September 21, 2010 / 4:34 PM / 9 years ago

Italy water system needs 64 bln euro over 30 yrs-study

* Italy regions have 42 bln euro water investments planned

* Italy water consumption to grow 3 pct 2010-2020

MILAN, Sept 21 (Reuters) - Italy’s water sector will need investments of around 64 billion euros ($84.05 billion) over the next 30 years, a study of Italy’s water sector, the Blue Book, said on Tuesday.

Much of Italy’s water transport pipes are old and 25 percent to 40 percent of water for domestic use is lost through leaks. [ID:nLDE6410EQ]

Italy’s sewage system covers 85 percent of national territory which means 15 percent of Italians are without proper sewage. About 30 percent of the territory is without waste water treatment.

The study — prepared by research group Utilitatis founded by Italian utility federation FederUtility — is based on the investment plans of a sample of regional units (ATO) covering some 95 percent of the Italian population.

The investments earmarked by these ATO amount to 42 billion euros, the Blue Book report said. Projected out over 30 years and to the whole of Italy the total is 64.12 billion euros.

Just over 11 percent of the 42 billion euro investments planned is funded by public funds, the Blue Book said. Private funds are seen as vital for the sector because state financing has dried up as Rome struggles to rein in its budget deficit.

Water transport infrastructure accounts for about 16 billion euros of the total, while sewage and waste water treatment are 19 billion euros, the study said.

Italian water consumption is seen growing 3 percent between 2010 and 2020 with a significant increase in the islands and the south, it said.

Under the Ronchi law approved in 2009 to help liberalise the sector, all water concessions will have to be tendered, starting with in-house deals which expire by the end of 2010.

For listed companies the rules mean the public shareholders of big regional utilities like Acea (ACE.MI), Hera HRN.MI and Iren (IREE.MI) will eventually have to sell down their stakes if they want to hang on to their home-base water concessions. (Reporting by Stephen Jewkes)

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