Italians use on average 213 litres of water every day, according to a report published by the Italian department of civil protection. This is the highest and most-wasteful domestic consumption in Europe, probably because water costs less in Italy than in any other European Union country.

Personal hygiene accounts for 39 per cent of consumption, 12 per cent is used for washing dishes, 20 per cent is used for flushing the WC, 12 per cent in washing machines and 16 per cent for household cleaning, washing fruit and vegetables and watering plants. Only one per cent of the water used is for cooking and drinking.

New EU directives for treating and purifying tap water will soon make water in Italy more expensive. Therefore Italians are being encouraged to economise by taking a shower not a bath, reducing the quantity of water used in the WC cistern, using washing machines and dishwaters only when they are full and by washing up once a day, not after every meal.