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The Po ( , ; la, Padus or ; grc, Πάδος, Pádos, or , ; Ancient Ligurian: or ) is the longest river in Italy. It is a river that flows eastward across northern Italy starting from the
Cottian Alps The Cottian Alps (; french: Alpes Cottiennes ; it, Alpi Cozie ) are a mountain range in the southwestern part of the Alps. They form the border between France (Hautes-Alpes and Savoie) and Italy (Piedmont). The Fréjus Road Tunnel and Fréjus Rai ...
. The Po flows either or – considering the length of the Maira, a right bank tributary. The
headwaters The headwaters of a river A river is a natural flowing watercourse, usually freshwater, flowing towards an ocean, sea, lake or another river. In some cases, a river flows into the ground and becomes dry at the end of its course witho ...
of the Po are a spring seeping from a stony hillside at Pian del Re, a flat place at the head of the
Val Po The Valle Po (literally "Po valley") is a valley of the Cottian Alps; it, Alpi Cozie , photo=Monviso_Cottian_Alps.jpg , photo_caption=Monte Viso in the Cottian Alps, seen from the Rocciamelone , country_type= Countries , country= , subdiv ...
under the northwest face of
Monviso Monte Viso or Monviso (; oc, Vísol; Piedmontese Piedmontese (autonym: or , in it, piemontese) is a language spoken by some 700,000 people mostly in Piedmont it, Piemontese , population_note = , population_blank1_title = , p ...

Monviso
. The Po then extends along the
45th parallel north
45th parallel north
before ending at a delta projecting into the
Adriatic Sea The Adriatic Sea () is a body of water separating the Italian Peninsula from the Balkans. The Adriatic is the northernmost arm of the Mediterranean Sea, extending from the Strait of Otranto (where it connects to the Ionian Sea) to the northwest ...

Adriatic Sea
near
Venice Venice ( ; it, Venezia ; vec, Venesia or ) is a city in northeastern Italy Italy ( it, Italia ), officially the Italian Republic ( it, Repubblica Italiana, links=no ), is a country consisting of delimited by the and surrounding ...

Venice
. It is characterized by its large discharge (several rivers over 1,000 km have a discharge inferior or equal to the Po). As a result of its characteristics, the river is subject to heavy flooding. Consequently, over half its length is controlled with ,
levee file:River Levee Cross Section Figure.svg, Components of a levee: file:Sacramento River Levee.jpg, The side of a levee in Sacramento, California A levee (), dike (American English), dyke (Commonwealth English), embankment, floodbank, or stop ...

levee
s. The river flows through many important Italian cities, including
Turin Turin ( , Piedmontese Piedmontese (autonym: or , in it, piemontese) is a language spoken by some 700,000 people mostly in Piedmont it, Piemontese , population_note = , population_blank1_title = , population_blank1 = ...

Turin
,
Piacenza Piacenza (; egl, label=Piacentino dialect, Piacentino, Piaṡëinsa ; ) is a city and ''comune'' in the Emilia-Romagna region of northern Italy, the capital of the province of Piacenza, eponymous province. The etymology is long-standing, tracing ...
,
Cremona Cremona (, also ; ; lmo, label=Cremunés, Cremùna; egl, Carmona) is a city and ''comune'' in northern Italy, situated in Lombardy, on the left bank of the Po (river), Po river in the middle of the ''Pianura Padana'' (Po Valley). It is the capi ...

Cremona
and
Ferrara Ferrara (, ; egl, Fràra ) is a city and ''comune The (; plural: ) is a of , roughly equivalent to a or . Importance and function The provides essential public services: of births and deaths, , and maintenance of local roads and ...

Ferrara
. It is connected to
Milan Milan (, , Milanese: ; it, Milano ) is a city in northern Italy, capital of Lombardy, and the List of cities in Italy, second-most populous city proper in Italy after Rome. The city proper has a population of about 1.4 million, while its ...

Milan
through a net of
channels Channel, channels, channeling, etc., may refer to: Geography * Channel (geography), in physical geography, a landform consisting of the outline (banks) of the path of a narrow body of water. Australia * Channel Country, region of outback Austr ...
called '' navigli'', which
Leonardo da Vinci Leonardo di ser Piero da Vinci (15 April 14522 May 1519) was an Italian of the who was active as a painter, , engineer, scientist, theorist, sculptor and architect. While his fame initially rested on his achievements as a painter, he als ...

Leonardo da Vinci
helped design. Near the end of its course, it creates a wide
delta Delta commonly refers to: * Delta (letter) (Δ or δ), a letter of the Greek alphabet * River delta, a landform at the mouth of a river * D (NATO phonetic alphabet: "Delta"), the fourth letter of the modern English alphabet * Delta Air Lines, an Ame ...

delta
(with hundreds of small channels and five main ones, called ''Po di Maestra'', ''Po della Pila'', ''Po delle Tolle'', ''Po di Gnocca'' and ''Po di Goro'') at the southern part of which is
Comacchio Comacchio (; egl, label=Emilian language, Comacchiese, Cmâc' ) is a town and ''comune'' of Emilia Romagna, Italy, in the province of Ferrara, from the provincial capital Ferrara. It was founded about two thousand years ago; across its history it ...

Comacchio
, an area famous for
eel Eels are ray-finned fish Actinopterygii ( New Latin ('having rays') + Greek ( 'wing, fins')), members of which are known as ray-finned fishes, is a clade A clade (; from grc, , ''klados'', "branch"), also known as a monophyletic gro ...
s. The Po valley was the territory of Roman
Cisalpine Gaul Cisalpine Gaul ( la, Gallia Cisalpina, also called ''Gallia Citerior'' or ''Gallia Togata'') was the part of Italy Italy ( it, Italia ), officially the Italian Republic ( it, Repubblica Italiana, links=no ), is a country consisting of Ital ...
, divided into Cispadane Gaul (south of the Po) and Transpadane Gaul (north of the Po).


