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The ‘Noses’ Runs Dry In Rome: As Temperature’s Soars, Rome Is Facing Water Crisis

Rome may be the only city in the world which boasts about their more than 2,000 public fountains supplying excellent cool drinking water. Fountains are the symbol of the city and more than that, it is a welcome source of refreshment for thousands of tourists and locals.

But baking summer heat has forced Rome to close some of the drinking fountains known as “big noses”, or “nasoni”, that constantly gush fresh water on thousands of street corners, causing a public outcry, as Italy grapples with severe drought.

Nasonis are small fountains that could be defined as “democratic” because they are found in residential areas and suburbs as well as the historic city centre. They are made of cast iron and stand about 1 metre tall, with distinctive spout supplying a continuous stream of potable water; at the centre of the spout is a hole from which one can drink when the outlet is blocked with the hand to produce a jet of water.

Hit by the soaring temperatures drying out southern Europe, the Italian capital has started turning off up to 30 of the 2,800 distinctive curved metal taps every day, dismaying Romans and prompting concerns homeless people would become dehydrated.

The decision to turn off the drinking fountains was announced on Thursday by Acea, the company which manages Rome’s water, and the first 30 ‘nasoni’ will be closed on Monday with more to follow throughout the summer period.

“We are well aware of the inconvenience that our initiative may cause,” said Acea’s president Paolo Saccani, but added that the measure was “justified by the exceptional drought”.

A report by environmental organisation Legambiente warned earlier, that almost half of the water is wasted, pumped into Rome’s fountains due to problems with the pipes which have turned the system into a “sieve”. Now turning off Rome’s fountains will give Acea a chance to carry out much-needed improvement works on the piping, according to Saccani, who said old pipes would be replaced and leaks repaired throughout the city.

By: Simran Dhingra

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