If Verde Falls were no longer there tomorrow

April 22, 2024

On World Earth Day, we want to be proactive and share an open letter sent to regional, national and European institutions to counter the risk of further water abstraction from the spring that feeds the Rio Verde River and its namesake Falls, compromising the entire river ecosystem!

Verde Waterfall
Municipality of Borrello

Open letter addressing:

Directorate-General for Environment (ENV)

Nature Conservation Unit


MASE – Italian Ministry of Environment

Abruzzo Regional Authority

Municipality of Rosello

Municipality of di Borrello


With this letter, the undersigned associations express their surprise and dismay upon learning about the project to increase water abstraction from the Surienze spring, located in the territory of Rosello (CH), closely linked to the Rio Verde stream in Borrello. This outdated project, which was already vehemently rejected upon its initial presentation in the early 1990s, poses a threat to the river and the environment by diverting water away, thereby jeopardizing precious biological cycles associated with watercourses.

They believe that SASI – Abruzzo Society for Integrated Water Service – should instead focus on repairing leaks, which, according to recently released statistics from ISTAT, reach alarming percentages, approximately 60% of the flow. Repairing these leaks would render unnecessary the continuous attempts to increase water withdrawals for human consumption.

Verde river near Borrello habitat for white-clawed crayfish (Austropotamobius italicus meridionalis). Central Apennines, Italy. 2020
The beautiful Rio Verde River.
Bruno D'Amicis

What happened to the founding principle of Sustainable Development, which instructs us not to extract resources from the environment faster than it can regenerate them? Where do the resources for the construction and maintenance of water infrastructure come from? When will the responsible authorities finally decide to stop providing statistics on water losses in various regions of Italy and finally start renovating water facilities?

Furthermore, the European Union has invested significant capital through the LIFE program for the conservation and protection of the Austropotamobius pallipes complex, a species listed in the Habitat Directive among animal species requiring strict protection. European funds have enabled the establishment of several breeding centres for the species in the Abruzzo and Molise regions. The most important of these, which has never ceased its activities with sacrifice and volunteerism even when projects and funds were depleted, is the centres in Borrello, located within a Special Area of Conservation of the Natura 2000 network, a Regional Nature Reserve, and a WWF Oasis. All activities carried out at this centre, which has brought the name of Borrello and Abruzzo to Europe, are strongly threatened by the possible reduction of water flow caused by the Surienze project.

White-clawed crayfish (Austropotamobius italicus meridionalis) object of a breeding, restocking and introduction project carried out by Rewilding Apennines. Central Apennines, Italy. 2020. © Bruno D’Amicis
The endangered and endemic white-clwed crayfish (Austropotamobius italicus meridionalis), living in the Verde River.
Bruno D'Amicis

Thanks to other European funds managed by the Abruzzo Region, under the ERDF ROP 2014-2020 to support “Actions to reduce habitat fragmentation and maintain ecological and functional connectivity,” a project was funded for the Municipality of Borrello for various enhancement interventions in the Regional Reserve, including the crayfish centre and the trails to the waterfalls. What will become of these interventions if the waterfalls disappear? Already heavily threatened by global warming, the karst nature of the Rio Verde basin, and the reduction in precipitation, will they remain unchanged as we see them today? Or will we be forced to change the name of the Regional Reserve because the waterfalls are no longer there?

Verde waterfalls are the highest natural waterfalls of the Apennine mountain range.
Angela Tavone

The associations urge not to exploit emergencies but to address them without further consuming and irreversibly depleting the natural capital, which is already heavily compromised and endangered for future generations. While expressing their full solidarity with the populations most affected by water scarcity, they are convinced that increasing withdrawals will not result in more water for everyone, but will certainly lead to a poorer environment, perhaps irreversibly damaged, and a conscience dirtier than before.

Therefore, the undersigned associations request the recipients of this letter to ensure that the project to increase water abstraction from the Surienze spring is rejected and to activate investments aiming to repair leaks in the water network, in order to preserve natural water reserves as much as possible. This is especially crucial in light of climate change, which puts them at such risk, by reducing waste and increasing public awareness towards a healthier and more responsible use of water.







Letter signed by:

Rewilding Apennines ETS

Salviamo l’Orso OdV

LIPU Abruzzo

Executive Director

Mario Cipollone

The Chairman

Stefano Orlandini

The Chairman

Stefano Allavena


Stazione Ornitologica Abruzzese

Forum Abruzzese dei Movimenti per l’Acqua

The General Secretary

Fabio Borlenghi

The Chairman

Massimo Pellegrini

Augusto De Sanctis