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Save the Aventino River

by Sam Dunham

The river flows from its Majella mountain source (Monte Porrara) above La Forchetta, passing through the comunes of Palena, Lama dei Peligni, Gessopalena and Civitella Messer Raimondo on its way to Lago Sant’Angelo (Lake Casoli). The section just a few kilometres upstream from the mouth of this lake is the only wild mountain river in Abruzzo that is left unscathed from the ravages of development in the production of electricity.

If the commune of Gessopalena has its way, this stretch of the river Aventino will die.  Gessopalena has put out a tender for the construction of a hydroelectric plant on the river.

The work in question, totalling a few million euros, sees the construction of a reinforced concrete beam above the river, with a height of 4 meters and a length of 18 meters, for the uptake of the water which is carried by a pipe of 1.8 meters in diameter along the banks of the Aventino for 2.3 Kms downstream giving a jump of 31 meters which is used to create electricity from turbines.

The regional authority of Chieti gave approval prior to the bid going out. The escalated procedure means that bids will be opened on 25 2012. The adjacent comunes of Lama dei Peligni and Civitella Messer Raimondo had not been informed, until it came to light last week when 25 engineers and representatives of the bidding companies arrived on our land to gain access to the Aventino – without asking our permission.

The river is everyone’s heritage, yet the commune of Gessopalena will over the next 30 years receive a total of 5 million euros and the winning bidder of the project will receive in total over the 30 years some 35 million euros. Once again a few people get richer whilst the majority get poorer.

This project will produce severe economic impact to the local communities, since the area of outstanding natural beauty surrounding the Aventino attracts thousands of tourists every year, not only from but also from France, Germany, UK, Ireland, Holland, Belgium, USA, Canada, New Zealand and Australia, Last year over 1,000 tourists navigated through this section of the Aventino in kayaks and rafts. This project will reduce this section of the Aventino to a trickle.

The environmental impact is even more devastating; it will kill the whole ecosystem. This irreversible act will destroy the whole beauty of the area; all flora and will die. No more will the heron be seen drinking every day, the occasional stag neither, nor will the baby doe be seen crossing the river. Wild boar will search out pastures greener, the trout will no longer roam free attracting fly-fishing. The falcons will not hover above and the golden eagle will not grace us with its presence.

“Only when the last tree has died and

The last river has been poisoned and

The last fish has been caught,

Will we realise that

We cannot eat money”

– 19th Century Cree Indian Proverb

Join the Facebook group AMICI DELL’AVENTINO to help save this river

Guest post by

Stewart HollandStewart Holland and his wife, the Artist and Photographer Ruth Cantlay Holland, run  the award-winning Casa del Fiume”. Before moving to Abruzzo five years ago Stewart was an IT Consultant. Stewart also worked in Milan where he met Ruth who was a Fashion Designer.

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Joyce Delaurentis

What can be done at this point re the Gessapalena dam??

Stew Holland

Hi Joyce, 1) Please join the Facebook group. 2) Please send an email to sindaco@comune.gessopalena.ch.it ufficiosegreteria@comune.gessopalena.ch.it ufficiotecnico@comune.gessopalena.ch.it CC amicidellaventino@virgilio.it Subject: Aventino Message: APPEAL TO THE MAYOR OF GESSOPALENA TO SAVE THE AVENTINO RIVER Dear Mr. Mayor of Gessopalena, The Aventino is a beautiful and uncontaminated river which attracts thousands of tourists, fishermen, kayakers and rafters every year providing an important economic return for theSangro-Aventino area. The proposed power plant on the Aventino river advertised by your municipality If implemented will irreversibly destroy two kilometers of river to enrich only a few people. The Aventino river is everyone's heritage and is… Read more »

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All about Abruzzo in a slow travel & food blog