Geography

The Po has a drainage area of 74,000 km2 in all, 70,000 of those being in Italy, of which 41,000 is in
montane Montane ecosystems are found on the slopes of mountain A mountain is an elevated portion of the Earth's crust, generally with steep sides that show significant exposed bedrock. A mountain differs from a plateau in having a limited summit a ...

montane
environments and 29,000 on the plain. The slope of the Po's river valley decreases from 0.35% in the west to 0.14% in the east, a low gradient. Along its path lie 450 standing lakes. Almost all of the rest of the non-Italy basin is in the Italian speaking Ticino (Tessin) canton in Switzerland, and the outlying extreme south western section (again, Italian speaking) of Grigioni (Graubunden) canton lying to the south of the San Bernardino pass which forms the Po's watershed with the Posterior Rhine. The major tributary in question is the northern source half of the eponymous Ticino river (fed by its Moesa tributary in Grigioni) and the top third of the Alpine lake, Maggiore, formed by it. (The southern two thirds of Lake Maggiore and the southern half of the continuing Ticino River tributary are in Italian territory). A minute section of the Po basin belongs to France in the Valle Etroite (literally, the Narrow Valley) running from Mont Thabor to the Italian ski resort of Bardonecchia. Valle Etroite is so remote it is essentially administered by Italy (telephone network, rubbish collections etc.). Further minuscule parts of the Po's basin (measurable in the hundreds of metres of linear distance) within France are found in the form of small streamheads forced into France by the 1947 post war Peace Treaty of Paris as a punitive measure against Italy. These can be found on the Mont Cenis and Mongenevre passes. The former contains a reservoir dammed at the Po end and so technically constitutes part of its basin, although it contributes little to the water flow as the water is, by definition, retained by the dam. The Po is the longest river in Italy; at its widest point its width is .


Po Valley

The vast valley around the Po is called the Po Basin or
Po Valley The Po Valley, Po Plain, Plain of the Po, or Padan Plain ( it, Pianura Padana , or ''Val Padana'') is a major geographical feature of Northern Italy Northern Italy ( it, Italia settentrionale, it, Nord Italia, label=none, it, Alta Italia, ...
(Italian ''Pianura Padana'' or ''Val Padana''); in time it became the main industrial area of the country. In 2002, more than 16 million people lived there, at the time nearly one-third of the population of Italy. The two main economic uses of the valley are for industry and for agriculture. The industrial centres, such as
Turin Turin ( , Piedmontese Piedmontese (autonym: or , in it, piemontese) is a language spoken by some 700,000 people mostly in Piedmont it, Piemontese , population_note = , population_blank1_title = , population_blank1 = ...

Turin
and Milan, are located on higher terrain, away from the river. They rely for power on the numerous
hydroelectric Hydroelectricity, or hydroelectric power, is electricity produced from hydropower Hydropower (from el, ὕδωρ, "water"), also known as water power, is the use of falling or fast-running water Water (chemical formula H2O) is a ...
stations in or on the flanks of the Alps, and on the coal/oil power stations which use the water of the Po basin as coolant. Drainage from the north is mediated through several large, scenic lakes. The streams are now controlled by so many dams as to slow the river's
sedimentation Sedimentation is the deposition of sediments Sediment is a naturally occurring material that is broken down by processes of weathering Weathering is the deterioration of rocks In geology Geology (from the Ancient Greek γ ...
rate, causing geologic problems. The expansive, moist and fertile
flood plain A floodplain or flood plain or bottomlands is an area of land adjacent to a river which stretches from the banks of its channel to the base of the enclosing valley walls, and which experiences flooding during periods of high discharge.Goudi ...
is reserved mainly for agriculture and is subject to
flash floods A flash flood is a rapid flooding of low-lying areas: Washland, washes, rivers, dry lakes and Depression (geology), depressions. It may be caused by heavy rain associated with a severe thunderstorm, hurricane, tropical storm, or meltwater from ...
, even though the overall quantity of water is lower than in the past and lower than demand. The main products of the farms around the river are
cereal A cereal is any Poaceae, grass cultivated (grown) for the edible components of its grain (botanically, a type of fruit called a caryopsis), composed of the endosperm, cereal germ, germ, and bran. The term may also refer to the resulting grain ...

cereal
s including – unusually for Europe –
rice Rice is the seed A seed is an embryonic ''Embryonic'' is the twelfth studio album by experimental rock band the Flaming Lips released on October 13, 2009, on Warner Bros. Records, Warner Bros. The band's first double album, it was relea ...

rice
, which requires heavy
irrigation Irrigation is the agricultural Agriculture is the practice of cultivating plants and livestock. Agriculture was the key development in the rise of sedentary Image:Family watching television 1958.jpg, Exercise trends, Increases in seden ...

irrigation
. The latter method is the chief consumer of surface water, while industrial and human consumption use underground water.


Tributaries

The Po has 141
tributaries A tributary, or affluent, is a stream A stream is a body of water (Lysefjord) in Norway Norway, officially the Kingdom of Norway,Names in the official and recognised languages: Bokmål Bokmål (, ; literally "book tongue") ...
. They include (R on the right bank, L on the left, looking downstream): *
Pellice The Pellice (in Piedmontese ''Pélis'') is a Italy, Italian torrent (stream), torrent, which runs through the Metropolitan City of Turin. It is a tributary of the Po (river), Po River, into which it flows near Villafranca Piemonte. Geography The s ...
(L) * Varaita (R) * Maira (R) * (L) * Sangone (L) *
Dora Riparia The Dora Riparia (; pms, Dòira Rivaira; french: Doire Ripaire or ''Doire''; la, Duria minor) is an alpine river, a left-hand tributary of the Po. It is long (of which 5 km in France), with a drainage basin. It originates in the Cottian ...
(L) *
Stura di Lanzo Stura di Lanzo ( la, Varus) is a long river in north-western Italy Italy ( it, Italia ), officially the Italian Republic ( it, Repubblica Italiana, links=no ), is a country consisting of delimited by the and surrounding it, whose terr ...

