Interview with Raffaele Rocco, Pilot Case Study Dora Baltea director of the public services managing water rights and uses.
Dora Baltea is a glacial river basin of almost 4000 km2 with the typical natural attributes of a mountain river. In the last century, the river has been heavily exploited in support of economic growth and urban expansion, in particular through the building of hundreds of hydropower plants, increasingly deteriorating the river ecological potential.
In the Aosta Valley, the SPARE challenge is to support the regional Water Protection Plan updating procedure, developing a quantitative assessment approach to the compatibility among water withdrawals and different ecosystem services (environmental conservation, landscape protection, water tourism, agriculture and angling). The process is increasingly incorporating stakeholder participation.
Raffaele Rocco is the director of the public services managing water rights and uses for the SPARE Project Dora Baltea Pilot Case Study.
In the framework of the updating of the regional Water Protection Plan a public participation process is currently ongoing: what are the most interesting elements of this process (involved actors, motivations, results, etc.)?
For the updating of the regional Water Protection Plan, a procedure involving as much as possible citizens, but above all the so-called stakeholders, those who are interested in the water resources management and use, has been chosen.
This participation process, therefore, has involved different actors who have attended and continue to attend organised meetings such as forums and technical conferences, in order to discuss various issues, but above all to offer their own contribution in terms of experience, knowledge, and also need to identify challenges in order to finally have a planning document that complies with different stakeholders’ actual needs and especially supporting water resources management in a way shared by everyone.
What kind of impact do you expect from the participation process?
Involving citizens in water resources management, and generally in all the administration’s activities, is a key aspect, since only in this way it is possible to understand real needs and avoid imposing decisions that do not solve existing or perceived problems, or even creating problems when not needed.
Do you think it is important to involve citizens in watercourses and water resource management? Why?
In the field of water resources and rivers management this is very significant, due to the importance of rivers and, in particular, of the water resource as a system of drinking water provision and of waste disposal; citizens should be aware of river protection and the importance of rivers, both in everyday life and especially in terms of environmental aspects, recently revalued in public perception due to the increasing use of watercourses banks and of paths along the watercourses.
Which is the added value of participation in the management of Aosta Valley rivers and streams?
The Aosta Valley, as a mountain environment, is characterized by streams, glaciers and springs, and therefore by a strong presence of watercourses which, over the centuries, have not only shaped the territory but have also characterized the social evolution. Traditions and habits concerning water are many and diversified. Their promotion, also from a management point of view, becomes an important element at this time of climate change, when the water resource is becoming a more and more valuable resource to be protected as the demand becomes increasingly important, both in terms of water resource and in terms of river ecosystem use.
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