Calabria chooses Arrical as its sole water and waste manager

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How can municipal finances be freed from the burden of water and waste management? How can we provide territories with industrial operators capable of consolidating skills, expressing economies of scale, increasing the quality of service and increasing investments based on the best European experiences?

The Calabria Region responds with Arrical, a new area body, to which the municipalities transfer services for the integrated management of water and separate waste collection. An authority that also receives the appreciation of the European Union. Represented by almost all the Calabrian municipalities (to date 90%, but the local administrations are all obliged to join by law), the authority carries out planning, organization and control functions on the management of services, structuring the system in optics of the circular economy and savings, with tariffs based on the principle of “the polluter pays”. The commissioner is Bruno Gualtieri who, with the area board of directors (made up of 40 representatives of the municipalities), approves the intervention plans, takes decisions relating to the organizational models and the methods of awarding the integrated water service and the service of the integrated waste. «Not all municipalities have understood that with Arrical they acquire a function on a regional scale – explains the commissioner – for this reason, for those who do not join spontaneously, we are forced to proceed with the administration of commissioners». Moreover, with regional law no. 10/2022 for the reorganization of the organization of public environmental services, local authorities can no longer manage the services autonomously, but in an aggregate form, for example organizing the management of water “on basis of optimal territorial areas”. Therefore, no overlap with other local authorities.

For the management of the integrated water cycle, the operational arm of the authority is Sorical, the Region’s in-house company. It risked bankruptcy, also due to the difficulties of the municipalities in collecting the tariffs: they invoice 160 million but receive half of it. Thus, the European Commission granted Sorical, thanks to its long experience in the management of regional aqueducts, 109.9 million, providing the company with resources for urgent and immediate liquidity needs until the end of 2023. The Commission, in a note , stressed that its service cannot currently be replaced by another dealer. And that the aid takes the form of a loan for a company restructuring plan.

Sorical has started a long list of interventions for the implementation of the integrated water service, starting from Reggio Calabria: «We are working on two tracks, one administrative and the other technical – states the general director Giovanni Paolo Marati -. In the first case, our efforts are aimed at normalizing the administrative phase, i.e. reading, invoicing and collection, also to put citizens in a position to pay actual and non-estimated consumption. For this reason, the company is equipping itself with modern commercial and technical user management software. An investment is also underway to acquire remote control and regulation systems for the remote management of tanks and network sections. The objective is to improve the quality of the service.”

It’s about rationalizing and making the old networks more efficient, which hasn’t been worked on for many decades, starting from 15 million resources made available by the Region. «In 2024 we will also deal with the transfer of the management of the sewerage-purification system – adds Marati – in order to complete the management of the entire integrated water service of the city of Reggio Calabria». With development and cohesion funds, for 60 million, the engineering of the water networks of 60 municipalities with populations exceeding 10 thousand inhabitants is underway. And the company awaits the outcome of the remodulation of a second window of the Pnrr for a tender worth over 30 million with which to instead engineer municipalities with over 5 thousand inhabitants.

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