Stura di Lanzo
(L) * Malone (L) *
Orco The Orco ( pms, Eva d'òr, that is lit. ''Water of gold''; la, Orgus) is an Italian Italian may refer to: * Anything of, from, or related to the country and nation of Italy ** Italians, an ethnic group or simply a citizen of the Italian Republi ...
(L) *
Dora Baltea Dora Baltea () or Doire Baltée () is a river in northwestern Italy. It is a tributary, left-hand tributary of the Po (river), Po and is about long. Name The river's Latin name was ''Duria maior'', ''Duria Baltica'' or ''Duria Bautica''. Stra ...
(L) * (R) *
Sesia The Sesia (Latin ''Sesites'' or ''Sessites'') is a river in Piedmont it, Piemontese , population_note = , population_blank1_title = , population_blank1 = , demographics_type1 = , demographics1_footnotes = , demograph ...

Sesia
(L) * Rotaldo (R) * Grana del Monferrato (R) *
Tanaro The Tanaro (; pms, Tane ; ; la, Tanarus), is a long river A river is a natural flowing watercourse, usually freshwater, flowing towards an ocean, sea, lake or another river. In some cases, a river flows into the ground and becomes ...

Tanaro
(R) *
Scrivia The Scrivia, long, is a right tributary A tributary or affluent is a stream or river that flows into a larger stream or main stem (or parent) river or a lake. A tributary does not flow directly into a sea or ocean. Tributaries and the main stem ...
(R) *
Agogna The Agogna (in Piedmontese Piedmontese (autonym: or , in it, piemontese) is a language spoken by some 700,000 people mostly in Piedmont it, Piemontese , population_note = , population_blank1_title = , population_blank1 = ...

Agogna
(L) *
Curone The Curone (in Piedmontese Piedmontese (autonym: or , in it, piemontese) is a language spoken by some 700,000 people mostly in Piedmont it, Piemontese , population_note = , population_blank1_title = , population_blank1 ...
(R) *
Staffora The Staffora is a river of the Oltrepò Pavese in the Province of Pavia, north-west Italy Italy ( it, Italia ), officially the Italian Republic ( it, Repubblica Italiana, links=no ), is a country consisting of a Northern Italy, continental p ...

Staffora
(R) *
Ticino Ticino (), sometimes Tessin (), officially the Republic and Canton of Ticino or less formally the Canton of Ticino,, informally ''Canton Ticino'' ; lmo, Canton Tesin ; german: Kanton Tessin ; french: canton du Tessin ; rm, chantun dal Tessin . ...
(L) * Versa (R) * Tidone (R) *
Lambro The Lambro ( lmo, Lamber or ''Lambar'' ) is a river of Lombardy, northern Italy, a left tributary of the Po River, Po. The Lambro rises from the Monte San Primo, elevation , near the Madonna del Ghisallo, Ghisallo, in the province of Como, not f ...

Lambro
(L) *
Trebbia The Trebbia (stressed ''Trèbbia''; la, Trebia) is a river A river is a natural flowing watercourse, usually freshwater, flowing towards an ocean, sea, lake or another river. In some cases a river flows into the ground and becomes dry at the ...

Trebbia
(R) *
Nure The Nure (Latin ''Nura'') is a small river in northern Italy Italy ( it, Italia ), officially the Italian Republic ( it, Repubblica Italiana, links=no ), is a country consisting of a peninsula delimited by the Alps The Alps ; germa ...
(R) *
Adda Adda or ADDA may refer to: People Given name * Adda Husted Andersen (1898–1990), Danish-born American Modernist jeweler, silversmith, metalsmith, and educator * Adda Angel, Cambodian songwriter and music producer * Adda bar Ahavah, two Jewi ...
(L) * Arda (R) *
Taro ''Colocasia esculenta'' is a tropical plant grown primarily for its edible corm A corm, bulbo-tuber, or bulbotuber is a short, vertical, swollen underground plant stem '' has lost its leaves, but is producing adventitious rootsImportant ...
(R) *
Parma Parma (; egl, Pärma, ) is a city in the northern Italian region of Emilia-Romagna famous for its architecture, Giuseppe Verdi, music, art, prosciutto (ham), Parmigiano-Reggiano, cheese and surrounding countryside. With a population of 198,292 ...
(R) *
Enza The Enza (; egl, Èinsa) is a river in northern Italy Italy ( it, Italia ), officially the Italian Republic ( it, Repubblica Italiana, links=no ), is a country consisting of a peninsula delimited by the Alps The Alps ; german: A ...

Enza
(R) *
Crostolo The Crostolo is a stream (a ...

Crostolo
(R) *
Oglio The Oglio (; Latin ''Ollius'', or ''Olius''; Lombard language, Lombard ''Òi''; Cremunés dialect, Cremonese ''Ùi'') is a left-side tributary of the river Po (river), Po in Lombardy, Italy. It is long. In the hierarchy of the Po's tributaries, ...

Oglio
(L) *
Mincio The Mincio (; Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language A classical language is a language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share" or "to be in rel ...

Mincio
(L) *
Secchia The Secchia (; egl, Sècia; called by Pliny Pliny may refer to: People from antiquity * Pliny the Elder (AD 23–79), ancient Roman nobleman, scientist, historian, and author of ''Naturalis Historia'' (''Pliny's Natural History'') * Pliny the ...

Secchia
(R) * Panaro (R) The
Reno Reno ( ) is a city A city is a large human settlement.Goodall, B. (1987) ''The Penguin Dictionary of Human Geography''. London: Penguin.Kuper, A. and Kuper, J., eds (1996) ''The Social Science Encyclopedia''. 2nd edition. London: Routledge. ...
(R) was a tributary of the Po until the middle of the eighteenth century when the course was diverted to lessen the risk of devastating floods. The
Tanaro The Tanaro (; pms, Tane ; ; la, Tanarus), is a long river A river is a natural flowing watercourse, usually freshwater, flowing towards an ocean, sea, lake or another river. In some cases, a river flows into the ground and becomes ...

Tanaro
is about 50 km (31 mi) longer than the upper Po at their confluence near
Alessandria Alessandria (; pms, Lissandria ) is a city and ''comune The (; plural: ) is a local administrative division of Italy Italy ( it, Italia ), officially the Italian Republic ( it, Repubblica Italiana, links=no ), is a country consis ...
.


