Vatican turns off its fountains amid drought in Rome

Vatican turns off its fountains amid drought in Rome

The Vatican has switched off its fountains amid a growing water shortage in Rome and surrounding areas of the capital, which had just 26 days of rain this year, Vatican Radio reported on Tuesday.

All the fountains located in St. Peter's Square and the Vatican Gardens have been turned off, Vatican radio reported.

Vatican Radio said the measures were "in line with" Pope Francis' 2015 teaching letter on the environment which deplored the plundering of the earth's resources and urged "swift and unified global action" for their conservation.

Italy had one of its driest springs in 60 years and rainfall in some parts of the country has been 80 percent below normal levels, according to meteorologists.

The drought has caused two billion euros of damage to agriculture and the country is also grappling with a series of forest fires - including in the Rome area - as the searing summer temperatures create tinder-dry conditions.

The governor of the Lazio region surrounding Rome, Nicola Zingaretti, has ordered no more water to be drawn from nearby Lake Bracciano, whose decreasing water levels are threatening its aquatic life.

As the sizzling heatwave continues, the Acea utility company has warned of drastic water rationing in Rome, which faces eight hours a day without running water after Zingaretti's order.