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17th June 2022

Last modified on June 20th, 2022

Some people in the ski regions of Piedmont and Lombardy have been asked to ration water in the sharpest drought in the area for 70-years. It follows one of the worst winters for snow in recent years. UPDATED

The River Po is seeing some of its lowest levels in a generation.

The river is 400-miles long (650kms) and runs from the north-western Alps and flows through the Po Delta to the Adriatic Sea near Venice.

Northern Italy hasn’t seen rainfall for more than 110 days and last winter’s snowfall was down by 70%.

Half of the population of Italy live in the Po Valley and it is the main agricultural area of the country.

It is known as the ‘Italian food valley’.

Aosta Valley

Agriculture in Italy. Image © PlanetSKI.

The water in the river is so low that in places locals are walking through the middle on expanses of sand and wartime shipwrecks are even resurfacing.

The River Po is fed by melting snow in the Spring but this year there has been precious little.

The water supply has been so low that some towns across the Piedmont and Lombardy regions have needed water to be brought in by tanker trucks.

“The snow in the Alps in Piedmont and Lombardy has totally run out,” said Utilitalia, a federation of water companies.

Utilitalia has asked for the nightly suspension of drinking water supplies in 125 towns.

100 in the Piedmont region and 25 in Bergamo province in Lombardy.

“All the measurement stations along the Po, with the exception of Piacenza, are in severe drought conditions, with flow rates well below the average for the period,” added Utilitalia.

There has been little rainfall recently and the winter saw low levels of snow.

PlanetSKI was based in Aosta from January to March and it barely snowed at all during that time.

Pila, Aosta Valley. Image © PlanetSKI

Pila, Aosta Valley. Image © PlanetSKI

“In terms of snowfall it was one of the worst many locals could remember with no significant snowfall in the six weeks PlanetSKI was based in the Aosta Valley,” said the PlanetSKI editor, James Cove.

“We were all pleased simply to be skiing again after Covid-19 restrictions eased but fresh snow would have been more than welcome.”

It remained an excellent alpine base though:

  • Aosta: Is it the best mountain base in the Alps

Castello di Sarre, Aosta Valley

Castello di Sarre, Aosta Valley. Image © PlanetSKI.

Italy is currently experiencing a protracted heatwave, with temperatures in some areas of the Po Valley at 36C.

The river’s depth currently measures up to 2.7m below the zero gauge which is well  below the average for June.

Us skiers and snowboarders need snow for our winter passion, but the white stuff also has a perhaps more important function for the wider society.