Reform of the water service, Utilitalia’s proposals

Objective: “Quota 100: 100 euros per year of investments per capita, 100 medium-large sized managers”

An integrated approach between different uses, i.e. which includes infrastructures for reuse, sustainable management of rainwater, energy and material recovery; the introduction of parameters for verifying management capabilities; aggregations between companies to reduce fragmentation; transfer of functions in non-compliant territories to the Regions. This, in short, is the reform of the water service outlined by Utilitalia, a federation that brings together companies operating in public water, environment and energy services. Objective: “Quota 100: 100 euros per year of investments per capita, 100 medium-large sized managers”.

Filippo Brandolini, president of Utilitalia, explains to Adnkronos the federation’s proposals for a Water Service 3.0, announced during the Legambiente Water Forum. Proposals that are based on two main motivations: “The first is linked to the fact that the water service has not yet completed the process of bringing it up to speed hypothesized with the Galli law, or in some areas of our country the integrated water service and management by area has not been carried out; the second reason is connected to climate changes which are subjecting the water service to strong stress, like other human activities, for which we believe it is necessary to have a different approach, a global and coordinated vision of the resource, going beyond sectoral visions”.

Among the objectives of the reform, as mentioned, is 100 euros of investments per inhabitant. Since 2012, investments in the sector have increased by 227%, reaching 4 billion per year and 56 euros per capita. “An increase achieved thanks to the fact that the water service was subjected to a regulation that gave greater certainty, both to the territories and to the operators, on the realization of investments. We aim to reach 100 euros per capita to align ourselves with the European average, a level that corresponds to the investment needs for the maintenance of infrastructures and to create new ones, necessary to face climate change (to retain water, interconnection of water networks, etc…)”, he says.

Utilitalia’s proposals are summarized in four points: guarantee the immediate transfer to the Regions of the exercise of functions in the non-compliant territories; introduce parameters for verifying management capacity; encourage broader scopes and aggregations; provide an integrated approach that includes reuse, sustainable management of rainwater and urban drainage.

This last point refers to a necessary action to adapt to the climate crisis which is linked to the reduced water availability, an estimated 20% less in the last 30 years compared to the period 1921-1950. In this context, the potential for reuse is vast. “We believe that the circular economy is a principle also applicable to the management of water resources and reuse is a central element,” explains Brandolini. What is it about? “Water used for various civil uses is subjected to purification processes in order to reach quality levels for which it can be returned to the environment. Therefore, these are purified waters that do not cause pollution and are rich in nutrients such as phosphorus and nitrogen which can be useful for agriculture; an opportunity that is little exploited in our country where only 4% of purified water is used for agricultural reuse while the potential, according to Arera estimates, could be 23%,” he adds.

In conclusion, “to have quality, modern, safe management of water resources for citizens and the environment, industrial managements are needed that have the capacity, starting from the financial ones, to make investments and use the best technologies available. This is why it is important to move towards overcoming economic management, to have large industrial entities. Let’s overcome the still too numerous managements in the economy and move towards the 100 industrial managements that have the characteristics to face the challenges of climate change”.