Bad management and dry taps in Turin

Kiara writes*

Water scarcity in the metropolitan area of Turin (Italy) is the result of climate change, weak government policy, and corruption.

Turin’s watershed stretches across 570 km2 at the foot of the Cottian Alps. With water coming from the Sangone, Dora, Stura and Po rivers (Italy’s longest), Turin does not seem a natural place for water scarcity, but now its citizens struggle for water.

The first issue Turin faces is leakage. According to a member of the Turin Water Committee, 47% of its 356 million m3 (MCM) supply is lost to leaks (Transnational Institute 2018). In 2022, Prime Minister Mario Draghi blamed leakage on bad management and weak governmental supervision of water allocation. SMAT (Societa Metropolitata Acque Torino), the public organization that has managed Turin’s water since 2001 has not made much progress in reducing leaks. Their Consolidated Financial Statement for 2021, 2022 says very little about investing in leak management.

Second is climate change. In 2022, Turin experienced a drought of 110 days — the second longest drought in 65 years (Corriere Torino 2022). The 80 percent drop in precipitation left the Po dry in places.

The weakness of SMAT’s management is clearly shown in the leakage statistics, but also in social tensions over sharing scarcity.

A state of emergency was declared in June 2022, with many limits on water use. Outdoor watering and irrigation, car washing, and refilling pools and fountains were prohibited, on pain of fines ranging from €25 to 500. The state of emergency shows how bad management can take away peoples’ right to use water for recreational but also for farming.

With surrounding cities re-entering a state of emergency in February 2023, it will not be long before Turin is also in a state of emergency. It is urgent that SMAT, the Municipalities of Turin, and the Italian government work quickly to reduce the harm that water scarcity will bring to Turin’s people.

Bottom Line: Poor management has increased water scarcity in Turin. Citizens deserve better.

* Please help my Water Scarcity students by commenting on unclear analysis, alternative perspectives, better data sources, or maybe just saying something nice 🙂

Author: David Zetland

I'm a political-economist from California who now lives in Amsterdam.

2 thoughts on “Bad management and dry taps in Turin”

  1. Dear Kiara,

    I found your post really insightful as it provides a brief but concise remark on the water scarcity issue as well as its social implications on the lives of Turin’s citizens. I like how you took a contrasting approach, starting with emphasising the rather advantageous location of the examined city with regards to potential water supplies, and then taking a sharp turn towards investigating how climate change and mismanagement induce scarcity problems in the region. The use of data neatly complemented and underpinned your arguments and statements. The only thing I missed was more extensive elaboration on how corruption manifests itself in the case of water management in Turin, as you named it as one of the main reasons for the scarcity problems of the city in your first paragraph but did not really follow up on the topic later on.

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