Pope Francis shuts off Vatican fountains due to Italy drought


The Eternal City's famous public drinking fountains, known as "big noses" have already been targeted with shut offs because of the drought, though groups such as the Red Cross criticized the move for its effect on Rome's homeless.

All 100 Vatican City fountains, including two Baroque masterpieces in St Peter's Square, will be shut off in the coming days as a drought sweeps Rome and other parts of Italy.

The Vatican has had concerns surrounding the environment for years, and Pope Francis demanded swift action be taken by world leaders in the first-ever papal document dedicated to the environment, published in 2015. Around 100 fountains in total have been switched off, according to Reuters.

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"This decision is very much in line with the pope's thinking on ecology: you can't waste and sometimes you have to be willing to make a sacrifice", he told Reuters.

Water supplies are in jeopardy in Rome following an unusually dry summer season, and authorities are considering several emergency measures to address the crisis, including rationing.

Italy is suffering from a severe drought.

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Vatican spokesman Greg Burke told the media that it was the first time anyone present could remember all the fountains being shut off.

Rome has received 72% less rain than normal this month, and received 74% less than normal in June.

Meteorologists say the spring of 2017 was Italy's third-driest in some 60 years. The Lazio region is considering rationing water in Rome from Saturday for 1.5 million inhabitants for up to eight hours a day - though the proposal is being fiercely challenged by the city's anti-establishment mayor.

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