New water network constructed in the Catania Plain: zero water waste achieved

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Twenty-five kilometers of new water pipelines in one of the country’s most drought-affected areas. In the Catania Plain, the replacement of part of the hydraulic system, an infrastructure network that was 50 years old with leakages reaching up to 60% of the transported water, damaging the agricultural companies that grow red oranges in Sicily, has been almost completed. The new pipes will enter into operation in the next irrigation season, which usually begins at the end of June.

The intervention, carried out by the Webuild Group in synergy with the Consortium for the Reclamation of the Sicilian Region, was commissioned by Rfi with an investment of 10 million euros and is part of the activities related to the construction of the railway doubling of the Bicocca-Catenanuova section of the Palermo-Catania line, the new railway line that will change the mobility system of the island. The new pipes, which have reduced water leakage to zero for the renewed part of the network, extend over an area of approximately 40,000 hectares where the regional irrigation system, dating back to the 1960s, has been modernized.

The works of Lot 6 of the doubling of the Palermo-Catania railway indeed cross the Catania Plain, an area of 60,000 hectares, among the most fertile in Sicily, mainly cultivated with citrus groves and to a lesser extent with vegetables and cereals. The interventions on the water network began in the autumn of 2022, once the interference of irrigation conduits, channels, and pipelines with the construction site of the railway had been identified within the infrastructure project. The works then focused on the need to replace or divert existing conduits, culminating in the completion phase with the construction of approximately 25 km of ducts in spheroidal cast iron and high-density polyethylene (Pead), which guarantees maximum hygiene standards for water transport and very high resistance to corrosion, traction, and impacts.

The works were carried out by Webuild, ensuring compliance with the timing of railway works and, at the same time, the continuity of irrigation in seasons with very intense drought phenomena, thus protecting the agricultural entrepreneurs of the area. The intervention allowed for a more precise mapping of the pre-existing water network. Italy has outdated water infrastructures with losses of over 40% in the distribution phase. It is the fourth worst country in the European Union: 60% of the network is more than 30 years old and 25% is over 50 years old. In addition, only 4% of wastewater is destined for reuse in agriculture.

In Sicily, Webuild is currently involved in the implementation of 8 projects related to seven sections of the high-capacity railway line Palermo-Catania-Messina and Lot 1 of the Ragusa-Catania motorway axis. These are major projects aimed at transforming and innovating the region’s infrastructure system, promising to generate significant job opportunities and a significant impact on the local economy. To complete these projects, up to 7,000 jobs are estimated, including direct and third-party staff, of which around 1,700 people are already at work, while the productive chain from the beginning of the works includes about 1,150 companies.

In particular, Lot 6, with a progress status of 75%, involves the doubling of around 38 km of high-capacity railway line, between Catenanuova and Bicocca, on the Palermo-Catania route, partly in parallel with the historic single-track line, partly through the construction of a new and different route, all with double tracks. The route will help improve railway service between Enna and Catania, ensuring an increase in transit frequencies and shorter travel times. The stretch is an important piece for strengthening railway connections with the ports of Catania, Augusta, and Palermo, and with the airports of Palermo and Catania.

Nella Piana di Catania realizzata una nuova rete idrica: ridotta a zero la dispersione d’acqua

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