Italy, which accounts for almost a third of the nation's agricultural output and is experiencing its worst drought in 70 years, on Monday (4 July) announced a state of emergency for districts near the river Po.
The government decree will enable officials to bypass bureaucracy and take rapid action if they deem it necessary, such as imposing water rationing for residences and commercial establishments.
According to a government statement that also announced a 36.5 million euro ($39.5 million) fund to aid people impacted, the cabinet adopted a state of emergency in five regions-Friuli-Romagna, Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Lombardy, Piedmont, and Veneto-until December 31.
Italy is experiencing an early heatwave and a drought that is worse than it has been in 70 years, especially in the northern agricultural Po Valley.
The Po, which flows for more than 650 kilometers through Italy's affluent north, is the country's longest river. The channel has, however, dried up in several places, and farmers claim that the flow is so feeble that seawater is seeping inland and killing crops.
The emergency measures, according to a statement from the government, would apply to areas bordering the Po River and the eastern Alps' watersheds.
The government stated that the purpose of the emergency declaration was to "manage the current situation with extraordinary means and powers, with relief and assistance to the affected population."
It went on to state that other actions might be taken in the future to address the drought, which water authorities said is progressively affecting central Italy as a result of an exceptionally dry winter and spring and an early summer that was unusually hot.
Lower than usual water levels for this time of year also affected the Lakes Maggiore and Garda, and further south the Tiber River, which flows through Rome, also decreased.
The Po is the greatest water reservoir on the peninsula, and farmers utilize a lot of it.
Several towns have announced limitations recently. While Verona, a city of 25,000 people, has restricted the use of drinking water, Milan has announced the closure of its decorative fountains.
Nearly 20% of the nation's energy production is generated by hydroelectric plants, the majority of which are located in the hilly north of the country.
The revelation comes a day after a glacier falls in the Italian Alps claiming at least seven lives and was "without a doubt" related to global warming, according to Prime Minister Mario Draghi.