Underground the underground

What would inspire a king to make a quick trip to Milan?
A UN delegation featuring a number of international dignitaries visited Milan at the end of last month headed by their president, none other than Holland’s newly crowned King Willem-Alexander. In addition to his UN duties, his royal highness also found the time to meet with our mayor Giuliano Pisapia in one of his first international engagements since his recent appointment to the throne.

Re-Olanda-1877-copiaOur mayor Giuliano Pisapia (left) and King Willem-Alexander (right)

Milan’s water was top of the agenda at the UNSGAB (United Nations Secretary-General’s Advisory Board on Water and Sanitation) meeting which took place over three days in May in the Palazzo Reale. The convention examined world water issues and most significantly, a detailed report on the water strategy for the upcoming Expo presented by all the head honchos from the Expo 2015 committee and the three public companies responsible for the management of our local water services.

Thirsty work indeed! Thankfully a “casa dell’acqua” water fountain was placed outside the conference venue to promote an integral part of Expo 2015’s water strategy. With the intention of keeping all the Expo’s visitors hydrated, a series of these water fountains will be stationed around all the exhibition sites. In fact the “case dell’acqua” can already be spotted around the city, five have been erected in some public parks to remind locals that our award winning tap water is clean, tastes good and more importantly to try and limit the use of environmentally damaging bottled water.

vedovellaWhy all this fuss about water? Metropolitana Milanese is the name of the company which has looked after our water since 2003 but their relationship with our city’s underground activities actually dates back further than this as their name suggests.
The original plans for a metro system were drawn up as far back as 1914 but World Wars and a lack of funds delayed their realisation for a few years. Finally on 3rd July 1952, the city council voted in favour of a metro and in 1955, Metropolitana Milanese was set up to manage the construction of the city’s exciting new rapid transit system and so began the company’s involvement with underground Milan.
Building work began in May 1957 and seven years later, on 1st November 1964, the first section of the M1 red line was opened from Lotto to Villa Marelli. The M2 green line followed in 1969, the yellow M3 line in 1990 and most recently line 5 “La Lilla” was launched earlier this year with its impressive high tech driverless trains. The entire network now stretches 92 km with two more lines planned as well as significant extensions to the existing lines.

Since their initial incarnation as the metro’s planners and constructers, Metropolitana Milanese have evolved over 50 years into a specialist engineering company supplying a full range of services including the planning and development of civil projects; from road maintenance all over Italy to public transport in Naples and Bari. Their portfolio is even expanding outside of Italy. The company have just signed an important memorandum of understanding with Russian railways for a planned circular train line around Moscow.

ferrovie_russeSo in 2003 when our city council were looking for a new company to take over management of the drinking water and sewer system, they turned to Metropolitana Milanese and their growing expertise and in depth knowledge of life below ground.

What do they do exactly? The water that comes out of our taps is pumped from groundwater that lies below the city. The company’s role is to source, purify and then distribute this water. They are also responsible for collecting our sewage and coordinating its treatment before releasing it into the environment. These essential services are provided to approximately 2 million people throughout the city and beyond, to Corsico, parts of Buccinasco, Peschiera Borromeo, San Donato Milanese and the new Rho – Pero exhibition area.
Metropolitana Milanese will play a significant role in Expo 2015 and were one of the companies present at the recent United Nations meeting. In line with the Expo’s theme, they have made environmental awareness a priority. Their unique spin off website – MilanoBlu – is testament to this. Not only does it provide answers to any questions about our water you might have, citizens can also check the results of quality control tests on the water in their road.

Evidently Metropolitana Milanese is responsible for almost everything that goes on under the city. Let’s hope that their multi competence expertise doesn’t cross over prompting someone to fill up the wrong tube and flood the metro?!

Samantha Candeggi

Comments are closed