Po Delta


Protected areas

The Po Delta wetlands have been protected by the institution of two regional parks in the
regions In geography Geography (from Greek: , ''geographia'', literally "earth description") is a field of science devoted to the study of the lands, features, inhabitants, and phenomena of the Earth and planets. The first person to use the wor ...

regions
in which it is situated:
Veneto it, Veneto (man) it, Veneta (woman) , population_note = , population_blank1_title = , population_blank1 = , demographics_type1 = , demographics1_footnotes = , demographics1_title1 = , demographics1_info1 = ...

Veneto
and
Emilia-Romagna Emilia-Romagna (, , both also ; ; egl, Emégglia-Rumâgna or ''Emîlia-Rumâgna''; rgn, Emélia-Rumâgna) is one of the 20 Regions of Italy, administrative regions of Italy, situated in the north of the country, comprising the historical regions ...

Emilia-Romagna
. The Po Delta Regional Park in Emilia-Romagna, the largest, consists of four parcels of land on the right bank of the Po and to the south. Created by law in 1988, it was managed by a consortium, the ''Consorzio per la gestione del Parco'', to which
Ferrara Ferrara (, ; egl, Fràra ) is a city and ''comune The (; plural: ) is a of , roughly equivalent to a or . Importance and function The provides essential public services: of births and deaths, , and maintenance of local roads and ...

Ferrara
and
Ravenna Ravenna ( , , also ; rgn, Ravèna) is the capital city of the Province of Ravenna The province of Ravenna ( it, provincia di Ravenna; ) is a province A province is almost always an administrative division Administrative division, admin ...

Ravenna
provinces belong as well as nine
comuni The (; plural: ) is a Administrative division, local administrative division of Italy, roughly equivalent to a township or municipality. Importance and function The provides essential public services: Civil registry, registry of births a ...
:
Comacchio Comacchio (; egl, label=Emilian language, Comacchiese, Cmâc' ) is a town and ''comune'' of Emilia Romagna, Italy, in the province of Ferrara, from the provincial capital Ferrara. It was founded about two thousand years ago; across its history it ...

Comacchio
, Argenta, Ostellato, Goro,
Mesola Mesola (Emilian language, Ferrarese: ) is a ''comune'' (municipality) in the Province of Ferrara in the Italy, Italian region Emilia-Romagna, located about northeast of Bologna and about east of Ferrara. As of 31 December 2004, it had a populatio ...

Mesola
, Codigoro,
Ravenna Ravenna ( , , also ; rgn, Ravèna) is the capital city of the Province of Ravenna The province of Ravenna ( it, provincia di Ravenna; ) is a province A province is almost always an administrative division Administrative division, admin ...

Ravenna
,
Alfonsine Alfonsine ( rgn, Agl'infulsẽ or ''Agl'infulsèn'') is a ''comune The (; plural: ) is a Administrative division, local administrative division of Italy, roughly equivalent to a township or municipality. Importance and function The p ...
, and
Cervia Cervia ( rgn, Zirvia) is a seaside resort town in the province of Ravenna Ravenna ( , , also ; rgn, Ravèna) is the capital city of the Province of Ravenna The province of Ravenna ( it, provincia di Ravenna; ) is a province A province i ...
. Executive authority resided in an assembly of the presidents of the provinces, the mayors of the comuni and the board of directors. They employed a Technical-Scientific Committee and a Park Council to carry out directives. In 1999 the park was designated a
World Heritage Site A World Heritage Site is a landmark or area with legal protection by an international convention administered by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). World Heritage Sites are designated by UNESCO for h ...
by
UNESCO The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) (french: Organisation des Nations unies pour l'éducation, la science et la culture) is a specialised agency United Nations Specialized Agencies are autonomous orga ...

UNESCO
and was added to "Ferrara, City of the Renaissance, and its Po Delta." From 2012 the park is managed by the ''Ente di Gestione per i Parchi e la Biodiversità - Delta del Po'', composed by the ''comuni'' of Alfonsine, Argenta, Cervia, Codigoro, Comacchio, Goro, Mesola, Ostellato and Ravenna. The of the park contain wetlands, forest, dunes and salt pans. It has a high
biodiversity Biodiversity is the biological variety and Genetic variability, variability of life, life on Earth. Biodiversity is a measure of variation at the Genetics, genetic, species, and ecosystem level. Terrestrial biodiversity is usually greater near ...

biodiversity
, with 1000–1100 plant species and 374 vertebrate species, of which 300 are birds.


The active delta

The most recent part of the delta, which projects into the
Adriatic The Adriatic Sea () is a body of water separating the Italian Peninsula from the Balkans. The Adriatic is the northernmost arm of the Mediterranean Sea, extending from the Strait of Otranto (where it connects to the Ionian Sea) to the northwest a ...

Adriatic
between
Chioggia Chioggia (; vec, Cióxa , locally ; la, Clodia) is a coastal town and ''comune The (; plural: ) is a basic Administrative division, constituent entity of Italy, roughly equivalent to a township or municipality. Importance and funct ...

Chioggia
and
Comacchio Comacchio (; egl, label=Emilian language, Comacchiese, Cmâc' ) is a town and ''comune'' of Emilia Romagna, Italy, in the province of Ferrara, from the provincial capital Ferrara. It was founded about two thousand years ago; across its history it ...

Comacchio
, contains channels that actually connect to the Adriatic and on that account is called the active delta by the park authorities, as opposed to the fossil delta, which contains channels that no longer connect the Po to the Adriatic (but once did). The active delta was created in 1604 when the city of
Venice Venice ( ; it, Venezia ; vec, Venesia or ) is a city in northeastern Italy Italy ( it, Italia ), officially the Italian Republic ( it, Repubblica Italiana, links=no ), is a country consisting of delimited by the and surrounding ...

