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Italian irrigators warn that "5,000 million cubic meters of water are lacking compared to what was expected 50 years ago"

According to ANBI, there is an urgent need to significantly increase the reservoir's capacity to meet water needs in a context conditioned by the climate crisis, where it now rains in an increasingly "tropical" manner.

3/22/2021

River channel in Italy.

"In Italy we must not perform the miracle of transforming the desert into a flourishing land, but we must make the best use of the talents that have been entrusted to us with an extraordinary territory, which must also be protected from the threat of aridity": This is the evocative image that Francesco Vincenzi, president of the National Association of Consortiums for the Management and Protection of Territory and Irrigation Waters (ANBI), indicates, on the occasion of World Water Day, the water strategy that Italy should follow.

The "talents" are given by a rainfall trend that, despite extreme weather events, sees 1000 mm of rain fall annually in Italy (almost 2000 mm in some areas of Friuli-Venezia Giulia and Liguria and only 300 mm in areas of Apulia), equivalent to a total volume of approximately 300,000 million cubic meters, more than half of which, however, return to the atmosphere through evapotranspiration; therefore, it is estimated that the potentially available water resources are approximately 110,000 million cubic meters, of which only 53,000 million are actually usable.

"Of this wealth, however, we managed to retain only 5,800 million, that is, around 11%. The talent we need to develop is to increase this percentage," says the president of ANBI.

In this sense, ANBI has indicated since 2017, together with the then #italiasicura Mission Structure, a strategy made up of 2,000 medium-small reservoirs that will be implemented in 20 years thanks to an investment of approximately 2,000 million euros; at the same time, the first 218 projects were presented, involving 17 regions (the largest number, 73, in Veneto, but it is Calabria, the region that needs the most investment: 527 million euros).

In September 2020, in the perspective of the Recovery Plan, ANBI presented an Efficiency Plan for the Hydraulic Network of the Country, which includes, first, the extraordinary maintenance of 90 reservoirs, mostly underground.

“Its capacity - says Massimo Gargano, General Manager of ANBI - is reduced by 10.7% due to the presence of more than 72 million cubic meters of sediment deposited at the bottom: 46 basins are in the South, 36 in the Center, 9 in the North. "

In addition, the ANBI Plan provides for the completion of 16 basins (total capacity: 96,015,080 m3; investment: almost 452 million euros) and the construction of 23 new reservoirs (total capacity: 264,493,800 m3; investment: approximately 1,000 million and 231 million euros).
“They are all definitive and executive projects, that is, an advanced bureaucratic process and therefore capable of respecting the calendar indicated by the European Union, guaranteeing about 10,000 jobs. That is why - insists the DG of ANBI - we reiterate the request for inclusion in the National Plan for Relaunching and Resilience ”.

It is useful to remember that, even in 1971, the National Water Conference of Italy had indicated at least 17,000 million cubic meters, the need for a reservoir necessary to cover the needs of the country in 1980; Today, according to data from the Italian Committee for Large Dams, this capacity amounts to 13,700 million cubic meters, of which only 11,900 million are authorized, a volume far from what was expected 50 years ago!

According to ANBI, there is an urgent need to significantly increase the capacity of the reservoir to meet water needs in a context conditioned by the climate crisis, where it now rains in an increasingly "tropical" way (large volumes in autumn-winter, little in spring -summer) with repeated flood phenomena in all regions (in recent years, the state spends an average of 3,500 million a year to repair the damage) and drought seasons also in areas, where in the past such phenomena were very rare (The situation is already critical in Sicily today and the conditions of suffering of the water are repeated in the Adriatic belt of the Apennines).

The Italian territory is supplied with water through a network of some 200,000 kilometers of waterways (about 5 times the circumference of the Earth), which require extraordinary maintenance in the face of extreme weather events. The sanitation and irrigation consortia have 729 construction projects ready (included in the ANBI Plan for the Efficiency of the Hydraulic Network of the Country: 241 in the North, 266 in the Center, 222 in the South), capable of guaranteeing almost 12,000 jobs working with an investment. of approximately 2,000 million and 365 million euros.

"On World Water Day - Gargano concludes - it is finally appropriate to emphatically point out that the fundamental function of the minor hydraulic network now runs the risk of being compromised by the mechanical application of the community parameters of Ecological Flow, evolution of the Minimum Vital Flow, already implanted in our country. The objective of ensuring the habitable conditions of the waterways is a priority but, as always, it must be adapted to local realities. It is evident that the flows of the great continental rivers are very different from those of the Italian waterways, where even the Po is now characterized by a torrential trend with strong flow deviations ".

"The bodies of water must be respected, but the danger of a rigid interpretation of the parameters - announces the concerned president of ANBI, Vincenzi - is that there is no longer enough water available to guarantee a territory recognized in the world and of which they are part. the fountains, the water meadows, the stable meadows, the polychromy of the panoramas; the use of water resources is also essential to maintain environmental balance. It is a battle that we are fighting through Irrigants d'Europe and for which On this very day, we ask for the commitment of the entire country."


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