BURANA LAND RECLAMATION BOARD – MODENA, ITALY
Vittorio Emanuele II, 107 Str.
41121 Modena MO Italy
Ph.: +39 059 416.511
The main activities of the Burana Land-Reclamation Board are in the field of:
- WATER DRAINAGE;
- WATER SUPPLY;
- SOIL CONSERVATION.
The Burana Land-Reclamation Board operates over a land district coinciding with the drainage basin of the River Panaro, from the Tuscan-Emilian Apennines to the River Po. Its main activities regard the conservation and safeguard of the territory, with particular attention to water resources and their use, ensuring water drainage from urban centres and farming areas and water supply throughout the area under its management.
Today the total area under the Board's management is 242,521 hectares, within one of the most fertile zones of the Po Plain which is characterised by technologically advanced farming practices and strategic industrial districts. Furthermore, several environmentally important wetlands are located in this district, where many rare species of plants, birds and animals can be found. The water supply of these protected areas is guaranteed by our Board.
The region of Emilia-Romagna, where Burana mainly operates, consists of nine provinces and covers an area of 22,452,8 km². Nearly half of the region consists of plains, whereas 25% is hilly and 25% mountainous. About half of the region consists of the Po Plain, an extremely fertile alluvial plain crossed by the river Po. The plain was formed by the gradual retreat of the sea from the Po basin and by the sediments deposited by the rivers.
In ancient times the plain area was almost entirely marshland. Through the centuries, its people worked hard to reclaim and reshape the land in order to achieve a better standard of living. In fact, the area where Burana operates has a great tradition of drainage, because it was dominated by water. Nowadays the threat of water has been transformed into opportunities by the action of the Land-Reclamation Boards. At present Emilia-Romagna is considered one of the richest European regions and the fourth Italian region by GDP per capita (Istat, 2012 year) with an important balance between agriculture and industry. Indeed, in spite of the great variety of industrial activities in this region, the importance of agriculture has not been eclipsed and Emilia-Romagna is among the leading regions in the country.
Land-Reclamation Boards were first established as co-partnerships of private individuals in order to reclaim marshy and barren soils by turning them into fertile productive areas. Subsequently, by preserving and improving the drainage patterns, flooding and stagnant areas were avoided. Lastly, their task was to provide irrigation water wherever necessary.
After the unification of Italy the State decided to grant the management of reclamation works to Land-Reclamation Boards, acknowledging the benefits brought about not only to single farming areas but to the population in general.
In Italy the Land-Reclamation Boards are proud of its tradition dating back many centuries. The Italian State recognised the public utility of reclamation works only after the disastrous floods of the River Po and decided to entrust these activities directly to Land-Reclamation Boards, whose institution was favoured all over the country. To date in Italy there are about 140 Land-Reclamation Boards, although a recent re-arrangement process based on drainage basins has led to the unification of some boards in several regions, among which our own.
Although syndicate activities were initially limited to works for improving water drainage, subsequently the authority of the syndicates was extended to water supply works, construction of roads and the implementation of activities finalised to efficient management of the territory, regarding, in particular, soil conservation and environmental, social, economic and health aspects.
For this purpose, funding, division of expenses and technical norms regulating general plans were defined in detail. In this way, these complex factors were controlled at all levels.
At first the land-reclamation syndicates depended directly on the Ministry for Public Works, then on the Ministry for Agriculture. In the 1970s, however, the role of the State concerning agriculture, public works and soil conservation was transferred to the Regions.
Today the land-reclamation syndicates operate directly under the control of their respective regions.
Nowadays the Burana Land-Reclamation Board relies on many important works for the defence of the territory, including:
- 52 water-scooping plants and pumping stations,
- 28 drainage locks,
- about 2,200 km of canals,
- 17 cask siphons,
- over 3,000 check dams,
- 1 flood control device,
- 67 remote sensing stations.
Every year the Burana Land-Reclamation Board channels over 600 million cubic metres of water for irrigation and drainage.
In particular, in the plain areas the Burana Land-Reclamation Board mainly attends to:
- safeguard of the territory: maintenance of canals, river-bank conservation and slope stabilization, removal of deposits, surveillance and monitoring of surface waters. In addition, every day Burana collects data from its own remote sensing hydro-pluviometric gauges and from numerous meteorological stations, combining them with the data collected by other boards operating in the same district in order to act promptly in emergency situations.
- Water supply: works for adaptation and rearrangement of water pumping plants. Design and construction of new plants, canals and hydraulic structures.
Furthermore, Burana operates for the conservation of the environment and the appraisal of water resources by the realization and maintenance of wetlands for the protection of rare species. It also adopts re-naturalization projects with the implementation of green buffer zones along the canals. For all interventions of its own competence, such as weed control, Burana makes use of eco-compatible techniques.
Burana operates also in the hill and mountain district, by means of field surveys in order to assess the state of the watercourses, the hydraulic works and the slopes’ disarray conditions. These monitoring activities aim to identify risk situations, thanks also to information contributed by local boards and private individuals. In this way, it is possible to compile lists of priority interventions and have access to the funds available.
Therefore, the main activities carried out by Burana in the hill and mountain district are as follows:
- Maintenance of the surface hydraulic network: keeping water drainage efficient by means of the periodic cutting back of overgrowing vegetation and removal from the riverbed and the banks of material that hinder the regular flow of water, causing disarray processes.
- Ordinary and extraordinary maintenance of over 3,000 hydraulic works (adaptation, rearrangement, partial or total reconstruction, etc.).
- Planning and construction of new hydraulic works, such as check dams and other structures for bank protection.
- Slope stabilization interventions by means of collection and regularization of surface (open drainage ditches) and subsurface waters (drains, seals conduits) and realization of earth support works.
- Minor roads maintenance (scarp consolidation, minor road repairs, etc.).
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