Sunday, May 1, 2011

Italy's Super-Sized Water Purification Problem

The water ..... is one resource!!!!Image by rogilde - roberto la forgia via FlickrBy Kristie Brown

When it comes to countries that have water resource problems, you probably think of places like India or somewhere in darkest Africa. However, highly-industrialized and modern nations have problems, too, if they aren't prepared to adequately manage their water, its pollution, and treatment.

It's hard to imagine that Italy, the economic center of the ancient world, is one of these nations; however, it is. Most of the water that is available to the country is filled with industrial and agricultural contaminants, and the government doesn't appear to be able to keep up with the need for water filtration and treatment in keeping with the growth in population.

Italy's cities produce 19.1 million tons of solid waste per year. That in itself creates a staggering amount of water needing to be treated. The country has been having water difficulties at least since 1976 when a Swiss chemical plant explosion released toxic debris causing the evacuation of 1,000 residents and a recommendation that pregnant women have their babies aborted.

In more recent years, the deplorable water conditions in Italian lakes have come into the spotlight, especially around the Laglio beach area, when American actor George Clooney purchased two waterfront villas. While the view is impeccable, the beach and the lake water are not. Bacteria levels in this water were tested, and it was determined that the levels were 68% higher than they should be. While testing shows that Italy is making inroads in cleaning up its saltwater resources, the lakes are becoming more polluted.

Although Clooney fans flocked to the Laglio beach area and were tempted to take a dip in the sparkling, azure waters, they were doing so at their own risk. Skin infections and dermatitis are common complaints afflicting those who exposed their bodies to the water. Biologists have also found that the worst stretches of the beach can contain nastier types of bacteria, such as salmonella. Although closing beaches isn't in the best interest of Italy's tourist industry, it has sometimes been necessary in order to keep people safe.

Italy's water problems can be traced to many sources. These include more intensive agriculture which results in toxic run-offs, illegal housing and industries that discharge contaminants into the water, and global warming which causes there to be less rainfall as a means to replenish the water resources. In addition, the water purification systems built back in the 1970s and '80s are now too small and inadequate to work the way they need to work to cope with today's problems.

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1 comment:

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