Vatican shuts off historic fountains in the midst of devastating drought

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A report on Vatican Radio said the decision was consistent with Pope Francis' teachings on the environment: The Pope has denounced waste and emphasized the importance of access to clean drinking water.

The historic fountains in Saint Peter's Square at the Vatican lay empty yesterday after the tiny city state turned them off as Italy struggles with a prolonged drought.

"This decision is very much in line with the pope's thinking on ecology".

While the drought already forced Rome city officials to shut down some of Rome's public drinking fountains in June, it may lead to strict water rationing for the city's estimated 1.5 million residents.

It will however keep a minimum of 85 fountains open and will decide on how many fountains to close day by day based on the weather and severity of drought, the spokesman said.

According to news sources, a water rationing strategy could soon be enforced in the city. Pope Francis has always preached about solidarity, so shutting off the fountains, despite their popularity, is a show of solidarity with the people of Rome.

Some 300 of the city's famous "big nose" public fountains - so called due to their shape - have already been turned off and more will follow.

The governor of the Lazio region surrounding Rome, Nicola Zingaretti, has ordered no more water to be drawn from nearby Lake Bracciano, whose decreasing water levels are threatening its aquatic life.

Ten regions across the country have called for a state of emergency to be declared after Italy suffered the second-driest spring in 60 years and rainfall in the first six months of the year was down 33 per cent.

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