During 2017, the low rainfall was accompanied by high temperatures, and determined an increase in consumption, but Hera provided the water supply service regularly throughout the area without any outage or limitation. This was possible both due to the interconnections of the water supply networks and source differentiation implemented over the years on the water service, and to the extraordinary measures put in place to manage the summer drought, especially in some Apennine areas.
Water sourcing in mountain areas, mainly springs, was proportionally less available due to lower rainfall, as the typical depletion curve of the Apennine springs decreased about three months earlier, and the exceptionally low level of the watercourses led to a decrease in water production at some water treatment plants.
In the Apennines, the Modena area has been equipped over the years with infrastructure designed to manage the water requirements and the original municipal aqueducts have been interconnected so that the physical integration of each of them makes up an infrastructure system capable of mutuality and subsidiarity. The saturation of the transport capacity of the entire water-supply system, required to transfer the resource from zones where water is available to those where it is lacking, was made possible by the cooperation between the specialist skills of the “on site” operators and those of the remote control system, which were able to create the necessary configurations and optimize them centrally and mainly remotely.
Hera operates the main aqueduct system in the Bologna area: it distributes approximately 90% of the total volume for the province of Bologna. The lower production of the Val di Setta power plant, due to the exceptionally low water flow rate, was offset by the use of groundwater, which provided supply continuity to the primary system even in critical conditions. In the Apennines area near Bologna, on the other hand, the construction of two new pumping plants in the municipality of Guiglia and the interconnection with the Modena system, and in particular the construction of a new storage and pumping plant in the Monte Severo (Monte San Pietro) area, have made it possible to reduce the need to supply tanks in the mountains using tanker trucks (down by 40% in the summer of 2017 compared to 2012, the most recent significant drought).
In Romagna, where Hera operates mainly as a distributor, Romagna Acque Società delle Fonti built the “Standiana” drinking water plant (capable of treating a flow of 1100 l/sec) in the Ravenna area in response to the problem of water reserves on the Adriatic coast, a major tourist destination, supplementing the Ridracoli feeding system. In any case, in the Romagna area, the measures Hera has implemented in recent years have also mitigated the problems caused by the dry summer, such as:
- in the Forlì-Cesena area: the construction and start-up of the new interconnection between the Cesena water distribution network and the primary supply line, the Meleto reservoir plant in Sogliano to supplement and increase water availability, the implementation of the remote control system at the main storage tanks in the municipality of Bagno di Romagna;
- in the Ravenna area: the upgrade of the San Martino a Lugo pumping station to supplement the Sant’Agata sul Santerno water distribution network, the upgrade of the remote control system to control pumping and water levels in the tanks of the Parco Carnè aqueduct in Brisighella, the Vaiursole pumping station and the water distribution network underlying Marradi to improve the water supply of the area, the construction of the Faggiola pumping station at Palazzuolo sul Senio to supply the Croce di Visano reservoir;
- in the Rimini area: the upgrade of the Monte Pedriccio pumping station in the municipality of Saludecio to facilitate water distribution network integration for the municipalities of Saludecio, Mondaino and Montegridolfo, the upgrade of the Conca pumping station in the Municipality of Montefiore, of the Miramare pumping station in Rimini, of the Cattolica pumping station, the extraordinary maintenance work on the Senatello water system in the municipality of Casteldelci and at Sant’Agata Feltria.
The measures implemented are directed towards increasing the interconnected management of water supply networks and increasingly developing remote control systems and automated management of water systems in the direction of a smart grid aqueduct, a path which leads to be able to manage and control the problems which occur in extraordinarily dry summers such as that of 2017.