Climate Change on Lake Bracciano: Sailing Initiatives

APRIL FOOLS’ DAY – THIS IS A JOKE

Lake Bracciano is a huge circular volcanic lake really close to Rome. It’s a really important place. Not only is it one of the main fresh-water reservoirs of Rome; it is a historical Snipe sailing venue, hosting two snipe Fleets and many important snipe Regattas, from the World Masters Championship in 2004 to several National Championships, including Nationals this year (22-23 June).

Lake Bracciano has supplied fresh water to Rome since 52AD, through an astonishing engineering masterpiece: the so-called “Claudio Acqueduct,” named for the Emperor Claudius. The underground water pipeline is almost 70km long, all hand-made, run just by gravity, and still perfectly working today, reaching Rome in another masterpiece from the Renaissance, the Fountain of Acqua Paola (see picture below):

Unfortunately, three years ago, during a massive drought, the local Water Utility had to over-spill water from the Lake, causing a massive drop in the Lake Bracciano water mass: a reduction of the average water-surface level by more than 3 meters.

That kind of loss, for a water mass only filled by rain and springs, has been absolutely disruptive.

The Lake is more then 200 meters deep in the middle, but even though spilling has since been stopped, it has not rained as much as hoped and all shore-line ecosystems and human activities have been affected.

To try to speed up the refilling process so crucial for local lake ecosystems and to be ready for another drought, the Local Authorities put out a set of initiatives, which will affect this year’s sailing.

Beginning this summer season, each sailing boat (powerboats are not allowed on Lake Bracciano) shall have to bring 2 Liters of fresh water for each person on board, to drop in the lake. Each Club must check that each sailor leaving the shore in the morning carries the 2 Liter personal endowment.

For regattas, the Race Committee, together with the 5 minute signal, shall also make a dedicated signal at which all the crews in the pre-race area shall drop their water endowment into the Lake.

In addition, each sail and deck shall be wrapped in reflecting material, like the one shown here:

to reduce the risk of evaporation during hot summer days.

For sure this will dramatically reduce the sailing performance of each boat, so boats without reflecting sails and deck-surfaces shall be immediately disqualified.

Meanwhile if a boat loses its reflecting coverage the crew must fully recover it before finishing the race.

Everyone hopes all this stuff will bring up the Lake level again, so we’ll be able to sail again without dedicated fresh-water endowment or reflecting materials on board. But for sure it’s a reasonable price to pay to have our amazing Lake back in good shape as soon as possible. At least we hope so.

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