It’s the end of June, 2022—and Italy is currently facing its worst drought in 70 years. You might not think this is a motorcycle-adjacent story at first, but we assure you—it is. New satellite photos from the European Space Agency very quickly show you the gravity of the situation, as they depict how the Po River has dried up between June, 2020 and June, 2022.
The Po River provides drinking water, agricultural water, and hydroelectric power across northern Italy. It’s now incredibly low—in fact, it’s up to 80 percent lower than usual for this time of year, according to Italy civil protection department chief Fabrizio Curcio.
In some places, salt water from the Adriatic Sea is now flowing back into the Po because there hasn’t been any rain to fill it up. That’s a major problem for farmers, because spraying crops with salt will kill them instead of giving them what they need to grow.
How does this all relate to motorcycles, you may ask? According to Motociclismo Fuoristrada, this unprecedented drought will almost certainly affect 2022 motocross events in the country. After all, water is necessary for track workers to mold the dirt and keep it at the right level of moisture (not too dusty) for competition.
Various regions of northern Italy are feeling the heat right now, and the president of the Lombardy region has already declared a state of water emergency. As you can probably guess, this means water is only to be used as absolutely necessary—so, clearly not for something like outdoor recreation. Even washing your car or bike is frowned upon, because although it’s nice to have a clean vehicle, you can probably live without it.
The city of Milan, which is located in the Lombardy region, has already turned off a number of its outdoor fountains. It’s also been telling residents that water rationing may be on its way. Drinking fountains are still running, as are fountains that have fish and plants depending on them—but purely decorative ones have been turned off.
At the same time, Italy is also experiencing a major heatwave, and some Milanese residents have already been experiencing power cuts. They’ve also been cautioned against setting their air conditioners too low, as a means of conserving energy and hopefully avoiding serious or protracted power cuts in the future.