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Italians swim in deep waters. But this time it is not about the economic crisis, galloping unemployment, or about taxes that suffocate families. This time it is literally about water, namely that of the sea. Monitored, as every year, by Legambiente and its Goletta Verde.

Every 62 km of coast – according to the surveys of the current summer – there is one polluted spot, often close to free beaches. Responsibility is of the discharges that – through rivers, ditches, and canals – flow into the sea without being first purified. A direct result of the lack of a proper purifying treatment which still concerns 42% of sewage in our country and which could cost Italy a substantial European sanction.

The Goletta has sailed along the Peninsula collecting 266 samples of water and discovering, in 45% of the cases, bacterial loads higher than the limits imposed by the legislation. 120 spots result polluted, half of which close to beaches (free in most cases). 49% – emphasizes the association – is not sampled by the competent authorities, that is to say, it does not undergo health checks, whereas 38% result bathing waters on the Waters Portal of the Ministry of Health. In only 14 points bathing is banned.

“Depuration deficit is confirmed – explains the scientific responsible of Legambiente, Giorgio Zampetti – by the two sentences that arrived from the European Commission in 2012 and in 2014, and the reasoned opinion of March 2015 which concerns to the third infringement procedure opened against Italy because of its failure to comply with the directive 91/271 regarding the purification of the sewers. Methods that involve one agglomerate out of three”.

Both an environmental and an economic damage: “It is estimated that the EU sanctions amount to 476 million euros a year, from 2016 until the conclusion of works”. Legambiente does not propose a regional classification of marine pollution. Yet, it promotes Sardinia and the upper Adriatic, while Marche, Abruzzo and Sicily are failed. The latter, with 14  polluted samples out of the 26 analysed.

Exists, instead, a ranking with respect to illegality, with 14,542 offenses recorded by the security forces and by the Capitaneria di Porto that concern the sea and the coast in 2014: about 40 per day, 2 per each km of coastline. Puglia has the primacy with 3,164 offenses, followed by Sicily (2,346), Campania with 1,837, and Calabria (1,370). As to infringements detected per km of the coast, Campania is the first one with 3.9, followed by Puglia (3.7), Molise (3.1), Liguria (3) and Marche (2.9). The types of offences, explains the president of Legambiente, Vittorio Cogliati Dezza, “range from illegality in the cement cycle on public waters to sea pollution due to poor purification, sewage, oil pollution, various types of waste spilling, although cases of poaching are registered as well”. Paraphrasing Leopardi, “being shipwrecked is (not) sweet to me in this sea”.

Translated by Ecaterina Severin

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