Water is one of the dominant elements in the area crossed by the Milan Outer Eastern Bypass and has historical importance as a key asset in typical Lombard farming. The south-east section of Greater Milan has plenty of subsurface (groundwater is often abundant, even overflowing) and surface water. Much of the water flows through major rivers and watercourses – Lambro and Adda rivers, the Villoresi and Muzza Canals, the River Molgora and the Naviglio Martesana waterway – as well as a series of minor streams, canals and irrigation ditches. TEEM will undertake work to ensure that these watercourses all remain functional and it will also put in place systems to manage and treat the precipitation that lands on the roadway. The goal is twofold: protect the fundamental role played by water in these lands and ensure the complete eco-sustainability of the Bypass and related infrastructure. Moreover, TE has signed agreements with the institutions and consortia that manage these watercourses so as to ensure the protection of the water heritage in Greater Milan.
The Molgora rises in Lecco Province and flows into the Muzza at the edge of the Milan and Lodi provinces. It begins as two branches in the Colle Brianza and Santa Maria Hoè municipalities, near Merate, remaining quite small with a number of little waterfalls until they reach Olgiate Molgora, where other watercourses join them and form a proper stream. It then heads towards Osnago, crossing the valley that it lends its name to. At Usmate Velate, a small watercourse called the Molgoretta then flows into it, having come down from the west and incorporated the Lavandaia and Curone streams. At Vimercate, the watercourse starts to get deeper. Further downstream, beyond Caponago, the river flows through Pessano con Bornago and under the Villoresi (and collecting some water from this canal) via a structure known in the local dialects as “tri boch de pessàn” (or the three mouths of Pessano). It then also flows under the Naviglio Martesana waterway (at Gorgonzola) via a simple bridge structure consisting of the canal and tow path. From there, the Molgora flows towards Cassina de’ Pecchi and Melzo, forming the border between the Milan and Lodi provinces, along the edge of the Truccazzano and Comazzo municipalities, before finally flowing into the Muzza (which in turn flows into the Adda). The river – and the related valley – runs north-south, covering about 12km in an area of intense farming.
The Villoresi Canal is fed by the River Ticino, near Diga del Pan Perduto, in the Somma Lombardo municipality. It then runs for about 86 km, almost entirely in the Milan Province, before flowing into the River Adda at Cassano d’Adda. The canal was built to boost farming during the silk production crisis and it now provides water for an area of the Po Valley covering about 85,000 ha through a network of secondary canals and irrigation ditches totalling 3,000 km. There is already a project underway to turn the area around the canal into a sort of farming and nature park designed to protect the flora, fauna and activities tied to the canal. There are a few stretches where a cycle path runs alongside the canal, such as between Arconate and Garbagnate Milanese. Once the cycle path has been extended, it will form the backbone of this entire “green stretch” running west-east across the Milan, Monza and Brianza areas.
NAVIGLIO MARTESANA WATERWAY
The Martesana is sometimes called the “small canal” and it forms part of Milan’s network of canals. This navigable canal, between 9 and 18 m wide and 1 to 3 m deep, is 38 km long (including some now covered sections), linking Milan with the River Adda. The latter river is also the source of water for this canal, with the connection being at Concesa, slightly downstream from Trezzo sull’Adda. The Martesana waterway joins the River Seveso in Milan and was covered in the 1960s as far as Cassina de’ Pomm. It crosses through Trezzo sull’Adda, Vaprio d’Adda, Cassano d’Adda, Inzago, Bellinzago Lombardo, Gessate, Gorgonzola, Bussero, Cassina de’ Pecchi, Cernusco sul Naviglio, Vimodrone and Cologno Monzese. It enters into the Milan area at Via Idro, on the north-eastern edge of the city, and runs as far as Cassina de’ Pomm uncovered, where – at the corner of Via Melchiorre Gioia – it disappears under the roadway with a sharp left turn. It then follows the path of the road, with the River Seveso flowing into it before it reaches the Porta Nuova gate, from where the Cavo Redefossi canal begins. The canal was partly designed to provide water for farming, especially by collecting excess water that would otherwise cause swamps and then allowing it to be used where needed. Estimates suggest the canal has opened up in excess of 25,000 ha to agriculture. The canal is also a transport way, linking the city to the River Adda.
The Muzza flows off the River Adda, near Cassano d’Adda at an old wool mill, and then ends back in the Adda, at Castiglione. No Italian canal can carry more water and it was also the first one built in the north of Italy (and one of the first in the world). The Muzza Canal runs through Truccazzano, Comazzo and Merlino, before just about reaching the Paullo area 19 km later. At this point, it divides in two, allowing any excess water to flow into the Addetta, while the main canal turns south and runs parallel to the Adda through Mulazzano, Zelo Buon Persico and Cervignano. Finally, it reaches the Tavazzano power station and on to the Lodi area as far as Castiglione, where it eases back into the Adda.
The Lambro is a 130 km long river that runs into the left side of the Po. It’s source lies in the San Primo Mountains, in the Como section of Brianza, a little above Ghisallo. It runs right across the east side of Milan, passing under the Martesana (and collecting some of its overflow). From here on, the river grows in size as numerous canals and hundreds of little streams run into it. Once it reaches Melegnano, the Vettabbia flows into it, about 100m after the Cavo Redefossi has flown into the latter. Shortly after this, it enters the Lodi area. The Lambro then makes its way gently passed Sant’Angelo Lodigiano, where the southern Lambro flows into it (this is actually the extension of the River Olona outside of Milan). The amount of water in the river practically doubles here, as it washes gently passed San Colombano al Lambro, briefly forming the border between the Lodi and Pavia provinces. Near Orio Litta, it flows into the left side of the Po.
The Adda arises from a series of mountain lakes north of Bormio, at 2,253 m. It flows down the mountains, into Lake Como and then, 42 km later, it exits the lake on the Lecco side, heading once again through mountains, hills and ultimately the flat Po Valley on its way to the River Po. As far as Cassano d’Adda, the river runs between steep banks, through ravines and gullies. Once on the plane, it heads towards Lodi, then around Cremona – specifically Castelnuovo Bocca d’Adda – it flows into the Po after 313 km. For about 5 km the Adda washes by Comazzo, passing a number of territories to the left. It then spends over 3 km in Merlino, passing the Risorgenza, Predazzo and Bezzecca farmsteads. It then runs past – briefly to the left side, but for 7 km to the right – Zelo Buon Persico and Cervignano d’Adda, for a kilometre.