Venice
diverted the main stream, the ''Po grande'' or ''Po di Venezia'', from its channel north of to the south of Porto Viro in a channel then called the ''Taglio di Porto Viro'', "Porto Viro cut-off". Their intent was to stop the gradual migration of the Po toward the lagoon of Venice, which would have filled up with sediment had contact been made. The subsequent town of Taglio di Po grew around the diversionary works. The lock of ''Volta Grimana'' blocked the old channel, now the ''Po di Levante'', which flows to the Adriatic through Porto Levante. Below ''Taglio di Po'' the ''Parco Regionale Veneto'', one of the tracts under the authority of the ''Parco Delta del Po'', contains the latest branches of the Po. The ''Po di Gnocca'' branches to the south followed by the ''Po di Maestra'' to the north at Porto Tolle. At Tolle downstream the ''Po di Venezia'' divides into the ''Po delle Tolle'' to the south and the ''Po della Pila'' to the north. The former exits at Bonelli. The latter divides again at Pila into the ''Busa di Tramontana'' to the north and the ''Busa di Scirocco'' to the south, while the mainstream, the ''Busa Dritta'', enters ''Punta Maistra'' and exits finally past Pila lighthouse. Despite the park administration's definition of the active delta as beginning at Porto Viro, there is another active channel upstream from it at Santa Maria in Punta, where the ''Fiume Po'' divides into the ''Po di Goro'' and the ''Po di Venezia''.


The fossil delta

The fossil Po is the region of no longer active channels from the Po to the sea. It begins upstream from
Ferrara Ferrara (, ; egl, Fràra ) is a city and ''comune The (; plural: ) is a of , roughly equivalent to a or . Importance and function The provides essential public services: of births and deaths, , and maintenance of local roads and ...

Ferrara
. The ''Fiume Po'' currently flowing to the north of Ferrara is actually the result of a diversion at Ficarolo in 1152 made in the hope of relieving flooding in the vicinity of
Ravenna Ravenna ( , , also ; rgn, Ravèna) is the capital city of the Province of Ravenna The province of Ravenna ( it, provincia di Ravenna; ) is a province A province is almost always an administrative division Administrative division, admin ...

Ravenna
. The diversion channel was at first called the ''Po di Ficarolo''. The ''Fiume Po'' before then followed the ''Po di Volano'', no longer connected to the Po, which ran to the south of Ferrara and exited near
Volano Volano is a ''Communes of Trentino, comune'' (municipality) in Trentino in the northern Italy, Italian region Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol, located about south of Trento. As of 31 December 2004, it had a population of 2,851 and an area of .All de ...
. In Roman times it did not exit there but ran to the south as the ''Padus Vetus'' ("old Po") exiting near
Comacchio Comacchio (; egl, label=Emilian language, Comacchiese, Cmâc' ) is a town and ''comune'' of Emilia Romagna, Italy, in the province of Ferrara, from the provincial capital Ferrara. It was founded about two thousand years ago; across its history it ...

Comacchio
, from which split the ''Po di Primaro'' exiting close to
Ravenna Ravenna ( , , also ; rgn, Ravèna) is the capital city of the Province of Ravenna The province of Ravenna ( it, provincia di Ravenna; ) is a province A province is almost always an administrative division Administrative division, admin ...

Ravenna
. Before 1152 the seaward extension of today's delta, about , did not exist. The entire region from Ravenna to Chioggia was dense swamps, explaining why the
Via Aemilia The ( it, Via Emilia; en, Aemilian Way) was a trunk Roman road in the north Italian plain, running from ''Ariminum'' ( Rimini), on the Adriatic coast, to ''Placentia'' ( Piacenza) on the river ''Padus'' ( Po). It was completed in 187 BC. The ...
was constructed between
Rimini Rimini ( , ; rgn, Rémin; la, Ariminum) is a city in the Emilia-Romagna region of northern Italy and capital city of the Province of Rimini. It sprawls along the Adriatic Sea, on the coast between the rivers Marecchia (the ancient ''Ariminus ...

Rimini
and
Piacenza Piacenza (; egl, label=Piacentino dialect, Piacentino, Piaṡëinsa ; ) is a city and ''comune'' in the Emilia-Romagna region of northern Italy, the capital of the province of Piacenza, eponymous province. The etymology is long-standing, tracing ...
and did not begin further north.


Geologic history

The
Mediterranean Basin In biogeography, the Mediterranean Basin (also known as the Mediterranean region or sometimes Mediterranea) is the region of lands around the Mediterranean Sea The Mediterranean Sea is a sea connected to the Atlantic Ocean, surrounded by ...
is a depression in the
Earth Earth is the third planet from the Sun and the only astronomical object known to harbour and support life. 29.2% of Earth's surface is land consisting of continents and islands. The remaining 70.8% is Water distribution on Earth, covered wi ...

Earth
's crust caused by the
African Plate The African Plate is a major tectonic plate straddling the Equator The Equator is a circle of latitude, about in circumference, that divides Earth into the Northern Hemisphere, Northern and Southern Hemisphere, Southern hemispheres. It i ...
slipping under the
Eurasian Plate The Eurasian Plate is a tectonic plate This is a list of tectonic plates on Earth's surface. Tectonic plates are pieces of Earth's crust and uppermost mantle, together referred to as the lithosphere. The plates are around thick and consist ...
. Typically in geologic history the depression is filled with sea water under various geologic names such as
Tethys Sea The Tethys Ocean ( el, Τηθύς ''Tēthús''), also called the Tethys Sea or the Neo-Tethys, was an ocean during much of the Mesozoic The Mesozoic Era ( ), also called the Age of Reptiles and the Age of Conifers, is the second-to-last era ...
. In the last period of the
Miocene The Miocene ( ) is the first geological epoch In geochronology, an epoch is a subdivision of the geologic timescale that is longer than an age (geology), age but shorter than a period (geology), period. The current epoch is the Holocene Epoch of ...
Epoch, the
Messinian The Messinian is in the geologic timescale The geologic time scale (GTS) is a system of chronological datingChronological dating, or simply dating, is the process of attributing to an object or event a date in the past, allowing such object o ...
(7–5 mya), the
Messinian salinity crisis The Messinian salinity crisis (MSC), also referred to as the Messinian event, and in its latest stage as the Lago Mare event, was a geological event during which the Mediterranean Sea went into a cycle of partial or nearly complete desiccation (dr ...
, a near drying of the Mediterranean, was caused by the sea level dropping below the sill at the
Strait of Gibraltar The Strait of Gibraltar ( ar, مضيق جبل طارق, Maḍīq Jabal Ṭāriq; es, Estrecho de Gibraltar, Archaic Archaic is a period of time preceding a designated classical period, or something from an older period of time that is also no ...

