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Hydrogeological risk: causes, consequences and measures

Hydrogeological risk: causes, consequences and measures


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Landslides, avalanches, floods… when we talk about hydrogeological risk what exactly are we referring to? With the term hydrogeological risk it indicates the dangerousness of the instability of slopes or river courses as a result of particular environmental, meteorological and climatic conditions, three factors strongly influenced by human activities. Human impact strongly influences the geological and geomorphological conformation of the soil, so a certain number of human activities was followed by an increase in hydrogeological risk especially in some municipalities of Italy.

The causes of the increase in hydrogeological risk
As stated, on the one hand the hydrogeological risk it depends on phenomena connected with the nature of the territory, or on the geology and geomorphology of the land and the slopes. It must be said that man has a 360 * influence on nature (and vice versa), thus the hydrogeological risk increases in relation to those human activities that involve the modification of the territory such as the construction of infrastructures such as roads, bridges, railways, buildings, houses ... (there is a lot to investigate about illegal building and the wild overbuilding that is undergoing the Italy) that affect the natural stability of the territory by increasing erosion and soil instability.

The blame for dramatic events such as floods, landslides, floods, avalanches ... cannot be attributed to rainfall "out of the ordinary " which by now, in Italy as in other countries, have become a constant.

Hydrogeological risk in Italy:
68.9 percent of Italian municipalities are ad high hydrogeological risk.

Over 21,551 square kilometers of our country are considered areas a Hydrogeological risk. The risk is divided as follows:
13,760 km2 of landslide risk territory
7,791 km2 of land at risk of flooding

The data we have available today (thanks to the Atlas of Small Municipalities) tell us that there are 5,581 municipalities high hydrogeological risk (about 69% of the total).

There are several regions that present high hydrogeological risk; according to Wikipedia the territory of Campania, Calabria, Piedmont, Sicily and Liguria would live in a high state hydrogeological risk (in particular, high probability of landslides) or would already be interested in conditions of hydrogeological instability, while from the reports released by the Anbi (National Association of Remediation and Irrigation) Emilia Romagna is also high hydrogeological risk. Emilia Romagna would seem to be the most vulnerable region with 3,217 square kilometers.

The damages of the hydrogeological instability
According to Silvio Seno, President of the "Italian Federation of Earth Sciences", from the postwar period to today "In Italy, an average of 5 billion euros are spent every year for material damage caused by natural events, of which 1.2 billion are directly attributable to hydrogeological instability. And this without considering the loss of human lives “.

The damages concern the loss of human life, cultural heritage and architectural beauties, without considering the direct damage both to companies and to the agricultural sector: it is enough to mention the flood of the Modenese in mid-January, the bank of the Secchia river which flooding about 10,000 hectares of cultivated land, a disastrous impact on the already fragile Italian agricultural economy.

Prevent the hydrogeological instability
The aforementioned Anbi is working on developing a proposal for the reduction of hydrogeological risk. Last year, the Plan for the reduction of hydrogeological risk it consisted of 3,342 interventions for a total amount of 7,409 million euros, which could be financed with fifteen-year mortgages as already done for the National Irrigation Plan.

What our country needs is a preventive plan, extraordinary land maintenance work, already requested by various associations and civil societies. With the provision of the hydrogeological risk new jobs would be created with a substantial money saving:
for every million euros spent on the prevention of hydrogeological risk 5 million euros would be saved in terms of damage repair instability (without considering the human lives saved), generating at least seven jobs.

In the photo, the damage caused by the Sestri Ponente flood. Genoa, 2010

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  • Flow of a river


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