Waterworks of Florence


The 4th of November 1966 - "Florence was dyingand 90% of the Florentines were still unaware of it. An overcast,stormy dawn broke onto a desert city... Florence's death throes began at a precise moment: 7:26 a.m... over half of the city was at the mercy of the Arno"...

Thus were tersely described in the papers the first dramatic moments of the flooding of that world-famous capital of culture and art, Florence, when the seriously-overflowing Arno River poured into the city at discarge of 4200 m3/s causing widespread death and destruction.

For centuries, Florence and the Arno river have always been considered one and the same thing. In the city itself, the river is shallow and narrow, but ever since the Middle Ages it has been fully utilized in connection with the multivarious activities going on in the city, especially as regards business activity and finely handicrafted products of various kinds.

While it is true that, in 1966, the Florentines had almost forgotten their secular fear of the Arno, flooding of the city has, nonetheless, represented a constant threat that has hung like a curse overthe city for the last 800 years.

The most tragically famous of these events have been the floodsthat occurred in 1177, 1269, 1333, 1557, 1740 and 1844. In each of these cases, the fatal month was the same: November.

The point that was dramatically driven home by the 1966 flooding was that it was time something was done to safeguard Florence against any such future event.

A "pilot" project was then worked out for organically arranging the Arno basin, which represents the first intervention of this kind carried out in Italy.

This project provides for the preservation of the water quality, for making the best use of the water resources, and for protection against floods. Among other things, the project calls for the creation of 11 basins, the arrangement of the river bed and the construction of a subsidiary channel, in order to protect Pisa.

The plan for creating water reservoirs began with the construction of the Bilancino dam, upstream of Florence.

The construction of the works begun in 1984 and was until 1993 under the supervision of the Consorzio Risorse Idriche. At present it is under the direct responsability of the Tuscan Region.

National and - to a lesser degree - regional and municipal capitals are used. Not only Florence, which up to now has sustained 74% of the costs compared to the other communes, but also the following municipalities are sharing in the costs for the realization ofthe works: Pontassieve - Rignano - Bagno a Ripoli - Impruneta- Fiesole - Scandicci - Sesto Fiorentino - Campi Bisenzio - Signa- Lastra a Signa - Calenzano - Prato - Montemurlo - Poggio a Caiano.