Strait of Gibraltar
and the
equilibrium List of types of equilibrium, the condition of a system in which all competing influences are balanced, in a wide variety of contexts. Equilibrium may also refer to: Film and television * Equilibrium (film), ''Equilibrium'' (film), a 2002 scien ...
between evaporation and replenishment shifting in favor of evaporation. At that time the Po Valley and the
Adriatic The Adriatic Sea () is a body of water separating the Italian Peninsula from the Balkans. The Adriatic is the northernmost arm of the Mediterranean Sea, extending from the Strait of Otranto (where it connects to the Ionian Sea) to the northwest a ...

Adriatic
depression were a single
canyon A canyon (; archaic British English British English (BrE) is the standard dialect A standard language (also standard variety, standard dialect, and standard) is a language variety that has undergone substantial codification of grammar a ...

canyon
system thousands of feet deep. On the southwest the
Apennine Mountains The Apennines or Apennine Mountains (; grc-gre, links=no, Ἀπέννινα ὄρη or Ἀπέννινον ὄρος; la, Appenninus or  – a singular with plural meaning;''Apenninus'' (Greek or ) has the form of an adjective, which wou ...

Apennine Mountains
bordered a land mass termed Tyrrhenis geologically. Their
orogeny Orogeny is the primary mechanism by which mountains are formed on continents. An orogeny is an event that takes place at a convergent plate margin when plate motion compresses the margin. This leads to both structural deformation Deformation ...
was just being completed in the Miocene. On the north the
Alpine Orogeny The Alpine orogeny or Alpide orogeny is an orogenic An orogeny is an event that leads to both structural Deformation (physics), deformation and compositional differentiation of the Earth's lithosphere (Crust (geology), crust and uppermost Mant ...
had already created the
Alps The Alps ; german: Alpen ; it, Alpi ; rm, Alps; sl, Alpe ) are the highest and most extensive mountain range A mountain range is a series of mountains ranged in a line and connected by high ground. A mountain system or mountain belt ...
. At the end of the Messinian the ocean broke through the sill and the Mediterranean refilled. The Adriatic transgressed into all of northern Italy. In the subsequent
Pliocene The Pliocene ( ; also Pleiocene) epoch (geology), Epoch is the epoch in the geologic timescale that extends from 5.333 million to 2.58Adriatic The Adriatic Sea () is a body of water separating the Italian Peninsula from the Balkans. The Adriatic is the northernmost arm of the Mediterranean Sea, extending from the Strait of Otranto (where it connects to the Ionian Sea) to the northwest a ...

Adriatic
generally to a depth of to but from to off the current mouth of the Po, with pockets as deep as . At the start of the
Pleistocene The Pleistocene ( , often referred to as the ''Ice Age'') is the geological Epoch (geology), epoch that lasted from about 2,580,000 to 11,700 years ago, spanning the earth’s most recent period of repeated glaciations. Before a change finally ...
the valley was full. Cycles of transgression and regression are detectable in the valley and the Adriatic as far as its centre and in the southern Adriatic. From the Pleistocene alternation of maritime and alluvial sediments occur as far west as
Piacenza Piacenza (; egl, label=Piacentino dialect, Piacentino, Piaṡëinsa ; ) is a city and ''comune'' in the Emilia-Romagna region of northern Italy, the capital of the province of Piacenza, eponymous province. The etymology is long-standing, tracing ...
. The exact sequences at various locations have been studied extensively. Apparently the sea advanced and receded over the valley in conformance to an equilibrium between sedimentation and glacial advance or recession at 100,000-year intervals and to fluctuation of sea level. An advance began after the
Last Glacial Maximum The Last Glacial Maximum (LGM), also referred to as the Late Glacial Maximum, was the most recent time during the Last Glacial Period that ice sheets In glaciology Lateral moraine on a glacier joining the Gorner Glacier, Zermatt">Gorner_Gla ...
around 20,000 years ago, which brought the Adriatic to a high point at about 5500 years ago. Since then the Po
delta Delta commonly refers to: * Delta (letter) (Δ or δ), a letter of the Greek alphabet * River delta, a landform at the mouth of a river * D (NATO phonetic alphabet: "Delta"), the fourth letter of the modern English alphabet * Delta Air Lines, an Ame ...

delta
had been prograding. The rate of coastal zone progradation between 1000 BC and 1200 AD was 4 m/yr. Human factors, however, brought about a change in the equilibrium in the mid-20th century with the result that the entire coastline of the northern Adriatic is now degrading.
Venice Venice ( ; it, Venezia ; vec, Venesia or ) is a city in northeastern Italy Italy ( it, Italia ), officially the Italian Republic ( it, Repubblica Italiana, links=no ), is a country consisting of delimited by the and surrounding ...

Venice
, which was originally built on islands off the coast, is most at risk due to subsidence, but the effect is realized in the Po delta as well. The causes are first a decrease in the sedimentation rate due to the locking of sediment behind hydroelectric dams and the deliberate excavation of sand from rivers for industrial purposes. Second, agricultural use of the river is heavy; during peak consumption the flow in places nearly dries up, causing local contention. As a result of decreased flow salt water is intruding into the
aquifer An aquifer is an underground layer of water Water (chemical formula H2O) is an , transparent, tasteless, odorless, and , which is the main constituent of 's and the s of all known living organisms (in which it acts as a ). It is vital ...

aquifer
s and coastal ground water.
Eutrophication Eutrophication (from Greek ''eutrophos'', "well-nourished") is the process by which an entire body of water (Lysefjord) in Norway Norway, officially the Kingdom of Norway,Names in the official and recognised languages: Bokmål Bokm ...

