Our reaffirmed commitment to protection of water resources led us, during 2018 to identify major measures to enhance and renovate the aqueduct infrastructure by 2030, to counter the effects of droughts, increase the reliability of supply and the overall resilience of the systems, increasingly called to support new operating conditions to better cope with current climate change. In this regard, various scenarios have been defined, which can be grouped on the one hand to the integration or partial replacement of sources currently exploited, and on the other hand to the creation of interconnections to allow the exchange of resources and the possibility of dealing with emergency conditions.
The project for the collection of water from the Emiliano Romagnolo Canal, which will allow an increase of about 50% in the available flow rates from surface sources, serving the municipalities of the Bolognese plain, is within the first scenario of development. Also the design assumption of exploiting the volumes accumulated at the artificial lake of Brasimone in the area of Camugnano will allow to make up for the water shortage in the summer periods, which in the past was dealt with using in emergency with tanker trucks.
Interconnection work between aqueduct systems have already been started in Romagna to connect to the Siepi-Pianacci facility of the San Leo backbone, aimed at ensuring reliability of supply in the municipality of San Leo in dry weather. Other important interconnection projects in the Emilia region are also being planned, such as the one that will connect the primary system of Bologna with the Castelfranco Emilia aqueduct or, in the Modena area, the interconnections between the Secchia Valley and the Panaro Valley.
In addition to the new work described above, we would like to mention what we have done in recent years, which have made it possible to cope with a particularly dry summer in 2017, an exceptional condition that could occur again in the future. 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 aqueduct 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. In the Apennines area near Bologna, on the other hand, the interconnection with the Modena system, the construction of two new pumping plants in the municipality of Guiglia and in particular the construction of a new storage and pumping plant in the Monte Severo (Monte San Pietro, BO) 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 (interconnections, upgrading of pumps and implementation of the remote control system) have also mitigated the problems caused by the dry summer.
During 2018, the network districtisation and active search for losses continued throughout the area, together with a plan to replace pipelines and connections, increasingly governed by criteria for analysing and interpreting the available data, which can be traced back to physical factors of the aqueduct infrastructure (material, diameter, age of the pipeline, etc.) and to environmental factors (type of soil, climatic aspects understood as precipitation rather than external temperature).
In this regard, in 2018 Hera, with the support of the University of Bologna, launched a study to investigate the factors that influence the probability of failure, developing guided models that focus precisely on the relevance of climatic factors on the probability of occurrence of the failure event.
This project is part of a broader range of joint actions and strategies involving the various stakeholders (managers, environmental planners, environmental bodies and control bodies), as was explained in detail in the conference promoted by Hera in July 2018. Its purpose is to fight the breakdown of aqueduct networks in relation to the efficient use of water resources and climate change in progress.