Summary of the remunicipalization of the water service in Italia

What happened after the water referendum in Italy?

After the referendum victory, a tenacious battle for its application and the remunicipalization of the water service was initiated.

The Constitutional Court judgement 199/2012 (July 20, 2012)

On August 13 2011, the Berlusconi government approved the Decree Law 138/2011, which substantially reintroduced the same rules that the referendum had repealed. One year later, the Constitutional Court cancelled this Decree Law as unconstitutional.

Attempt to subject "Aziende speciali" (public bodies managing services of general interest) and "in-house S.p.A." (public joint stock companies) to the internal stability pact. As is evident, forcing public bodies to respect the Stability Pact means to greatly reduce their possibility to invest in the service and therefore encouraging the process of privatization.

The intervention of the Authority for Electricity and Gas (December 28, 2012)

Referring to the issues related to the second referendum question, the so-called decree "Save Italy" transferred the functions of regulation and control of water services to the Authority for Electricity and Gas”.

On 28th December 2012, the Authority for Electricity and Gas approved the Resolution 585/2012 which introduced the Transient Tariff Method (TTM) for the determination of tariffs in 2012 and 2013. By adopting the full cost recovery system and including it in the recovery of cost of capital, the new method still guarantees the shareholders a standard percentage of return on the invested capital, basically re-introducing the previous mechanism.

The opinion of the State Council on the Elimination of return on invested capital (January 25, 2013)

On 25th January 2013, the State Council approved Opinion No. 267, which states that the repeal of the 7% of return on capital invested had an immediate effect starting from the 21st July 2011, that is the date of enactment of the referendum. This opinion clearly supports the arguments put forward by the Italian Forum of Water Movements immediately after the referendum victory.

The judgment of the Tuscan local Court (“Tar” of Tuscany) on return on invested capital (March 21, 2013)

By approving the judgment No. 426/2013, the Tar of Tuscany accepted the appeal submitted by the Tuscan Forum of Water Movements establishing that the rates approved by the former Tuscan ATO2 on the 6th December 2011 are illegal because they still include the "return on invested capital".

The Campaign of Civil Obedience

The campaign of "civil obedience" was conceived and promoted by the Italian Forum of Water Movements in autumn 2011 and consists of applying a self-reduction in water bills starting form 21 July 2011. This reduction is equivalent to the tariffs component of the "return on invested capital".

This campaign has been defined as a campaign of "civil obedience" because its aim is not to "disobey" an unjust law, but to "obey" the law modified by the popular will through the referendum and thus, currently in force.

A few months ago many water companies, in different parts of Italy, have put in place disconnections for non-payment, for those who can not pay the bill or who have joined the Campaign of Civil Obedience; this is opening a new battle.

The ongoing remunicipalization processes in Italy

After two years of continuous attacks to the referendum outcome, one could think that the struggle for the social re-appropriation of water is only a “defensive” battle. Nothing could be more distant from reality.

If one year ago, the only concrete result of the Water Movement action was the conversion, in Naples, of the Public Joint Stock Sompany (ARIN S.p.A.) into a “Public Body” ("Acqua Bene Comune Napoli- Water Commons Naples), today many processes of remunicipalization are happening across the country.

Imperia. This could be considered an exemplary case, mainly because the results are largely derived from a positive and constructive synergy between the network "Local Authorities for Public Water" and the local Public Water Committee.

Savona. The privatization project, which seemed to proceed very fast and without encountering any obstacles, on the contrary was stopped in the Provincial Council: the supposed majority supporting privatization failed the vote test.

Turin. Since July 2012 a lively confrontation between the Water as a Common Good Committee and the Mayor began. The game is still being played out.

Varese. Also in the area of Varese, a vast group of local Mayors participated in the seminar on the “Public Bodies for water management” promoted in September 2012 by the Water as aCommon Good Committee, first as "listeners", but then actively working together with the citizens of the Committee.

Piacenza. At the beginning of 2013, the expiry of the concession to the Joint Stock Company Iren opened the opportunity for setting up a participatory process aimed at verifying the feasibility of the remunicipalization of the water service.

Reggio Emilia. The Statute of the Municipality of Reggio Emilia has officially incorporated the outcome of the referendums. Currently, the Municipality is debating which specific form of new water management the institution should adopt.

Forlì. A provincial "roundtable" will elaborate a plan for the detachment of "Romagna Waters" from the Multi-Utility Hera. The local committees for public water will be involved in this table.

Palermo. On April 4, the Municipal Council approved a resolution, which established the transformation of the Joint Stock Company AMAP S.p.A. into a Public Body.

Pistoia. Since some months ago, a large group of movements and local authorities are working on the possibility of remunicipalization. The Mayors of Pistoia, Prato, Vernio, Poggio a Caiano, Agliana, Quarrata and many Mayors of the Municipalities of the Valdarno area are taking part in this "roundtable".