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Water, the lifeblood

Water is an essential element and the very lifeblood of Riserva San Massimo.

The nature reserve is situated in the Ticino valley, an extremely rare environment, speaking from a scenic point of view. The eponymous river is actually one of very few lowland streams that can “divagate”, thus change its own route, creating small distributaries, river beds, ponds and numerous temporary “wetlands”.

Besides, the territory is interspersed by karst springs, so called “risorgive”: from alpine glaciers, passing lands with very diverse types of soil, this water emerges on the impermeable grounds of the Po valley.

44 springs, the “risorgive” are situated inside the riserva, where water wells forth in its purest form, clear and rich in mineral salts. The water has a steady temperature (9°-12°) and is enough to irrigate the vegetative soil in the forested areas all year long. Crossing more than 400 hectares of forest and the peaty soil of the Riserva San Massimo, the water accumulates organic substances before eventually and naturally arriving on the rice fields.

The entity enjoys complete water autonomy. Supplying all the fields and reaching directly all the cultivated grounds, the water always remains pure and rich in organic substances.

And not only. These inexhaustible water reserves that feed the area, allow many different animal species to fulfill their own life cycle, even in drought periods. It also guarantees the presence of many frogs on the fields that counteract the rice weevil, a curculionidae that is known for eating the rice roots.

Besides, the fontanili guarantee the vitality and the mobility of fish species, amphibians, insects and birds, nesting as well as hibernating ones.

Risorgive and fontanili

Where the permeable meets the impermeable soil, between high- and lowlands , the underground water reemerges, creating the so-called “risorgive”. These points of origin are formed naturally depending on the structure of the subsoil and are commonly called springs when the way in which they emerge is corresponding to founts and is level with the plain land.

The constant temperature and the richness in mineral substances of the risorgive’s water (9-12°C all year long) determines a brisk microclimatic zone during the summer and mild one during winter.

The fontanili however are man-made. These catch basins were created, originally for irrigating the surrounding grounds, digging closely to the groundwater reserves or by taking an already existing risorgiva as a starting point.