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Rome Closes Drinking Fountains to Cope with Drought | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Centurions drink from a fountain near Rome’s Coliseum during a heat wave in summer 2014. (ANGELO CARCONI/epa/Corbis)

Rome, London- Baking summer heat triggered a public outcry following a decision to close some of the drinking fountains known as “big noses”, or “nasoni” that constantly gush fresh water on thousands of street corners.

Hit by the soaring temperatures drying out southern Europe, the Italian capital has started turning off distinctive curved metal taps every day, dismaying Romans and prompting concerns homeless people would become dehydrated.

Drinking fountains are considered among the unique features of the Italian capital. Rome’s citizens call them “nasoni” for their remarkable resemblance to a big nose.

Tourists who used to fill their plastic bottles in the central Piazza Venezia expressed discontent because they are now obliged to buy commercial bottles.

In a letter to Rome’s mayor, Virginia Raggi, Water Company Acea blamed the “exceptional drought” for the temporary measure.

The company said it was committed to replacing and fixing the city’s decayed and ruptured pipes, which according to consumer group Codacons leak 40 percent of the water they carry.

Environmental group Eco Italia Solidale said the “big noses” accounted for only 1 percent of Rome’s water supply but helped in keeping sewers clean and watering plants in public places.