While discussing who should manage the water service in Italy (privatization yes or no?), The four public companies of the Milanese water service CAP Holding, Ianomi, Tam and Tasm presented the joint project “Casa dell’Acqua”. This is the first website dedicated to the Water Houses, with a census of the structures existing in Italy today and an online magazine to update users on the news of the sector.
The Water Houses were created to promote the service provided by public aqueducts. The peculiarity lies in the fact that the water distributed is chilled and can be natural or sparkling, according to taste, and in most of the municipalities the service is free. There are currently around 200 active plants in all regions and another 50 are close to opening. The diffusion is mainly in the North, in particular in Lombardy and Piedmont, but the phenomenon is also extending in the Center and in the South.
The communication campaigns launched by some large-scale retail brands and bottled water producers in recent days have reopened the controversy over the quality of mains water. The success of the Case dell’Acqua is one answer. Just think of the record numbers of the Sesto San Giovanni plant: 6,800 liters per day delivered on certain dates in July, and an annual average of 4,000 liters per day.
“The mistaken belief that mains water is of series B is still too widespread in Italy: this is not the case” underlines Alessandro Ramazzotti, president of CAP Holding. “I want to underline that the qualitative analyzes carried out by us are much more frequent than those foreseen for bottled water”. Not only: for the president of Tam, Giuseppe Viola «If we think that less than 20% of water bottles sold in Italy travel by rail, it is easy to understand the density of trucks in circulation on the roads. The water from the aqueduct, on the other hand, is a natural eco-pass, which costs nothing ».
On the website www.casadellacqua.com it is possible to consult the map of all the distribution points with information on location, times, methods of access and quantity of water distributed by the modern heirs of the ancient fountains. You will be able to discover the nice architectural typologies adopted in the various municipalities, the peculiarities of each structure, analyze the advantages associated with the use of tap water. It will also be possible to browse and download monthly an online newspaper, Casa acqua Magazine , anticipated in the newsletter.
Tap water is gaining ground
Less plastic produced and to be disposed of, fewer trucks on the street to transport bottles, less damage to the environment in terms of CO2 emissions and. More money in the wallet. This explains the fact that, in the last 4 years, 7 million Italians have chosen to go back to drinking tap water, according to a survey by Cra Nielsen for Aqua Italia (Association of manufacturers of systems and components for the treatment of civil and industrial primary water of Anima / Confindustria).
But the road is long: one in three Italians still does not trust tap water (Istat data – Yearbook of environmental indicators 2007). Thus, we buy 12.5 billion liters of bottled water (195 liters per person, the inhabitants of the Arab Emirates beat us with 260 liters and Mexico with 205) per year (Beverfood Report data; 2009-2010). And this despite the convenience of home water, the fact that it is checked often and the considerable savings: on average tap water costs 0.5 thousandths of a euro per liter, mineral water about 1,000 times more (Eurispes estimates, Italy Report 2008).
From an environmental point of view, 12.5 billion liters of bottled water involved the use of approximately 365,000 tons of PET, a consumption of 693,000 tons of oil and the emission of 950,000 tons of CO2 into the atmosphere. Only 35% of plastic packaging is collected separately and sent for recycling: the remaining 65% ends up in landfills or energy recovery. There is more than 18% of mineral water bottles travel by rail, the remaining 82% travel on Tir with consequent consumption of diesel and production of CO and fine dust.
With regard to water controls, there are precise regulations (two legislative decrees, 31 of 2001 and 27 of 2002), both internal (of the water service manager) and external (of the ASL) controls. There are 62 quality parameters (chemical-physical and bacteriological) that must be respected. Then there are routine and verification analyzes and the Local Health Authorities can provide for greater control frequencies based on the size of the aqueduct, the vulnerability of the sources, the number of plants…. For mineral waters, according to the decree of 29 December 2003, it is envisaged that concession holders must carry out water analyzes once a year, even if the sources generally do many more.
The advantages of the Water Houses
* Each Casa dell’Acqua dispenses an average of 2500 liters per day, which corresponds to approximately 1700 1.5-liter plastic bottles.
* In a year, therefore, about 620 thousand bottles are not used by withdrawing water from the Water Houses.
* In the number of heavy vehicles circulating for the transport of the packages, this means 65 fewer trucks on roads and motorways.
* By purchasing supplies from a Water House every year, we avoid producing (and disposing of) 20 tons of PET and, consequently, we save 35 tons of oil and 300 cubic meters of water.
* We have not released into the atmosphere: 30 tons of carbon dioxide (CO2), 350 kilograms of carbon monoxide (CO).
* The Case dell’Acqua in recent years have also become a point of information and aggregation, a place for socializing, exchanging information and promoting the culture of water saving. Here meetings are organized, appointments and themed events are promoted