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Relationships with municipalities and other local authorities

The administrators of the shareholder municipalities are major stakeholders in Hera since they are majority shareholders and constitute a link between Hera and the areas in which Hera is operational.
Forms of structured dialogue with mayors are present: in 2011 the Bologna TOS met once with the Bologna area Municipalities Committee and held a series of encounters with the Intermunicipal Association and/or Associations of Mountain Communities. In Ferrara, a by now consolidated relationship with the Chairmen of the District Councils lies at the basis of an important venture aimed at improving the decor and implementing separate waste collection both in the town centre and in the various districts of the town. The Imola-Faenza TOS periodically took part in the meetings with CON.AMI, informing the Mayors of its local area on the investments made, the scheduled measures, the situation of the services and the information and promotion initiatives. The Modena TOS met periodically with the Mayors Panel, which includes the Mayors, or their delegates, from the pertinent local areas. The Ravenna TOS held meetings with the municipal authorities and their decentralised offices in order to examine issues relating to the services managed in the area and took part in various meetings of the Council Committees so as to provide information and clarification on specific aspects of particular interest to the general public. The Local Shareholders' Committee in the Rimini area met twice. These meetings specifically examined the subject of the financial relationships between the Municipal Authorities and Hera, the tariffs for the municipal waste management service and the possible scenarios further to recent legislative provisions of the Regulatory Authorities. Besides the meeting with the local Mayors' Territorial Committee, the Forlė-Cesena TOS had a number of meetings with the new mayors elected in 2011 to get to know them.

A number of experimental projects for waste collection in the Forlė-Cesena area led to exacting planning and relationship activities with the Municipalities in which they were activated, including the Municipality of San Mauro Pascoli (FC) where the implementation of a pilot project was launched, for waste collection using electronic devices on rubbish skips.

Hera has published a newsletter, sent to the Mayors of municipality shareholders via email, containing local area news as well as news of the entire Group. In 2011, 8 issues were published.

An educational grant in memory of Simone Messina

Simone was the voluntary fire fighter who died in the collapse of the building in S. Benedetto del Querceto caused by a gas leak. Five years on from the tragedy, Hera - in collaboration with the Faculty of Engineering at University of Bologna and the support of Simone's family - handed over two grants in December 2011, for a value of Euro 2,500 each to two young graduates who had presented thesis dealing with "Safety, management and technologies in gas distribution networks and plants".


Water and waste management policies involve the participation of numerous local institutions, who are the protagonists of the various phases: regulation, planning, management and control.

Regulation

By defining guidelines and strategies, the Emilia-Romagna Regional Authority exercises the legal function of regulation of water resources and management of waste in harmony with the national regulation bodies if existing and in agreements with the Provincial, Municipal and Catchment Area Authorities.
The Region of Emilia-Romagna, among the first in Italy, complied by means of Regional Law no. 23/2011 with Law no. 191/2009 which established the abolition of the Water and Waste Regulatory Authorities, envisaging a sole regulatory authority covering the entire regional area, as well as the outside municipalities which had previously obtained annexation to one of the pre-existing provincial areas. The same law established the Emilia-Romagna area agency for water and waste services, a body endowed with administrative, accounting and technical autonomy, which will perform the functions of the previous Water and Waste Regulatory Authorities.

Planning

Regional strategies are set out and applied by the Provincial, Municipal Authorities and the area Agency.
For the Integrated Water Service, the Water Protection Plan is the main document which sets forth both the qualitative and quantitative objectives pursued:

  • maintenance and re-balancing of the water balance between availability and withdrawals, in order to define usage compatible with water resources, for the purpose of protecting said resources;
  • assessment of the characteristics of water bodies through monitoring and the consequent definition of actions for the purpose of achieving quality objectives.

Alongside the Water Protection Plan, the planning instrument that each Water and Waste Regulatory Authority uses (under Regional Law no. 23/2011 the entire regional area is the water and waste regulatory authority) to define the measures necessary for meeting the requirements of the local area is the Authority Plan. In accordance with the planning ordered above, and on the basis of the recognition of the existing works, the Area Plan establishes the management and organisational model for the integrated water service, establishes the service levels to be guaranteed for customers, the priorities for the preparation of the programme of measures, the criteria for defining the related financial plan and the pertinent tariff proposals for the plan years.
The Municipal Authorities contribute to the regulation of the services by means of specific Regulations adopted in harmony with the Regulations authorised by the Area Authority.
Decree Law no. 201/2011 transferred the functions pertaining to the regulation and supervision of the tariff for the water services to the Electricity and Gas Authority which will see to the same using the criteria and formalities currently being defined.
Similarly, with respect to waste, the regional guidelines should be represented, as envisaged in Article 199 of Legislative Decree no. 152/2006, in the Regional Waste Management Plan. This should set forth measures aimed at favouring the reduction of waste production and the recovery of waste and the regulation of waste management activities through the promotion of integrated waste management, providing incentives for the use of suitable, modern technologies in order to provide the utmost guarantees of significant environmental protection, safeguarding of the health of residents and self-sufficiency in terms of the capacity of waste recovery and disposal.
The waste planning system was completed by the Area Waste Plan which is the "instrument for the government of the municipal waste treatment and provides the interventions, the management model and the economic and financial plan." The province participate in the planning process with the provincial Waste Management Plan and the Territorial Coordination provincial Plan.

