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Rome, City of Ancient Aqueducts, Faces Water Rationing

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ROME — Rome’s cold, clean water has flowed through ancient aqueducts, gurgled in baroque fountains and poured incessantly from thousands of the 19th-century spouts that still grace the city streets. For millenniums, water has symbolized Rome’s dominion over nature, its engineering prowess and deep, seemingly inexhaustible spring of good fortune.

“It’s a sign of abundance, but also it’s a sign of power,” said Guido Giordano, a geologist who specializes in water at University Roma Tre. “Since the foundational myth of Romulus and Remus coming from the river, water is inherent to the foundation of Rome.”

And now it is indicative of its latest fall.

A severe drought and sweltering temperatures have led city officials to consider rationing drinking water for eight hours a day for a million and a half Rome residents.

The water crisis has become yet another sign of man being at the mercy of an increasingly extreme climate, but also of once-mighty Rome’s political impotence, managerial ineptitude and overall decline.

Rome’s embattled mayor, Virginia Raggi, has vowed to prevent the rationing, even as smaller towns have already resorted to closing some taps. Ms. Raggi, whose administration has been widely criticized as ineffective, seems aware that depriving Romans of their drinking water could potentially sink her.

Since May, the city-controlled water utility, Acea, has rushed to repair 2,000 of its 7,000 kilometers of water pipes, recovering a hundred liters of water per second.

Even as the Acea website boasts “Roma, Regina Aquarum” (Rome, Queen of the Waters), its system has become so decrepit that about 44 percent of the water is stolen, spills out underground or pools onto the street.

The city has lowered water pressure to aid conservation, forcing residents of top-floor apartments to lug buckets up to their bathrooms and kitchens. “Faucets at risk. A run on bottled water,” news programs have blared.

Read more: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/27/world/europe/rome-water-shortage.html

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