water Stories, Told In Numbers


The U.N. Children’s Fund warned that 3.5 million children are at risk and need immediate assistance amid severe flooding in Bangladesh. Officials say the floods, brought on by monsoon rains that research suggests are more severe due to climate change, are the country’s worst in a century. UNICEF Representative to Bangladesh Sheldon Yett said water borne illnesses and connecting stranded residents with food and water are top concerns. UNICEF is asking for more than $2.5 million in emergency response funds to tackle the disaster. 

10,000 HOMES 

An earthquake that struck eastern Afghanistan has injured 2,000 people and destroyed 10,000 homes. Another 1,000 people have reportedly died due to the disaster. The U.N. humanitarian office warned that cholera outbreaks are an immediate concern, as well as providing food and water to those who survived. Taliban officials, who regained control of the country last year, are asking international leaders to roll back sanctions and lift a freeze on billions of dollars in assets to aid with relief. 

On the Radar

Scientists discovered that treating crops with the plant compound ethylene can make them more flood-resistant. The research aims to discover new solutions to climate-induced heavy rains that continuously decimate farms around the world. Still, experts say farmers – even those in flood-prone areas – may not be interested in flood-resistant crop varieties, which tend to produce lower yields. 

More Water News

Art and Climate: One artist in Ethiopia is using her work to spotlight water poverty throughout the country. 

War in Ukraine: Environmental damage in Ukraine could remain years after Russia’s war against the country is over.

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