Rome averts water rationing

Raggi celebrates as central government averts water crisis.

Rome mayor Virginia Raggi has welcomed the intervention of Italy's central government in brokering a deal to avert water rationing being introduced in the drought-hit capital from 31 July.

The last-minute intervention of Italian environment minister Gian Luca Galletti on 28 July saw the Lazio regional administration back down on an order banning Rome from withdrawing water from the much-depleted Lake Bracciano, an important source of potable water for the capital.

Under the agreement reached between the Lazio Region and Rome's water authority ACEA, the city will continue to receive water from Bracciano albeit at progessively reduced quantities until 1 September when it will be phased out completely.

While Raggi hailed the deal as "good news for everyone!", the Lazio Region president Nicola Zingaretti said the mayor had avoided taking responsibility, adding: "with an attitude like that, Rome is likely to die."

The original order to stop pumping water from Bracciano was given by Zingaretti, of the centre-left Partito Democratico (PD), and was due to take effect at midnight on 28 July, to avoid an “environmental catastrophe”. 

Raggi, of the anti-establishment Movimento 5 Stelle, has taken credit for the fact that 1.5 million residents of the capital have avoided the prospect of water rationing, for up to eight hours a day in rotating districts.

Through the city, Raggi is major shareholder in ACEA whose president Paolo Saccani was put under a police investigation on 27 July into possible environmental offences relating to water withdrawls from Lake Bracciano.