PO Basin Authority

The Po River is the longest Italian river, and its hydrographic basin is the largest. The Po basin is home to some 17 million people (2008), and extends over 24% of Italy’s territory. The regions of Piedmont, Aosta Valley, Liguria, Lombardy, Veneto, Emilia Romagna and Tuscany lie partially or completely within it, as does the Autonomous Province of Trento.


In 1989, Law 183 established the river basin as the basic unit within which all regulatory actions concerning water resource management, water pollution control and soil protection were to be coordinated for economic and social development and for environmental protection. The law also established major basin authorities and entrusted them with planning responsibilities.

The Po river basin Authority has been thus created, along with other five national river basin authorities, in 1990 after the issue of law 183/1989.


National river basin authorities, whose members include representatives of the central and regional administrations (7 + 1 Province in the Po basin), have as their main role the preparation of basin plans, which aim to:

  • protect water resources,
  • mitigate hydrogeological risks (such as floods, landslides and erosion, including that of river banks) and
  • promote sustainable use of water resources in an environmentally conscious way.
  • rule land-use to ensure the above-mentioned objectives are met.


Po basin authority main activities:

Knowledge building activities

Territorial and socio-economic data collection, management and spreading;

environment typical features and risk conditions analysis;

Cartography production;

Environmental monitoring;

cost-benefits analyis on realized interventions;

Planning activities

Editing of the basin plan;

after EU Water Framework Directive came into force, editing of the River Basin Management Plan (RBMP)

after EU Flood Directive came into force, editing of the Flood risk mitigation plan (this was a plan already foreseen in the contents of the basin plan)

Programming activities within the basin plan framework

Coordination of regional planning and water resources management – this activity has gained more and more importance in the last ten years, following the evolution of the Italian legislation


The EU Mediterranean country partner ADBPO has a complementary role to the other partners’ expertise in particular in the fields of water management and use of treated wastewater for agricultural irrigation.

Po river basin Authority has set strategic objectives regarding the quality requirements of treated wastewater for use in agriculture in its mandate area that have been incorporated in the regional water protection plans, and is implementing the use of the indexes on water exploitation to steer water policies towards better sustainability of water uses in the long term and to evaluate actual policies impacts in the long term, via simulation of water resources availability as estimated with climate change scenarios.

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