Water is the natural element that mostly characterizes the history, the culture and the myths of Puglia. This southern Italian region reaches out eastwards to the Mediterranean and its extremity marks the conjunction of Adriatic and Ionic Sea. But water, so abundant off the coast, has always been scarce, and thus precious, inland.
The problem of water supply has been properly addressed only since the end of the XIX century, when, following the national Reunification, it became evident that its scarcity was a crucial constraint for social and economic development. New agricultural practices and population growth needed an extensive extraction of groundwater through modern infrastructures. The construction of the regional Aqueduct represents a landmark in this sense: an aqueduct network that nowadays stretches for 22,500 kilometers (30 times the length of the Po), being the biggest aqueduct in Europe, and over 11,000 km of sewage networks and 182 treatment plants.
Over the last four decades, further improvements in the water supply infrastructures has been made. Large reservoirs were built, meant to regulate resources earmarked for uses other than drinking water (irrigation, hydroelectric, industrial), and the introduction of new legislative instruments made it possible to define an integrated water policy – involving political, social, economic and technical aspects – regarding management and transfer of water resources.
Water priorities in the region
Water is a main issue in the political and administrative agenda of Puglia, as it is essential for its regional Agricultural Sector, encompassing almost 352.000 farms, and for its 4 millions inhabitants. The Region does not have any relevant surface fresh water source (i.e. rivers, etc.) while it manages the biggest aqueduct in Europe (the Acquedotto Pugliese). Therefore, the strategic priorities for the sector are mainly the re-use of waste water and water efficiency.
Involvement in the EU
Puglia region has been invited by the European Commission take an active part in the European Innovation Partnership on Water.
Puglia Region has been pursuing an active role in the water sector also at the European level, thanks to the support of its Brussels-based office.
In 2011 Regional President Vendola was rapporteur of the Committee of the Regions’ opinion on “The role of local and regional authorities in promoting a sustainable water management”. The opinion suggested that the pricing policy should be based, with progressive pricing, on the over-user pays principle, as this is could be a way to restore lost environmental availability.
The Region has also been invited by the European Commission take an active part in the European Innovation Partnership on Water. It is member of the High Level Steering Group, the governance authority of the EIP, and of the Task Force, which drafted the Strategic Implementation Plan, outlining the priorities, work method and governance of the EIP on Water.
Furthermore, Puglia participates in two projects financed by 7th Financial Framework and in two Action Groups (notably on Water Governance and Financing for Innovation).
Lastly, Puglia Region is co-leader (with Friesland and Aragon) of the Working Group on Water created within the European Regions Research and Innovation Network (ERRIN), whose aim is to enhance cooperation and knowledge transfer in the water sector among the regions of the network
Link with RTD&Innovation
A regional partnership has been set among several stakeholders active in the water sector. A scientific committee named “Water and Science” was set up by the Region and involves several institutions based in the territory, such as the Mediterranean Agronomic Institute of Bari, the National Research Council, the Regional Agency for Environmental Protection, the River Basin Authority of Puglia and the Apulian Acqueduct. In Puglia there are 4 technological districts and 15 productive districts, some of them dealing with water related issues.
Water actors in Puglia Region
The Mediterranean Agronomic Institute of Bari (IAM Bari)The Mediterranean Agronomic Institute of Bari (IAM Bari) is an international Centre for post-graduate training, applied scientific research and promoter of partnership action in the framework of the international cooperation programs, capacity building activities, with a long experience in the Mediterranean basin.
The National Research Council (CNR)The National Research Council (CNR) is a public organization whose duty is to carry out, promote, spread, transfer and improve research activities in the main sectors of knowledge growth and of its applications for the scientific, technological, economic and social development.
The Apulian AqueductThe Apulian Aqueduct (Acquedotto Pugliese) is one of the most impressive and exemplary hydraulic engineering systems in the world for its size and capacity. The Acquedotto Pugliese Company (SPA) is responsible for managing a network of 21,000 kilometers (30 times the length of the Po river), just over 10,000 km of sewerage networks and treatment plants 182.
The Euro-Mediterranean Center on Climate ChangeThe Euro-Mediterranean Center on Climate Change, an integrated, multi-disciplinary research institute as regards Climate Change
Autorità Idrica PuglieseAutorità Idrica Pugliese, which is the regional Authority managing the public government of water.
Regional UniversitiesRegional Universities:
- Politecnico di Bari
- Università di Bari Università di Lecce
- Università di Foggia..