Speed Reading — Italy Drought - Level 5 — 200 wpm

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Europe is experiencing water shortages. One region in northern Italy has its worst drought for 70 years. It has seen little rainfall in the past four months. This year's snowfall was 70 per cent lower. The water level of Italy's largest river, the Po, is three metres lower than average. A lot of the riverbed has dried up and people can walk across the mud. This has fully exposed a World War II shipwreck. Authorities are worried that if it doesn't rain soon, there'll be a serious water shortage. This will mean rationing, and farmers will have problems finding water to irrigate crops.

Authorities said the water shortages are unprecedented. The River Po gets much of its water from a lake in the Italian Alps. The lake has had its lowest water levels since 1946. Higher-than-average temperatures and a mini heat wave are making things worse. A farmer from a rural town near Milan said she is expecting a "disastrous year". She said high temperatures and no rain will be "catastrophic." She added: "We believe that there will be a drop in wheat productivity by at least 20 per cent." The Po Valley will see a 30 to 40% reduction in fruit and vegetable production.

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