Vatican turns off iconic fountains in sign of water-saving solidarity

July 26, 2017, 8:23 a.m.
A woman stares at a dry fountain in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican.
Photo: Andreas Solaro/AFP/Getty Images

For the first time in recent memory, the Vatican has turned off its fountains — all to help save water in Rome.

The Vatican has about 100 fountains — both decorative and drinking — that have gone dry, including two Baroque-style fountains in St. Peter's Square that are each 500 years old.

Speaking to Reuters, Vatican spokesperson Greg Burke said this was the first time authorities could remember having to turn off the fountains.

Rome has had 72 percent less rainfall than normal in July, 74 percent less in June, and rainfall was down 56 percent across March, April and May, according to Sky Italia's weather TV channel, as reported by Reuters. The drought is severe enough that Rome has turned off about 2,500 of its drinking fountains and is considering rationing water.

The Vatican sees turning off the fountains as a way to show solidarity with the city that surrounds it and to follow Pope Francis's teachings regarding the environment.

"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," Burke said.

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