The Tuscan multi-utility that will manage water, waste and gas was presented | Environment
On 26 January, the first multi-utility in Tuscany was officially born at the Palazzo dei Congressi in Florence. In the presence of a notary, in front of a large audience of journalists, the merger deed was in fact signed which, in sanctioning the union of the previous service management companies (Alia, Publiservizi, Consiag and Acqua Toscana), generated a new holding which will operate in the sectors of the environment, the integrated water cycle and energy.
The corporate company it is currently made up of the Municipalities of Florence (37.1%), Prato (18.1%), Pistoia (5.54%), Empoli (3.4%) and others (35.9%); However, as was explained during the press conference, this structure will change in the coming months, given that the multi-utility will also extend to other municipalities. Both the representatives of the four merged companies and the mayors of the main shareholder municipalities have in fact expressed their willingness to work so that the company can have a range of action such as to cover the entire regional territory. It is precisely for this reason that the aforementioned founding deed has been carefully implemented throughout Tuscany, therefore also in the province of Arezzo and in the Valtiberina, where, among other things, this perspective has been discussed and analyzed at the conference on common goods which was held in Sansepolcro on Saturday 21 January (“Water, work waste: prospective focus on common goods“).
On this possible enlargement, the president of Alia, Nicola Ciolini, was particularly clear and explicit, ideally outlining a future path which then, starting from 2024, will lead to the listing on the stock exchange. In fact, therefore, the multi-utility will propose in Tuscany a public service management model similar to the one that has already been promoted in other regions of Northern Italy and which, according to the directors and statutory auditors who spoke during the presentation, will certainly be able to make more efficient services, contain costs thanks to economies of scale generated by the concentration of companies (as reported by the president of Publiservizi, Marco Baldassarri), guarantee greater investments, create new jobs and keep tariffs low.
Overall, therefore, the multi-utility model would ensure virtuous management of the services, leaving 51% of the shares under the direct control of the municipalities: both the mayor of Prato, Matteo Biffoni, and the mayor of Florence, Dario Nardella. The mayor of Pistoia, Alessandro Tomasi, even spoke of the multi-utility, emphasizing how this will be able to guarantee an action of defense against forms of “colonization” that others could arrive through non-Tuscan companies.
Critical voices on the institutional front and on the movements
If the entire presentation was punctuated by evident enthusiasm, the same cannot be said for some reactions that promptly arrived from some committees, associations and other subjects who for months have openly sided against the multi-utility model. On the political and institutional front, Elisa Tozzi, regional councilor of the “Toscana Domani” group, raised a critical voice underlining that the new management model will exclude the mayors from any decision-making prerogative, entrusting this function solely to the managing director: according to Tozzi, within the multi-utility, the municipalities will therefore only be able to limit themselves to exercising a control action, without, however, reaching a resolution the underlying incompatibility which intervenes between the objective of lowering tariffs and that of distributing dividends to shareholders.
Even the world of associations and committees that gravitate around the issue of publicizing water had the opportunity to reiterate their critical position during the conference held on Saturday morning in the Sala Maggiore of the Town Hall of Pistoia (“Water and its protection as a common public good”): the initiative, organized by the “Associazione Acqua Bene Comune Pistoia – Val di Nievole” with the contribution of the “Tuscan Forum of Water Movements” and the “Capit Foundation”, first of all explored the theme of water management illustrating , through Riccardo Petrella (founder of the “International Committee for the World Water Contract”), Tommaso Fattori (former regional councilor) and Luigi De Magistris (former mayor of Naples), what could be a real path to re-publicize the water service.
In addition to this, the interventions of the speakers also underlined how much the multi-utility solution is far from the referendum result of 2011 and from the guidelines expressed by the Tuscan Water Authority. In particular, the works were concluded by the coordinator of the “Tuscan Forum of Water Movements”, Rossella Michelotti, who underlined that the addresses voted in 2018 and 2020 by what is, according to the Regional Law 69 of 2011, the regional body in charge of deciding the resource management model, precisely the Tuscan Water Authority through its Assembly, have been totally ignorant and trampled on by the will of some mayors.
In fact, faced with the resolutions that sanctioned the will of the Tuscan municipalities to re-publicize the management of the water service by reformulating its organization in geographically restricted sub-areas, the parallel path undertaken by the municipalities of Florence, Prato and Pistoia represents thebreak-in of a long democratic process: for this reason, repeating what was already expressed in the previous conference in Sansepolcro, Michelotti expressed his intention to continue, together with the other associations and committees (among which, in addition to those described above, we can mention the “Committee We defend the Nostra Salute Prato Sud”, “Fridays for Future”, “InMezzoAllAutostrada Committee”, “AlterPiana”, “La Dragonfly Environmental Group – Serchio Valley”, “La Piana against Harmfulness-Noinc Noaero Presidium”, “Water Committee Bene Comune Valdarno”), to fight against the multi-utility project, starting from a motion that has already been discussed in some municipal councils, up to the possibility of presenting a complaint to the Court of Auditors. In some municipalities, such as Empoli and Pistoia, the process of promoting a referendum for the repeal of the merger resolutionwhile in many others the theme of water management and common goods is making a strong comeback to animate the public and political debate.