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Sarno is the most polluted river in Europe

Sarno is the most polluted river in Europe

Italy

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  • A New Environmental Hostpot of River Pollution in Italy

    Known in ancient times as the Sarnus, the Italian river Sarno today leads the ranking of the most polluted rivers in Europe. It originates on the slope of Vesuvius and flows through Pompeii to Naples, and into the Tyrrhenian Sea. The Sarno River has for centuries served as the waterway of southern Italy, and today its importance in the region is quite great. It is a pity that much of its course is polluted with huge amounts of industrial and agricultural waste, dumping in the water more every year. The river carries its muddy waters into the Gulf of Naples, which in turn poses a threat to the marine environment.
  • The importance of the Sarno River

    It is difficult to overestimate the importance of water systems in human life. The Sarno River is no exception. It plays a very important role, starting from ancient times when only the development of various territories began. People have always settled near bodies of water. Today, on the banks of the Sarno River stand huge cities and small towns that directly depend on its condition. The main importance of the Sarno River includes:
    
    1. A source of fresh water.
    Mankind uses more than 3.5 km3 of water per year, and this figure continues to grow. Rivers account for a large share. The Sarno River is the basis of the water supply for cities and other human settlements in Italy.
    
    2. Agriculture.
    Fresh water is necessary for irrigating crops and raising livestock.
    
    3. In industry.
    The largest industrial enterprises stand on river bodies of water, using their resources in working processes.
    
    4. Transportation routes.
    Shipping is very important to every nation. The bulk of Europe's rivers (including the Sarno River) is important transportation routes that carry not only cargo but also carry people.
    
    5. Energy.
    Powerful hydroelectric power plants are built on large water systems, providing energy to cities and businesses.
    
    6. Recreational resources.
    Rivers are often used to restore people's physical and spiritual well-being. Medical and recreation centers are built on their banks; exciting river cruises are taken on them.
    
    7. Fishery.
    The Sarno is an important source of commercial fish.
  • Causes of pollution in the Sarno River

    According to the report of the Parliamentary Commission, the severe level of degradation of the Sarno River basin is the result of a combination of three main types of pollution:
    
    ● Industrial pollution resulting from the lack of treatment of discharges from tanneries, canneries, paper, and pulp mills, printing, and textile industries;
    ● Agrarian pollution resulting from the unrestricted use of chemical fertilizers, phytopharmaceuticals, and herbicides;
    ● Urban pollution resulting from the lack of a sewage network, wasting pipelines, and discharges of untreated waste into the waters of the Sarno River.
  • The ecological condition of the Sarno River

    At the mouth of the Sarno River, the coast is highly degraded and it is forbidden to swim in the water. Since 2003, the Sarno River has been pouring with its waters into the Bay of Naples 54'000 liters per minute of toxic substances and 300'000 colibacilli per deciliter (30 times the official value). Because of the high bacteriological load, these waters can spread typhus, salmonellosis, and viral hepatitis.
    It is sad to think that the same waters, which in the past played a major role as a source of drinking water, indispensable not only for humans but also for animals, irrigation of fields, and for the organisms of the same river, today are a natural drain, which makes it impossible for people to live. 

Timelines

2022

August 30

In recent years, the Italian government has taken measures to help contain the level of pollution by mitigating or eliminating the amount of flow that enters the Sarno River. However, many environmental critics speculate that this action is too little too late.

2020

October 30

CASE Construction Equipment, a global construction equipment brand of CNH Industrial, has been working to help clean up the Sarno river, Europe’s most polluted. The river, which rises at the base of Mt. Sarno, passing through Pompeii and discharging into the Bay of Naples, has been polluted by industrial waste. 

2017

May 27

Activity for dredging of the Sarno river in its section between Scafati and Castellammare and concerning the processing of sediments of the Bottaro affluent have been re-started.
The intervention was funded by a five million € contribution. These resources join the 32 million € funding already set up by commissioner Flavio Cioffi for overcoming problems of the catchment basin of the Sarno river and will make it possible to complete dredging in the whole section of the river as well as the further processing of sediments removed that are approximately 350 thousand tonnes.

2006

May 01

Scientists evaluating water samples from the Sarno River say that the ecological condition of the river basin gives serious cause for concern. The complex geomorphological conditions of the basin have a direct impact on the local environment and public health. The analysis of the available data shows how the physical aspects of the area are closely related to the distribution and concentration of pollutants, and how the latter have a great impact on the sanitary and hygienic conditions of the local population.

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