AMGA Foundation

The AMGA Foundation was established in 2003 with the aim of promoting and organising scientific, educational and cultural initiatives for protecting the environment and water resources and the optimal management of network services.

In particular, it looks to increase and disseminate knowledge and understanding about the water cycle and its interactions with the environment, within research and training projects orientated at allowing sustainable management of water resources and promoting economic growth and development of the local areas in which it operates. Furthermore, it is committed to research activities on organisational models of water services and, more generally, public services, in order to assess the possible management options within the various regional scenarios. The skills acquired are made available through training courses and seminars and the publication of technical and educational volumes. The Foundation’s scientific results from projects and collaborations are a valid reference in the water resources, energy and environmental management sectors. In 2021, AMGA undertook such activities by coordinating research projects and promoting wide-ranging cultural and educational activities. The institutional activities carried out by the Foundation also include support for initiatives launched by other organisations aimed at the management of network services and sustainability. Among other things, the Foundation is also responsible for the management of the Water Thematic Library and the Water and Gas Museum in Genoa.

A summary of the activities realised by the Foundation in 2021 is provided below.

Research projects
  • Application of Water Safety Plan (WSP) to the water service, methodological and informative aspects: implementing WSP in the integrated cycle by assessing and managing risk in the supply chain of water intended for human consumption. In this context, a new methodology has been applied in the definition of potential risks, identifying sample sites and involving stakeholders (water service companies) and institutional bodies (ARPA, ATO, ASL, etc.) in the definition of potential risks.
  • Reuse of purified wastewater. Hygiene and sanitation impact analysis: monitoring of the hygienic and sanitary quality of the wastewater leaving different treatment plants. Plants with different disinfection treatments were studied to evaluate the possible reuse of the produced wastewater for agronomic/industrial purposes. An assessment of the impact of effluents on receiving water bodies was also carried out. The analysis was carried out using, in addition to the microbiological and ecotoxicological parameters required by law, other more specific parameters in the field of hygiene and health.
  • Methods for the optimal management of urban drainage systems based on innovative monitoring of rainfall: study and trial of a new tool for more efficient management of the sewer networks during extreme weather events, through the development and testing of advanced methods for the elaboration of two-dimensional rainfall intensity maps updated in real-time. Precipitation fields were calculated from measurements acquired by the Smart Rainfall System (SRS) network consisting of IoT sensors compatible with LoRaWAN telecommunication technology. The results of the research will provide a system that can be repeated in different contexts and refined based on the design data of the monitored sewer networks.
  • Markets in search of regulation, tenders for gas distribution concessions: theoretic analysis of multi-unit tenders and econometric analysis of economies of scale with regard to gas distribution, aimed at estimating a benchmark distribution cost and ranking the businesses participating in each tender according to said benchmark, in order to assess the total possible savings offered by the leading operators in individual tenders.
  • The economic, environmental, and organisational performance of the Italian water sector: measuring water service operators’ performance with analysis of information on physical leaks of drinking water in distribution networks. In order to provide useful indications for the strategic management and policy choices of regulators, the relationships between the economic-environmental performance of companies and their ownership structure, as well as the effect of other impacting variables, have been analysed. For the integrated economic and environmental performance measurement phase, correct for water leaks, a non-parametric efficiency method is used, which enables the operators with the most significant leaks to be penalised.
  • Indicators of resilience in water distribution systems concerning climate and socio-economic changes: analysis of state of the art to define a methodology for quantifying water distribution systems’ resilience and measuring its variation for climate and socio-economic change scenarios. The analysis is also extended to assess possible incremental impacts on distributed water quality.
  • Regulation of water and environmental services, analysis of the factors that determine operating and capital costs and possible reflections on the models of recognition of tariff costs: investigation of possible regulatory synergies between the water and environmental sectors and the specificities of each. The research also aims to verify, with an econometric study, the applicability of alternative regulation models based on the recognition of standard/parametric costs, or if these parametric references can lend themselves to support the definition of price limits, regulatory menus and/or reward/sanction systems in an output-based logic. In this latter logic, the survey could be integrated with a study oriented towards appreciation of the perceived value of the qualitative attributes of services, evaluating the priorities for intervention also taking into account the point of view of citizens.
  • Applicability of landfill mining to old landfill sites: landfill mining can help to offset the post-management costs of landfill sites, remove potential sources of groundwater contamination and recover material and/or energy from the treatment of mined waste, through an analysis of the situation and management in the long term. With this in mind, guidelines will be established with a proposed method for evaluating the feasibility of landfill mining.
  • Evaluation and reduction of residual risk in effluent and sewage sludge for the presence of emerging micropollutants: assessment of the risk associated with possible micropollutants present in effluent and sludge discharge from wastewater treatment plants and identification of the most appropriate technologies to be used for removal. Utilities will be involved in collecting the data necessary to obtain a picture of critical cost-effectiveness issues in order to achieve the goals. Project results will be a tool to support regulatory compliance to ensure protection of the aquatic ecosystem and human health.