Eutrophication
in standing waters and streams of low flow is on the increase. The valley is subsiding due to the removal of ground water.


Human Impacts


Pollution

Always prone to fog, the valley is subject to heavy smog due to industrial atmospheric emissions, especially from
Turin Turin ( , Piedmontese Piedmontese (autonym: or , in it, piemontese) is a language spoken by some 700,000 people mostly in Piedmont it, Piemontese , population_note = , population_blank1_title = , population_blank1 = ...

Turin
. The city of Milan had no sewage treatment plants. Sewage went through channels directly into the Po, for which the
European Environment Agency The European Environment Agency (EEA) is the agency of the European Union (EU) which provides independent information on the environment. Definition The European Environment Agency (EEA) is the agency of the European Union (EU) which provides in ...
cited the city. Since 2005, all sewage from Milan is treated in plants at Nosedo, San Rocco and Peschiera Borromeo. These treat the sewage from over 2.5 million inhabitants. In 2005, water from the Po was found to contain much
benzoylecgonine Benzoylecgonine is the main metabolite In biochemistry Biochemistry or biological chemistry, is the study of chemical processes within and relating to living organisms. A sub-discipline of both chemistry and biology, biochemistry may be divide ...

benzoylecgonine
, passed by
cocaine Cocaine (from , from , ultimately from Quechuan languages, Quechua: ''kúka'') is a tropane alkaloid and stimulant drug obtained primarily from the leaves of two coca species native to South America, ''Erythroxylum coca'' and ''Erythroxylu ...

cocaine
users in
urine Urine is a liquid by-product A by-product or byproduct is a secondary product derived from a production process, process or ; it is not the primary product or service being produced. A by-product can be useful and marketable or it can be cons ...

urine
. Based on these figures, cocaine consumption was estimated to be about 4 kg daily, or 27 doses per day per thousand young adults in the
drainage basin A drainage basin is any area of land where precipitation collects and drains off into a common outlet, such as into a river, bay, or other body of water. The drainage basin includes all the surface water from surface runoff, rain runoff, snowm ...

drainage basin
– nearly three times higher than estimated. On February 24, 2010, the Po was contaminated by an
oil spill An oil spill is the release of a liquid petroleum Petroleum, also known as crude oil and oil, is a naturally occurring, yellowish-black liquid A liquid is a nearly incompressible In fluid mechanics or more generally continuum ...

oil spill
coming from a refinery in
Villasanta Villasanta is a ''comune The (; plural: ) is a basic Administrative division, constituent entity of Italy, roughly equivalent to a township or municipality. Importance and function The provides many of the basic civil functions: Civil r ...
through the
Lambro The Lambro ( lmo, Lamber or ''Lambar'' ) is a river of Lombardy, northern Italy, a left tributary of the Po River, Po. The Lambro rises from the Monte San Primo, elevation , near the Madonna del Ghisallo, Ghisallo, in the province of Como, not f ...

Lambro
, the
Agenzia Nazionale Stampa Associata The Agenzia Nazionale Stampa Associata (ANSA; literally "National Associated Press Agency") is the leading wire service in Italy. ANSA is a not-for-profit cooperative, whose members and owners are 36 leading news organizations in Italy. Its missi ...
news agency has estimated it to be about 600,000 liters.


Water resource management

Until 1989 water resources were administered regionally or locally. The major authority on the lower Po was the ''Magistrato alle Acque di Venezia'', first formed in the 16th-century
Republic of Venice The Republic of Venice ( it, Repubblica di Venezia; vec, Repùblega de Venèsia) or Venetian Republic ( it, Repubblica Veneta; vec, Repùblega Vèneta), traditionally known as La Serenissima ( en, Most Serene Republic Most Serene Republic ( ...
. It made all the decisions concerning the diversion of the lower river. Most part of the delta is still in
Veneto it, Veneto (man) it, Veneta (woman) , population_note = , population_blank1_title = , population_blank1 = , demographics_type1 = , demographics1_footnotes = , demographics1_title1 = , demographics1_info1 = ...

Veneto
. In 1907 under the
Kingdom of Italy The Kingdom of Italy ( it, Regno d'Italia) was a state that existed from 1861—when King Victor Emmanuel II en, Victor Emmanuel Mario Albert Eugene Ferdinand Thomas , house = House of Savoy, Savoy , father = Charles Albert o ...

Kingdom of Italy
the agency became the ''Magistrato alle Acque'' and took responsibility for all the water resources in northeastern Italy. Currently it is a decentralized institution of the Ministry of Public Works, headed by a chairman appointed by the Head of State and the Council of Ministers. Its headquarters are in Venice. Its domain is the management and protection of the water system in
Veneto it, Veneto (man) it, Veneta (woman) , population_note = , population_blank1_title = , population_blank1 = , demographics_type1 = , demographics1_footnotes = , demographics1_title1 = , demographics1_info1 = ...

Veneto
,
Mantua Mantua ( ; it, Mantova ; Lombard The term Lombard refers to members of or things related to Lombardy (man) it, Lombarda (woman) lmo, Lombard (man) lmo, Lombarda (woman) , population_note = , population_blank1_title ...

Mantua
,
Trento Trento ( or ; Ladin and lmo, Trent; german: Trient ; cim, Tria; ), also anglicized as Trent, is a city on the Adige River The Adige (; german: Etsch ; vec, Àdexe ; rm, ; lld, Adesc; la, Athesis; grc, Ἄθεσις, Áthesis, or , '' ...

Trento
,
Bolzano Bolzano ( or ; german: Bozen (formerly ), ; bar, Bozn; lld, Balsan or ) is the capital city A capital or capital city is the municipality holding primary status in a Department (country subdivision), department, country, Constituent state, ...

