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Francesco Vincenzi, president of ANBI: "We need a European water policy modulated on the different territorial realities"

Irrigators from Piedmont region calls for new reservoirs and lower level experiments on Lake Maggiore.


Po river.

The new alarm about water comes from the Italian region Piedmont due to the application of the European regulation on ecological runoff, scheduled for 2025: the perspective is to have to reduce water extractions from rivers by half, reducing the distribution of water in the territories, thus compromising ecosystems and increasing water difficulties in the already recurrent dry seasons; The environment and agri-food excellence of our country would be heavily penalized.

“We believe that the expected coefficients are too high and it is necessary to review them, maintaining the objectives of the European Directive, but also the benefits that the hydraulic network has on the territory and its communities. Europe is not hydrologically homogeneous and measures to protect the resource must be adapted to different realities: the now torrential flows of the Po are certainly not those of rivers like the Danube or the Rhine," says Francesco Vincenzi, president of the National Association of Consortia of Management and Protection of the Territory and Irrigation Waters (ANBI).

“Our proposal is not to indicate a fixed parameter for the ecological flow, but to adapt the levels with respect to the water situation present in the river bed,” adds Mario Fossati, director of the Est Sesia Irrigation Association who, like the Venetian recovery consortiums, two years ago drew attention to a nodal measure not only for the Italian agricultural economy, but also for hydroelectric production.

Rivers with abundant water, some even in the middle of spring, water tables that have increased, and Lake Maggiore full: this is the situation of water availability in Piedmont, after the latest meteorological events, certainly better than in the same period of 2023.

“However, we must store this water – adds Fossati – because we can be optimistic during the first part of the irrigation season until June, but during the summer we will still be at the mercy of the meteorological trend.”

In this regard, it is worth highlighting an element that could cause critical problems: since the current season is not dry, the agreements to retain more water in Lake Maggiore (at 1.35 altitude) will not come into force, nor will the experimentation, that starts an altitude of 1.50; instead, a level of 1.25 is expected.

“It would rather be anticipating events – adds Massimo Gargano, general director of ANBI – taking advantage of the situation of abundant water to create a reserve capable of facing any difficult situation.”

For this reason, in Piedmont there is also talk of building new reservoirs to collect water; In this sense, the Est Sesia Irrigators' Association looks at the Alpine territory and has started a debate with the Region in the medium term: in fact, we are talking about at least a period of ten years to carry out this type of projects.

“There are many problems to face – continues Gargano – starting with the costs of design and construction, the bureaucratic process and the Nimby syndrome, according to which no one wants the reservoir on their territory; therefore, transparent communication with local communities is needed.”

“We believe that we must push for the Piedmont Region to immediately promote a plan for multifunctional reservoirs,” concludes Mario Fossati.

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