The Medio Brenta area, which extends along the course of the river Brenta between Vicenza and Padua, is recognised at a European level and included in the Natura 2000 network for its environmental and cultural importance. The area is also strategic for providing various ecosystem services, including drinking water: it is the most crucial source of water supply in the Veneto region.
However, the Middle Brenta requires complex management due to the number and variety of entities involved. The area also faces water conservation and biodiversity risks due to high water withdrawals, anthropisation, intensive agricultural land use, high recreational use and the effect of climate change.
LIFE Brenta 2030, a project funded by the LIFE – Nature and Biodiversity Programme of the European Union, will address the following set of problems affecting the fluvial area of the Middle-Brenta:
The results of our commitment
Governance: a shared vision for the future of the Middle Brenta area
Through the involvement of the 15 local municipalities, the LIFE Brenta 2030 project developed a model of good governance for the Medio Brenta, focusing on three fundamental elements of the area: water, biodiversity and recreational aspects.
Working on the three components of governance according to our GRAN approach, we achieved the following results:
- Institutional governance: The assignment to the Consiglio di Bacino Brenta, formerly the governing body of the Integrated Water Service (IWT), of the management delegation of the Natura 2000 site “Grave e zone umide del Brenta” (first case in Italy).
- Functional governance: The integration of the conservation measures for the protection of the Natura 2000 site “Grave e Zone Umide del Brenta” in the programme of interventions of the Area Plan.
- Economic governance: The definition of a financing scheme for the integrated management of the Natura 2000 site includes a tariff component (Environmental and Resource Costs, ERC) and other public and private financing.
An innovative financing mechanism: the internalisation of ERCs in the tariff water tariff
A Payment for Ecosystem Services has been developed, tested and implemented to protect biodiversity and conserve water resources. The mechanism compensates for the negative environmental impacts caused by water consumption by end users, according to the polluter/user pays principle.
The mechanism is based on the identification, at the basin level, of so-called Environmental and Resource Costs (ERC).
Mitigation and compensation for these costs can be integrated into the water tariff, generating a sustainable and fair funding source for biodiversity and water conservation in the Brenta.
A replicable methodology
To enable this integration, a standard and replicable methodology has been developed that includes:
- The analysis of impacts and pressures on and by the IIS (Integrated Water Service), such as impacts on groundwater and biodiversity and pressures from the agricultural and industrial sectors;
- The definition of Nature-Based Solutions (NBS) is capable of preventing such impacts. This includes, for example, hedges, thickets, Infiltration Forest Areas, and organic and conservation agriculture.
- The adjustment of tariff items to include the costs associated with these measures in the water tariff.
This methodology was then applied by including one million euros of environmental mitigation measures in the Area Plan by valorising them as ERC. The tariff proposal was then approved by ARERA, making this case an absolute innovation at a national level.
For more information on the LIFE Brenta 2030 project and its results, you can visit www.parcofiumebrenta.it and consult the publication “Drinking Water and the Environment: Towards a Zero Impact Water Service”.
Etifor, as a promoter of the initiative and ETRA, handled the technical research and development activities and the animation, consultation and training in the area.
The project is now in its replication phase: do you manage an area where water is a crucial resource, and would you like to improve its management? We are looking for water utilities or supervising bodies with which to adapt and apply this methodology. If you are interested, please get in touch with us.
If you are more interested in governance aspects, discover our service.