Waste traceability Hera Spilamberto at the forefront

A management system has been created in the Municipality of Spilamberto which guarantees the complete traceability of the waste cycle. Thanks to the funding of the Emilia-Romagna Regional Authority as part of the Environmental Action Plan, the system envisaged the installation of devices on all the road rubbish skips for the collection of waste which make it possible to register waste placed inside via a smart card. The vehicles for the collection of waste are equipped with equipment for the weighing of the skips and, in conclusion, the recovery and disposal plants register the transported loads.


Management

The organisation and regulation of the municipal waste management service and the integrated water service are seen to by the Emilia-Romagna Area Authority for the water and waste service which is responsible for representing the collective demand for the services and governing the production and supply of said services.
The operators are the companies that materially provide the services to residents. The services are governed through service agreements, contractual documents which specify the standards and performance that must be guaranteed, the cost of the services, and the related financial plans, and penalties and sanctions in the event of breach of the provisions. Therefore, the operators and the Area Authority collaborate in their areas of operation in order to draw up the best services framework, with a view to optimising the system.
Generally, operators are also in charge of the administrative activities, such as stipulating, amending and terminating supply contracts for the integrated water service or part of the service, measuring and recording the products supplied and services provided, invoicing and collecting payments for tariffs.
The authorisation processes envisaged by national and regional regulations for various types of plants managed by Hera involve - in an integrated manner - the technicians from various local institutions in the Services Conference, a meeting point for the various skills required for a complete assessment of the different impacts on the environment of a new plant or the operation of an existing plant.

Control

Environmental management and control of water are exercised at local level, by numerous parties, each with specific duties.
The Area Authority is specifically responsible for the control of the methods used for providing the services, their monitoring and assessment - taking into account the quantities and entity of the service rendered in relation to the costs - for the purpose of determining the tariffs for the users.
With regard to product quality, environmental management and control of water are exercised at local level, by numerous parties, each with specific duties.
For the purpose of protecting public health, the Regional Authorities are in charge of coordinating the activities of the Local Health Authorities, which mainly consists in issuing directives containing criteria for drawing up plans for control of water for human consumption.
The Local Health Authorities carry out controls on water based on plans which take into account the regional directives, fixing the points representing the quality of the aqueduct plants. They also carry out inspections of the plants to assess the structural and functional conditions and identify any criticalities.
In line with the duties assigned by the Area Authorities existing before Regional Law no. 23/2011, also Hera, in its role as an operator of Integrated Water Services, controls the quality of drinking water according to the provisions of current regulations and, specifically, according to Legislative Decree no. 31/2001 which states that the Operator must guarantee that water is suitable for drinking up to the point of delivery to users (meters).
ARPA carries out controls on all waste management plants resulting from the Hera Group's operations, with specific reference to verifying the limits defined in the authorisations. It draws up reports on specific issues for the purpose of providing a basis for possible environmental reclamation and quality improvement policies. It also provides technical support for laboratory tests.
As from the effective efficacy of Decree Law no. 201/2011, converted by means of Law no. 214/2011, which will take place with the issue of the DPCM (Prime Minister's Decree) which as of the date of this Report still has to be issued, the functions for regulating and controlling the Water Services will be the responsibility of the Electricity and Gas Authority which will take steps to do so in line with criteria and formalities currently being defined.

During 2011, the Hera Group received 54 warnings. These warnings mainly concerned disputes raised by the supervisory bodies and refer to violations of provisions laid down by Legislative Decree no. 152/2006, the Consolidated Environmental Law, pertaining essentially to the integrated water service and the lack of observance of the regulations contained in the respective authorisation deeds. The fulfilments required by the supervisory bodies were met in relation to the receipt of these warnings and none was challenged before the competent authorities.
Additionally, 89 administrative sanctions totalling Euro 184,239 mainly for environmental violations, were paid in 2011. The majority of the disputes raised by the supervisory bodies refer to violations of provisions laid down by the afore-mentioned Legislative Decree no. 152/2006, the Consolidated Environmental Law, pertaining essentially to the integrated water service and in particular the running of the plants and the exceeding of the tabular limits set for the treatment plant drains. These violation disputes are administrative and defence briefs have been filed in relation to the same, with the principal aim of revoking the measures adopted by means of archiving the proceedings and, subordinately, the payment of the fine to the minimum extent envisaged by sector regulations.

When business and university research meet

In February, "Il Ciclo Integrato dell'acqua, Hera e Laboratory Terra&AcquaTech: esperienze sul Campo e Ricerca" was held in Ferrara, a conference organised by the Hera Group and Laboratory Terra&AcquaTech at the Technical Hub of Ferrara University. The event concluded with the signing of the agreement between Hera and Laboratory Terra&Acqua Tech, aimed at developing collaboration and research activities in the field of the integrated water service.