Bolzano
and
Friuli-Venezia Giulia (man), it, Friulana (woman), it, Giuliano (man), it, Giuliana (woman) , population_note= , population_blank1_title= , population_blank1= , demographics_type1= , demographics1_footnotes= , demographics1_title1= , demographics1_info1= , d ...
. In 1989 in response to the major geologic problems that were developing along the river Law no. 183/89 was passed authorizing The Po Basin Water Board (Autorità di bacino del fiume Po), which would direct operations concerning all the water resources in the Po basin (see under
Po Valley The Po Valley, Po Plain, Plain of the Po, or Padan Plain ( it, Pianura Padana , or ''Val Padana'') is a major geographical feature of Northern Italy Northern Italy ( it, Italia settentrionale, it, Nord Italia, label=none, it, Alta Italia, ...
). Its headquarters have been in
Parma Parma (; egl, Pärma, ) is a city in the northern Italian region of Emilia-Romagna famous for its architecture, Giuseppe Verdi, music, art, prosciutto (ham), Parmigiano-Reggiano, cheese and surrounding countryside. With a population of 198,292 ...

Parma
since its inception in 1990. It considers itself a synergy among all the institutions concerned with the preservation and development of the Po basin. It is administered by officials chosen from the administrations of the constituent regions and provinces. In 2009 the water board began its Integrated River Basin Management Plan to meet the
European Union The European Union (EU) is a political and economic union of member states that are located primarily in Europe Europe is a which is also recognised as part of , located entirely in the and mostly in the . It comprises the wester ...

European Union
(EU)
Water Framework Directive The Water Framework Directive 2000/60/EC is an EU directive which commits European Union The European Union (EU) is a political and economic union of Member state of the European Union, member states that are located primarily in Europ ...
, 2000/60/EC. This takes in water management and flood risk plans antecedent. Between 2009 and 2015 the Po Valley Project (the implementation of the plan) took more than 60 measures, notably to: heighten and strengthen levees, increase
flood-meadow A flood-meadow (or floodmeadow) is an area of grassland Grasslands are areas where the vegetation Vegetation is an assemblage of plant Plants are predominantly photosynthetic eukaryotes of the Kingdom (biology), kingdom Plantae. His ...
s, resume natural sediment transport and deposition points, enlarge wetlands, afforest, re-nature, promote biodiversity and recreational use.


Dams

At the village of Isola Serafini in the comune of Monticelli d'Ongina, Piacenza Province, downstream from Piacenza, a long, high gate dam featuring eleven openings gated by vertical lift gates, crosses the Po. Nine gates are high and two are high for sediment-scouring purposes. A spillway to the right passes through a hydroelectric station of 4 generators of 76 MW each operated by a head of water. The spillway connects to a diversionary canal subtending a loop of the Po. A ship lock long and wide next to the station passes some traffic through the canal, but above the dam traffic is mainly barges. The average flow at the dam is 854 m3/s, with a 12,800 m3/s maximum.


Cultural history

The Po is first certainly identified in the Graeco-Roman historians and geographers of the late Roman Republic and the early Roman Empire, long after the valley had been occupied successively by prehistoric and historic peoples: Ligures, Etruscans, Celts, Adriatic Veneti, Veneti, Umbri, and Romans. At that late date the ancient authors were attempting to explain the provenance of the name. Perhaps the earliest of these, Polybius (2nd century BC), uses ''Pados'' (in Greek) and says that it was to be identified with the ''Eridanos'' of the poets. Moreover, the country people call it ''Bodencus''. This implies that a "country" population either remained from prehistoric times or adopted the name in use by that substrate. The name has been segmented as ''Bod-encus'' or ''Bod-incus'', the suffix being characteristic of the ancient Ligurian language (ancient), Ligurian language of northern Italy, southern France, Prehistory of Corsica#Ligurian hypothesis, Corsica and elsewhere. Pliny the Elder has the most to say about the ''Padus'' of his times. Herodotus had expressed doubt concerning the existence of a river in Europe, ''Eridanos'', which flowed into the northern sea, he said, from which amber came. He believed it was a Greek name (there are other Eridanos rivers in Greece), "invented by some poet," but makes no conjectures as to where it might be. Pliny points out that in his own time the Eridanos had become wrongly identified with the ''Padus''. He does not know when or how, but like Herodotus he blames the poets.''Natural History (Pliny), Historia Naturalis'', Book 37, Chapter 11. Amber is supposed to have come from there. Phaethon, Phaëthon, son of the sun, struck by lightning changed into poplars and exuded tears every year, which is the source of amber (a myth of Pausanias (geographer), Pausanias). Expressing surprise at the ignorance of the poets, Pliny says "There can be no doubt that amber is the product of the islands of the northern ocean (Baltic Sea)" and attributes its introduction into the Po valley to the Adriatic Veneti, Veneti, the last link in a trade route to the north through Pannonia and Germany. Pliny (''Hist. Nat.'', iii. 122) also gives the Ligurian name of the Po as ''Bodincus'', which he translates as "bottomless". The root ''bod-'' has been generally analyzed as containing the Proto-Indo-European language, PIE base *- seen in Sanskrit and Avestan language, Avestan ''buna''- "bottom", Greek language, Greek "foundation", Latin "bottom", Old Irish ''bond'' "sole of the foot". The word ''Bodincus'' appears in the toponym, place name Bodincomagus, a Ligures, Ligurian town on the right bank of the Po downstream from today's Turin. The Po, along with other rivers in northern Italy, was the scene of numerous military episodes throughout the Middle Ages and all the major cities and coastal lordships were equipped with real river fleets.


Mythology

The Po is often identified with the Eridanos (river of Hades), Eridanos or Eridanus river of Greek mythology. This mythical river is the namesake of the Eridanus (constellation), constellation Eridanus.


See also

* Lunghin Pass (triple watershed: Po-Rhine-Danube) * Witenwasserenstock (triple watershed: Rhone-Rhine-Po)


References


External links

* * {{Authority control Po (river), Po basin, Waterways of Italy Rivers of the Province of Cuneo Rivers of the Province of Turin Rivers of the Province of Vercelli Rivers of the Province of Alessandria Rivers of the Province of Pavia Rivers of the Province of Lodi Rivers of the Province of Cremona Rivers of the Province of Mantua Rivers of the Province of Piacenza Rivers of the Province of Parma Rivers of the Province of Reggio Emilia Rivers of the Province of Ferrara Rivers of the Province of Rovigo Rivers of Italy Braided rivers in Italy