Combating Aridity

Water scarcity and the Emilia Romagna model

Aridity is squeezing Italy with an ever more painful grip. Between unfinished works, last-minute projects, and a water-network that is too old (with losses in some zones reaching almost fifty per cent), there is, however, a region where the scarcity of rain is being managed in an efficient and modern way: Emilia-Romagna, the true heart of Italian agriculture. In terms of precipitation, for those areas along the river Po the year 2017 was particularly negative. Nevertheless, the infrastructure of the region – also known as Food Valley, one of the areas in Europe where some of the most fruit and vegetables are cultivated – was capable of satisfying the enormous demand for water. How? Through ever more efficient systems (like those governed by the land reclamation and drainage authorities and the Emiliano Romagnolo canal, one of the most important hydraulic works in Italy), an ever-increasing number of artificial reservoirs, companies which have adopted politics of water recycling (as in the case of Conserve Italia), and the introduction of principles like technological experimentation. Here universities have been the ones to study and propose the most innovative solutions. Like that of Parma where the research group IMEM-CNR developed an organic, electrochemical transistor that provides feedback on water needs directly from the plant. And the Universities of Ferrara and Bologna, which together came up with the GST4WATER project, which aims at collecting rainwater in the area of civilian consumption. An ancient need but one that is now being handled with smartphones.

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