Our river Lambro

Our river Lambro (and pollution)


The Lambro  (whose name corresponds to a Greek  word meaning ‘light (in weight), quick”) is  a left tributary of the  Po. It has its source in the heart of the Como Brianza area, in the mountains of the San Primo range (1,685 metres). The river crosses Valassina and  it flows into Lake Pusiano. with the name of Lambrone . When it goes out, also through an underground canal known as the Diotti Cave, it  is joined by an effluent of Lake Alserio it starts winding  from the base of the hills of Brianza, where it collects the waters of various streams, irrigation ditches and small lakes, to reach the town of Monza. Here it  crosses  its famous park  in two branches which join again before the river passes through the eastern part of Milan and moves South to the provinces of Pavia and Lodi. At Sant’Angelo Lodigiano  it receives the waters of its main tributary, the Southern Lambro  almost doubling its  discharge. Finally, near Orio Litta,  it flows into the Po after a course of 130 km

At 5.8 cubic metres per second the average discharge of the Lambro is relatively small, but it can be occasionally boosted to 40 m³/s or more by the Milanese water drains and dangerous floods are frequent in the rainy seasons.

The Lambro drains a very densely populated and heavily industrialized zone, including a significant portion of the Milan metropolitan area . Before the construction of a treatment plant in 2002, almost all of the sewage from the city of Milan flowed untreated into the river, as well as industrial sewages. Despite the implementation of sewage treatment, overall water quality remained poor, until the major disaster of 23 February 2010, when unknown criminals poured into the river, near  Villasanta , the contents of several silos containing oil and other hydrocarbons, all belonging to a company named “Lombardia Petroli”  This oily mass followed the entire length of the river, despite both local authorities and  civil defence’s efforts in order to stop the flow, then reached Po river. This disaster caused considerable damage to wildlife and vegetation, both in the Lambro and in the Po, and its effects have been evident for many years afterwards, making it one of the worst environmental crisis in recent history in Italy.

In a document issued by the European Commission  on 21 January 2016 we read that, since  the river Lambro is a highly polluted tributary of the river Po, researchers from the Water Framework  Directive have recommended that fish from some sections of the River Po and the River Lambro , should not be eaten due to high levels of some endocrine-disrupting chemicals in the river sediments and fish.

This recommendation is based on an extensive update regarding pollution levels in the rivers. A large amount of dangerous substances has been found, which pose a significant risk to freshwater environments and  to human health. They are  identified as endocrine- disrupting chemicals and interfere with wildlife and human hormones, affecting their normal development and functioning.  Analysing sediments from the River Po and from the River Lambro  it was found that the most  important sources of the pollutants was the River Lambro sub-basin.  Dangerous chemicals and estrogens  are up to six times higher in the Lambro  than in  the  Po. The researchers note that the consumption of some fish species from the River Po could already pose a risk to health, and that there could be a case for prohibiting the consumption of fish from the Lambro. (21 Jan. 2016)



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