Sunday, July 30, 2017

The end of tapwater

Trevi Fountain photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Italy has neglected infrastructure so badly that Rome, their capital city, will begin rolling water shutoffs
.
One-third of the city’s residents are set to have their water supply cut off for eight hours every day, possibly beginning as early as Friday; different neighborhoods will take turns in sharing the burden. It’s an unprecedented move for a major Italian city, said Giampaolo Attanasio, a public infrastructure expert at the advisory firm Ernst & Young. But it may soon be routine.

"Rome could be just the beginning. If the situation doesn’t improve, other large cities will have to ration water as well," Attanasio said in a telephone interview. "Small towns already have."
The math is damning.
as much as one-fourth of water pipes in Italy are more than 50 years old, and that it will take 250 years to replace the whole system at current rates.
This means that the pace of water pipe replacement has slowed in recent years. Otherwise, the % of older pipes would be higher.

Moreover, they lose 44% of their water through leaks in the pipes!

Climate change compounds the problem.  With higher temperatures come higher evaporation rates.  This means less water will flow from the mountains to the cities below, even if rainfall stays the same.

Rainfall patterns do not remain the same with climate change.  Storm tracks change with the weather, but the climactic average of storm tracks vary much less.  Those average storm tracks are being disrupted around the globe as the jet stream becomes more wavy.

In Spring 2017, Italy received 50% of the rainfall that they received over the 1971-2000 reference period.  At the same time, it was the second hottest Spring since 1800--1.9 C warmer than the 1971-2000 average.

Austerity measures compounded the body blow dealt by climate change and normal variation.

Lack of public funds meant reliance on so-called 'public-private partnerships' with for profit companies who cut maintenance to increase profits.

There is no time to lose.  The longer we wait to slow global warming, the worse these problems will become.

We should be spending more on infrastructure to build for climate resilience rather than less.

Will it be expensive?  Yes.

But the alternative, doing nothing, is even more expensive.

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