Public fountains, water waste and SOA certification

How to use water sustainably and correctly even in times of drought
Public fountains, water waste and SOA certification

Public procurement plays a fundamental role in our country’s economy for the construction of infrastructure and community services. Due to the increasing focus on revitalizing villages and “abandoned” areas in large cities, we often engage in public administration projects aimed at restoring or constructing new fountains.

Governments decide to invest in fountains for several reasons, primarily due to their well-known ability to aesthetically enhance a place and quickly transform it into a meeting and socializing point. An important but often overlooked factor is the opportunity to improve the efficiency of water supply in the area when redeveloping or restoring a fountain. In Italy, aqueducts are one of the main contributors to water wastage, with an average loss of 41.4 liters per 100 liters introduced into the distribution networks. Italy unfortunately holds the record for one of the highest water withdrawal rates for drinking consumption in Europe, largely due to outdated infrastructure, poor maintenance, and obsolete materials. Additionally, many ornamental fountains lack a recirculation system, resulting in immediate dispersion of the introduced water into the supply, wasting a valuable resource. Restoring a fountain also presents an opportunity to address the real issue of water waste in a cohesive manner. During periods of drought, it is futile to simply close ornamental fountains, where water is constantly reused, without addressing the water supply system, which on average wastes 40% of the introduced water, leading to significant environmental, social, and economic repercussions.


In urban design, fountains are highly sought-after elements and are increasingly integrated into development and redevelopment plans. Alongside other components such as street furniture, sidewalks, parks, and squares, fountains and water features are integral to urban planning for creating attractive and functional public spaces. However, in designing the cities of tomorrow, we must always consider sustainable design principles to ensure the long-term success of these projects. Spaces enriched with fountains have greater aesthetic appeal and attractiveness compared to those without a water element. Nevertheless, water is a precious resource that needs to be conserved. Therefore, it is crucial to incorporate all aspects of Mechanical, Electrical, and Plumbing (MEP) planning to create sustainable fountains that constantly reuse water, utilize anemometers (to adjust jet height in case of strong winds), and employ low-energy consumption pumps for water filtration and circulation.

It is widely recognized that fountains have a positive impact on the quality of the urban environment. Water usage, with its cooling and humidifying effects, contributes to creating a more comfortable environment for residents and visitors while improving air quality. Water particles act as a natural filter for dust and pollutants. However, not all fountains are equal. A sustainable fountain must aim to minimize its environmental impact during operation, as there are numerous technical solutions available to avoid water wastage. Moreover, the water used in fountains must be safe and properly treated. This can be achieved through tailored water chlorination and acidification systems or by implementing biological filtration systems that enable water reuse for irrigation purposes.

Incorporating sustainable fountains into urban design offers numerous benefits, including water conservation, reduced environmental impact, improved air quality, enhanced human well-being, and increased tourist attraction. These factors contribute to creating more livable and harmonious communities in harmony with the surrounding environment.


For a Public Administration looking to assign the construction of a fountain, managing contracts can often be complex, particularly in ensuring transparency, quality, and regulatory compliance of the contracting companies. To streamline the bureaucratic process related to work assignments, the requirement of SOA certification has been in place for years. This certification serves as an essential tool for safeguarding public interest and guaranteeing excellent results through the selection of qualified and reliable companies.

As of June 2023, companies holding the SOA certification can participate in public tenders for amounts exceeding €150,000. The certification is divided into 52 categories of works and 10 classifications, commensurate with the capacity and experience demonstrated by the company to the Attestation Body. For fountains and water features, the SOA category is not unique but depends on the specific characteristics of the project.


SOA certification ensures that selected companies possess the necessary technical requirements to participate in public works contracts and, if awarded, successfully carry out the assigned work. It evaluates the technical quality of the works by imposing specific requirements on companies, such as having qualified personnel, utilizing appropriate equipment, and adhering to expected delivery times. These aspects are essential to ensure that the created works are safe, compliant with sector regulations, and meet the required quality standards.

The relationship between public procurement and SOA certification is closely tied to safeguarding public interest and ensuring transparency and fairness in the selection process. Through the evaluation of qualified companies, it aims to promote effective and efficient use of public funds while reducing the risk of underperformance, fraud, and corruption.

Ecosistem sas, which includes Forme d’Acqua Venice Fountains, obtained the SOA certification in 2023 for the OG 6 – cat II and OS 24 – cat II categories. This certification positions us as a suitable partner for managing public contracts with a value of up to €516,000.


Susanna Dei Rossi

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