Vatican shuts down fountains as Rome deals with drought

IMAGE: CNS photo/Junno Arocho Esteves

By Junno Arocho Esteves

CITY (CNS) — While Rome reels from one of its worst droughts in decades, the
Vatican is doing its part to conserve water by shutting down the city-state’s
100 fountains.

The office
governing Vatican City State announced July 25 that the drought has “led
the Holy See to take measures aimed at saving water” by shutting down
fountains in St. Peter’s Square, throughout the Vatican Gardens and in the
territory of the state.

decision is in line with the teachings of Pope Francis, who reminds us in his
encyclical ‘Laudato Si” how ‘the habit of wasting and discarding’ has reached
‘unprecedented levels’ while ‘fresh
drinking water is an issue of primary importance, since it is indispensable for
human life and for supporting terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems,'” the office

The prolonged
drought has forced officials from the Lazio region of Italy to halt pumping
water from Lake Bracciano, located roughly 19 miles north of Rome. Less than
usual rainfalls in the past two years have steadily depleted the lake, which
provides 8 percent of the city’s water supply.

In an
interview with Italian news outlet Tgcom24, Nicola Zingaretti, the region’s president, said the
lake’s water level has “fallen too much and we risk
an environmental disaster.”

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.

officials may also take the Vatican’s lead and shut down water pouring down
from Rome’s many ancient fountains.

and visitors alike have marveled at the majestic fountains of St. Peter’s Square
that have cascaded water for centuries since their construction in the 17th

While the
source of water was once provided from an ancient Roman aqueduct, the two
fountains, as well as 10 percent of Vatican City State’s 100 fountains
“recirculate water currently,” Greg Burke, Vatican spokesman, told
Catholic News Service in a July 25 email.

Others, he
added, “will eventually be transformed in order to recirculate” the
same water rather than let it be wasted by running into the drainage or sewer

Burke told
CNS that the Vatican’s move to switch off the fountains located within its territory
is “a way to show a good example” in conserving water as the city
deals with the crisis.

not going to be able to solve Rome’s water problem this summer, but we can do
our part,” Burke said. “This is the Vatican putting ‘Laudato Si” into
action. Let’s not waste water.”

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Arocho on Twitter: @arochoju.

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