Italian legislation on water

In the ‘70s, with the Legge Merli, was perceived for the first time the exigency to indicate in detail polluting substances posing limits to their discharge into water and their concentration regulating the topic of discharges.
The D.P.R. 236/88 is the first example of the enforcement of a Community Directive (Directive 80/778 EEC regarding the quality of water destined for human use) from the Italian State. This law regulates the quality of water destined for human consumption and defines maximum allowable concentration (MAC) and guideline values (GV) for different chemical and microbiological parameters, indicated by the law itself. Moreover, it establishes protected areas for water resources distinguishing between complete preservation areas, areas of respect and areas of protection.
Law N. 36 of January 5, 1994 (the so-called Galli Law) regarding provisions concerning water resources establishes that all superficial and subterranean water is public and human consumption is overriding other forms of consumption. In Italy with this law has been launched a substantial modernization and reorganization process of the hydric sector. The establishment of the Optimal Territorial Ambits (ATO) and Responsible Authority for each ATO has introduced a subject regulating alone the management of all public services of collection, adduction and distribution of water for civil uses, sewage and purification of waste water.
But it’s only Draft Law N. 152 of May 11, 1999 “Dispositions on the safeguard of water from pollution and enforcement of Directive 91/271/EEC concerning the treatment of urban waste water and Directive 91/676/EEC regarding the protection of water from pollution caused by nitrates coming from agricultural sources” that establishes an organic legislation on water regulation. This decree and its following integrations consist of a draft law aiming to preserve all water (superficial, marine and subterranean) to prevent and reduce pollution, enforcing recovery of polluted water bodies, gaining an improvement of the state of water and pursuing sustainable, long-lasting uses of water resources. This law envisages a distribution of competencies at central (State) and peripheral (Regions, Provinces, etc.) levels of the state and a system of administrative and criminal fines to guarantee the respect of the legislation.
With regards to discharges, the decree identifies three types of waste water, industrial, domestic and urban, establishing for each of them a different type of control. Discharges are differentiated in:

  • discharges on the soil, banned except particular exceptions;
  • discharges in the subsoil and subterranean waters, generally banned, even if there are exceptions prior authorization;
  • discharges in superficial water, differently regulated according to their type.

All discharges must be authorized allocating jurisdiction to the release of authorizations from Provinces except for discharges from public sewage system which require authorization of controlling bodies.
Draft Law of February, 2 2001 (enforced on December 25, 2003) in implementation of Directive 98/83/EEC on the quality of water destined for human consumption, substitutes and partly modifies Draft Law 236/88, eliminating the concept of guideline values and maximum allowable concentration and introducing parameter values. Finally, within Draft Law N. 152 of April 2006 that contains different laws concerning environmental safeguard, an important part is dedicated to water preservation from pollution and management of water resources. The targets of water preservation from pollution are prevention and reduction of pollution of polluted water bodies as well as their recovery; protection of water destined for specific uses; pursuing of sustainable uses of water resources and maintaining natural self-purification capacities of water bodies.

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