There is not only the unpredictability ofatmospheric event at the basis of what happened in the Marche between Thursday 15 and Friday 16 September. But also the lack of prevention. Lamination tanks, that is basins to accommodate the waves of floods of rivers or canals, already conceived in the 80s and never built, bridges with piles that obstruct the passage of water and failure to clean the waterways are some of the elements that they contributed to the flood that caused, at the moment, the death of 9 people and missing, as well as the destruction of entire centers, such as Cantiano, and the devastation of houses and production activities on the ground floor.
The I think so that overflows, rivers of mud in the streets and, the next morning, citizens “at work” with shovels and boots, are not in fact new images for the areas between the province of Ancona and Pesaro Urbino. The memory of the flood of 2014 is still alive. Yet since then, he denounces Piero Farabollinipresident of the Order of geologists of the Marche and professor of Geomorphology at the University of Camerino, the interventions identified to “mitigate the hydrogeological risk” remained “dead letter“. And so, once again, the Marches found themselves having to think about an emergency that has already occurred rather than prevent.
Cleaning of the riverbeds, construction of the basins and interventions on the bridges all depend on the Marche Region, explains the geologist, commissioner for reconstruction after the earthquake in central Italy in 2016 for two years. “But the new council found itself faced with one gangrenous situation over the years with situations even close to collapse “, he specifies.
IlFattoquotidiano.it tried to reach the Councilor for Civil Protection of the Marche Region by telephone, Stephen Sharpbut without receiving a reply.
Cleaning the river – The first “easy” job, which can be considered ordinary maintenance, is cleaning the riverbed, in this case of the Misa, the course that caused the greatest damage. An activity that, says the mayor of Senigallia, Massimo Olivetti, elected in 2020 at the head of a center-right coalition after years of administration of the center-left, “we asked the Region to do”, along with other interventions and which, in fact, he assures, “about 7 -8 months ago “. “The last piece of the river was missing”, the one that crosses the city, which “was planned”, explains Olivetti speaking to Fatto.it.
However, according to Olivetti, even if completed, the cleaning would not have prevented the disaster. But certainly, as Farabollini also makes us understand, he would have mitigated. “The vegetation that grows in the riverbed represents a danger”, he still says to Fatto.it, also underlining the influence of drought in this situation. “In our rivers with shallows we find nothing but riverbeds transformed into expanses of trees – he explains – because precisely where the water level drops, the fluvial sediment remains and vegetation takes root, resulting in green islands”. Islands which then, when flooded, obstruct the normal flow of water.
The piles of the bridges – Also bridge piers that cross different points of the Misa may have influenced the normal flow of water, confirms al Fatto.it the president of the Order of Geologists. “After the flood of 2014 I felt it was a priority to remove the batteries from the bridge on June 2 – he explains to us on the phone Maurizio Mangialardi, former dem mayor of Senigallia who drove the city eight years ago during the last flood – There were also resources for the Garibaldi bridge, the regional council should have done it first ”, but it was not like that. In fact, today, the current mayor still tells us, they are there three more bridges to which “the pylons” that act as a kind of plug should be removed: the Garibaldi bridge, the one that passes over the state road and the “railway” bridge. “We were worried because a lot of material had stopped on the Garibaldi, we feared that the bridges would be carried away by the flood, but it did not happen”, says relieved Olivetti who, however, reiterates that it is the Region that has economic and intervention skills on the riverbed.
One “political blame “as defined by the leader of the opposition in the City Council, the exponent dem Dario Romano, also referring to the other statements of Olivetti who, several times during the day, reiterated that “there was no weather alert”. “The fact that there are no pylons inevitably helps the flow of water and increases run-off times, timber and other materials flow. In the other bridges there is this work to be done and it was necessary to obtain the same funds obtained for the bridge of 2 June – attacked Romano reached by telephone – Biblical times also depend on a lack of pulse of the mayor as well as on the bureaucracy ”.
The basin upstream of the mouth of the Misa – It is precisely the bureaucracy that helps to block the main work which, experts and administrators agree, would have mitigated the flooding: the Bettolelle rolling tank (whose project today provides for the division into two different tanks). The large reservoir to be built upstream of the town of Senigallia, would be used in the event of a flood to “store” the water, thus lightening the river. The water would then be re-emitted into the river at full pass. The imposing work, however, has yet to see the light since 1982, Mangialardi tells us again.
The works, after 40 years of projects, actually started last February, but never finished. The responsability? Difficult to identify a single “scapegoat”. L’district basin authority of the Central Apennines“Which guarantees that community obligations are respected” has the task of drawing up “district plans”, but then “the implementation of what is decided is a regional competence”, he explains to Fatto.it the geologist Mario Smargiasso manager of the sub-district sector for the Marche Region of the public body..
But in the case of the Bettolelle tank, the process ran aground several times. “The work was financed with Fio funds – says Smargiasso – A very large sum was allocated, it was planned and in the early 90s the project was blocked because it was not in line with environmental awareness”. Then, later, the project was taken up again, “but in the meantime the funds allocated had a lower concrete value because the costs had increased”. To this were added “urbanistic vicissitudes” and, again, “the Delrio law”. “The funding was granted to the province of Ancona – clarifies Smargiasso – But in the meantime the functions regarding state property water have passed to the Region which, however, in practice, did not have the funds granted to the province”.CopyAMP code
In addition to the “practical” vicissitudes, they also affect the long term bureaucratic problems, points out Farabollini. “In Italy we have constraints linked to landscaping, then there are expropriations, environmental impact assessments and, again, the identification of companies – he specifies – There is a long bureaucratic and technical administrative process that requires important efforts from those who design , by administrators and by the community “. And this “takes a very long time”.
And not only. As he explains to us Andrea Storoni, former mayor of Ostra, one of the municipalities most affected by the flood, it is not always easy to start consultation paths involving “municipalities, associations and ‘stakeholders’”. Without forgetting, he says as a former local administrator, that “the Regions are boulders, the path is very slow because it is cumbersome, they are slow entities and everything slows down”.
The need for a rolling basin, the former commissioner for reconstruction tells us, had emerged in an important way even after the flood of 2014, together with the need to “mitigate the hydrogeological risk” with a “re-profiling of the embankments” as well as ” maintenance interventions “. “Definitely one basin of lamination would have mitigated what happened – he explains – If the planned tanks had already been in operation, the Misa would not have overflowed. He would have lightly overflowed but Not the mode how is happened“. From 2016, the year in which the interventions were identified together with the Basin Authority, until today, the former Commissioner still denounces, “little has been done in terms of prevention”.
Prevention – Yet, Farabollini points out, precisely the prevention should be the first “weapon“Against the changes climatic. “We have to get used to these situations of high rainfall because the rainfall regime has changed – he continues – They are no longer distributed. The 800 mm of rain that usually fall in the hilly and coastal areas of the Marche distributed in a year are gone. Today 400 mm of rain fell in a few hours, the regime has changed. Our cities are not organized in such a way as to allow a rapid flow of water and so we will also find ourselves in similar situations in the future ”.
“We hope this event makes us think. We must also intervene with a different urban planning – concludes the geologist – there are plans for climate adaptation of the municipalities, for example Senigallia has one of 2018. But what the plan provides has not been implemented “.
Mangialardi also hopes for a change of pace in the face of such extreme weather events: “For us, a wound has reopened for the events of 2014. There is a need to really invest, knowing that what has been done so far is not enough given the change in the climate approach “.
The flood, concludes the current mayor Olivetti, “is a way to make everyone think”, not only the Region “but also the State”.