The Vatican has turned off the city state’s 100 fountains to conserve water as Rome deals with one of its worst droughts in decades.

The office governing Vatican City State announced 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.

“The 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 said.

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. Lower than usual rainfalls in the past two years have steadily depleted the lake, which provides eight per cent 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 had “fallen too much and we risk an environmental disaster”.

While the drought had already forced 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 1.5 million residents.

​How to continue reading…

This article appears in the Catholic Herald magazine - to read it in full subscribe to our digital edition from just 30p a week

The Catholic Herald is your essential weekly guide to the Catholic world; latest news, incisive opinion, expert analysis and spiritual reflection