  • Evaluation of the presence of viral indicators in sludge by molecular biology methods: identify, by molecular biology analysis, the viral component present in sludge samples from wastewater treatment and organic wastewater treatment. Development of a protocol to identify, by electron microscopy, some viruses particularly significant for their impact on human health or for their role as indicators of contamination by enteric pathogens.
  • Development of an innovative technology for the degradation of emerging pollutants: technology for the treatment of water contaminated by emerging pollutants (in particular antibiotics and drugs), based on innovative photocatalysts, consisting of titanium dioxide nanoparticles, which will be tested in a pilot treatment plant, specifically built to evaluate an industrial scale up.
  • Multifunctional nanostructures as catalysts for clean energy production and water purification: fabrication of innovative nanostructured electrocatalysts with high activity, stability and low cost, for the production of hydrogen from water and simultaneous purification of contaminated aqueous solutions. The activities will be focused on the design and engineering of catalysts controlling their composition, structure and morphology at the nanoscale, with the aim of identifying the most suitable combinations of materials in relation to their final use in watersplitting and reforming processes. The catalysts will also be able to be activated by sunlight, a clean and renewable energy source.
  • Wastewater treatment plants, possible hot-spots in the spread of antibiotic resistance? Water is a prime route for the propagation of bacteria that play an important role in the spread of antibiotic resistance, and wastewater treatment plants can act as a reservoir and source of release of antibiotic-resistant bacteria into the environment. The project aims to assess the spread of antibiotic resistance throughout the wastewater treatment supply chain and investigate the steps that can lead to a reduction and/or selection of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
  • Water quality and exposome: innovative strategies for the identification of emerging micro-contaminants and their metabolites in wastewater. Passive samplers will be used to selectively accumulate substances in situ, allowing pre-concentration with screening methods and instrumental analytical methods. The pilot study is part of a broader multidisciplinary research known as “exposome“, a strategy that can be used in various types of aqueous matrices even when environmental concentrations are very low.
  • Stabilisation of PFAS in landfill leachate: identification and development of a technology able to remove, through a combined chemical-physical and thermal action, the fraction of PFAS (Poly- and Per-Fluoro Alkyl Substances), emerging contaminants present in landfill leachate. PFASs are used in a wide range of industrial applications because of their waterproofing properties and ability to withstand extreme environmental conditions. Although PFASs have hydrophobic properties, their functional groups make them hydrophilic and, therefore, extremely soluble and persistent in water. The lack of effectiveness of traditional treatment methods requires the application of innovative removal technologies prior to their re-entry into the water cycle.
  • Analysis of retail prices on energy markets: investigation of the dynamics of retail prices of energy services in the national territory, analysing the information present in the portal for comparison of offers of operators, published by ARERA (Regulatory Authority for Energy Networks and Environment). The identification and contact data of the seller, the descriptive parameters of the offers, the parameters and economic conditions of the offers, including protection services, will be analysed. The analysis will make it possible to identify the entry and exit dynamics of operators in the individual local markets and their positioning choices; moreover, it will be possible to study consumer response to the proposals of the various tariff menus.
  • Integrated asset management in a context of geo-hydrological risk and climate change: propose solutions for an efficient and resilient management of multi-utility assets for the mitigation of geomorphological hazards in contexts where there are strategic infrastructures, contributing to greater safety of urban and peri-urban areas and citizens who live there. In particular, the most functional nature-based solutions to an area and its issues will be considered, drawing on specific case studies.
  • Tariff regulation to stimulate user engagement and awareness in sustainable waste management: assessing the ways in which the various players in waste cycle management (municipalities, companies, users) interact, providing responses that encourage the achievement of desired environmental and economic results. Through the pay-as-youthrow tariff, and the relative arrangements that foresee incentives/premiums, it is possible to orientate the behaviour of the users towards a minimisation of the production of unsorted waste and an increase in the quality of the sorted collections. These tools are enabled by technologies for the recognition of users and to calibrate the tariffs on the basis of behaviour that can also allow to use the lever of flexibility (services on demand) as an incentive, in order to offer a service that is increasingly close to the needs of citizens.
Cultural and educational projects
  • Eco-games: online project realised in collaboration with Liguria Digitale. The application includes a virtual playground, with 36 quizzes and interactive games in two languages, to entertain and educate to eco-sustainable behaviour in the use and management of water resources, energy and waste.
  • Un mare senza plastica (A sea without plastic) Ecomusical: the show was proposed to children and families in the framework of the event Ocean Race and of a project on sustainability in collaboration with Liguria Region and Ente Parco Antola.
  • Un mare senza plastica e Cacche Spaziali (A Sea Without Plastic and Space Poo) Ecobooklets: the booklets of the two shows, illustrated with funny cartoons, provide insights and educational ideas on the history of water and plastic, purification techniques, pollution caused by the abuse of plastics and virtuous behaviour to protect the environment.
  • Il canto dell’albero (The song of the tree): green game, under construction, on the harmful effects of climate change, which will be able to support environmental protection projects.
  • Collaboration in cataloguing the Group’s historical archives: in 2021, the collaboration with Iren continued with the aim of reorganising the historical archives of the Brugneto aqueduct.
  • Summer school “The Ecological Transition between Green Deal and Recovery Plan. Relapses for the territory and the enterprises“: the initiative, organised in collaboration with the University of Genoa, provided advanced training on the effects of the ecological transition and the National Recovery and Resilience Plan for the territory and businesses.