The memory of the water crisis of 2017 in my town of Gaeta (Lazio – Italy) between inefficiencies and disservices.  

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The UN resolution of July 28, 2010 declared the right to water “a universal and fundamental human right”. Having water gives dignity to people, makes them exist, determines their survival, that is, makes them be. The two verbs, having and being, when it comes to fundamental human rights, coincide.

Yet in millions of years man has learned little and, as in a cycle, he is coming back. In fact there is an impoverishment and a hoarding of the resource. Lack of water continues to cause wars and millions of people die every year from diseases transmitted by water. In Italy and in rich countries water continues to be wasted. Even in our areas.

I bring a concrete example of recent drought events in my area of ​​the South Pontino (Lazio, Italy)

The water crisis of the summer 2017 in Pontina land (hinterland of Gaeta) will be remembered, as well as for the hardships and exasperation of the population, for the unveiling of the great bluff of the company Acqualatina, proved unable to prevent widely predictable emergency situations, and for the expenditure of private (and public) resources derived from it.

But was the 2017 crisis predictable? It does not matter if the water crisis was predictable or not, even if the signs were all there. If Acqualatina had made the promised investments in time and had lowered the physical losses, as it only started to do with greater commitment, 2017 would not have been the horrible year it was. In fact, of the 70.1 million investment promised up to 2032, for the recovery of physical losses, only 10.6 million were spent (source: Acqualatina at the Mayors’ Conference of 20 June 2017).

With a water network that instead of losing 68% had lost only 53%, compared to a national average of 30/35%, there would have been no water crisis. So at the base there is the lack of prevention and the drought was only the triggering cause of a situation that, of its own, was already very precarious. An investigation is underway at the court.

The water crisis of summer 2017, especially in the areas of South Pontino, then caused a wild ride to do it yourself through the purchase and installation of tanks and autoclaves. The latter in the presence of network pressure and adequate flow rates do not influence the distribution. On the other hand, in the event of a shortage and of the quotation of the precious liquid, the private accumulations distort the correct functioning of the network and penalize people who have not been able to afford them.

What then are those less wealthy and socially more vulnerable. In fact, the water that flows into the tap after a period of drought is used by all the users and, moreover, fills the private tanks that only a part of them has installed. When there is water under pressure the family (or the activity) that has the tank does not use it, it uses the net. But even when the family closes the tap, the tank at his disposal continues to steal water from the aqueduct, because in the meantime it is filling up. If due to the water crisis the cubic meters of water supplied by the aqueduct are limited, they are exhausted in a short time and you understand how they are penalized.

The water problem, which also manifests itself in many parts of Italy, is increasingly becoming a problem of global dimensions, where these phenomena were already taking place, today it is becoming increasingly acute. Just think of the rise in global temperature to understand how it is urgent to intervene on the climate to avoid droughts and desertification  of greater extension.

The water crisis is never democratic: it makes people less equal and damages the weakest.

If we arrive at the paradox of having a private storage capacity greater than that of public tanks, in the event of a water crisis, we could have situations of authentic emergency: water would fill the private tanks, leaving the others dry. This is why some managers (but not ours) have set limits to private deposits, reporting their capacity to the number of people subdued by individual users and the average needs of just one day.

Above all, there is always the climate emergency with the dramatic appeal to run for cover. We hypothesize a scenario in which, raising the temperature at the atmospheric level and reducing rains in some areas of the world with intensification of violent and unpredictable phenomena, which we already witness every day, there would be greater water scarcity in some areas in the face of devastating phenomena.

In addition to these causes, apparently natural, but substantially induced by man with the senseless use of polluting air emissions, there is the phenomenon of the dispersion of large quantities of water in the subsoil due to lack of suitable maintenance. For my part, it is calculated, for example, that there is a loss of more than 68%. At this rate, the lack of future rain, with consequent failure to fill the water basins, will be one of the deflagrating causes of new calamities, exoduses and pestilences.

Considering therefore the need to give priority to prudent policies to safeguard the climate, already at the limit of tolerance, we must take into account the importance of water distribution, an irreplaceable primary good. It seems appropriate to prevent the privatization of water resulting in hoarding by a few of the water sources.

We hope that more prudent economic and social policies are aimed at guaranteeing water for all as an indispensable asset.

By Franca Colozzo

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Franca Colozzo

An Italian Architect/Writer /ex Teacher in Italy and also in Turkey, passionate about Human Rights, Peace, Education, Environment, Women’s Empowerment, sustainable Architecture.

Franca Colozzo has 17 posts and counting. See all posts by Franca Colozzo

Franca Colozzo

5 thoughts on “Water: A Good Of All, But Not For Everyone

    • Franca Colozzo

      Stefen Saunders, thank you for your opinion. Unfortunately, my article comes from a climatic situation (a year with few rains) that caused, due to the poor maintenance of the water network, an emergency situation of such magnitude that even the judiciary had to intervene. If the drought, caused by insane human behavior, were repeated without the necessary maintenance of the aqueduct, we will find ourselves again in this emergency. It seems that man is reluctant to make the necessary corrections to the environment so that these situations do not occur again. Water is a human right in the grip of a few private speculators. In my hinterland, despite having the water that flows from natural mountain springs, we pay a great deal for the daily use of it.
      I appeal to the good sense of our rulers to restore dignity to man as established by the Charter of Human Rights.

  • Vineet Mani

    Franca, water is absolutely a fundamental right and must be available and consumed by all uniformally. If the financial status plays a dark role here as well, I do not mind stating that it will lead to anarchy which will be beyond control.

    • Franca Colozzo

      Vineet Mani, thank you for your comment. Water is such an important and necessary asset to life that it should be the prerogative of all living beings. Protecting its use and its correct distribution avoiding unnecessary waste should be our duty.

  • Shoaib Habib Memon

    According to World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2020,

    Today almost 25% of the world’s population face looming water crises.
    The interlinked nature of water management means solutions must involve multiple stakeholders.
    Here is a guide to partnership actions corporate leaders can take to help mitigate this crisis.
    With less than 1% of the world’s freshwater readily available for human consumption and demand expected to increase by 40% by 2030, effective governance and management of freshwater supplies is one of the most fundamental public goods challenges of our time.

    Yet recent headlines about devastating wildfires and water shortages facing Australia, deadly flooding in Jakarta, and Chennai joining Cape Town and other cities in the struggle to avoid ‘Day Zero’ serve as just the latest reminders of how difficult a task this is becoming.

    Already, nearly 25% of the world’s population face looming water crises, and by 2025 the figure is predicted to surpass 60%. In addition to the impacts on human health and ecosystems, water risks are also increasingly material for economic growth and business. The World Bank projects that water scarcity could cost some regions up to 6% of their GDP by 2050. In 2018 alone, companies reported more than $38 billion in financial losses due to water challenges.

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