During the centuries, the inhabitants of the area has been always tried to take advantage of the abundance of water available and of the particular geo-morphological content of the area. Until the second half of the XIX century, the Nera and Velino waters had been used for irrigation, through the works of canalization, and for the working of the hydraulic wheels for mills and factories.
After the Italy Union in 1861, Gioacchino Pepoli, extraordinary general commissioner for Umbria, symbolized for Terni the role of the “an industrial commercial and working city of the New Italy”. During those years, the two projects for using the Velino waters weren’t realized.
In 1869 Pietro Maestri general director of Statistics of the commercial, industrial and agricultural Ministry, confirmed that the Velino and the Nera waters produced an hydraulic potential of 200,000h vapour.
Between 1873 1879 designed by the engineer Sconocchia, the Nerino channel was built in order to feed the Weapons Factory, started in Terni in 1879, and then provided engine power also for the other factories such as the Gruber Wool Mill, Centurini Jute Mill, the Foundry and the Industrial Society in Valnerina. For the realization and the management of the channel was formed an association promoted and lead by the Municipality of Terni and also the industrials Cini, Gruber and Cassian Bon. The Nerino channel, over 2 kilometres in length carried an average volume of 27 metres2 of water a second.
The use of the Velino waters for industrial purposes materialized, instead, in 1886 when a derivation of 5 mc/s was realized from the Curiano channel at the height of Marmore. Using the Collestatte well as a clarification bed, through a water course of about 6 and an half kilometres, with a 200 metredifference in height, inside the galleries and penstocks, arrived at the bottom, providing the necessary engine power for the working of all the machinery of the Terni Steelworks, the first in Italy, built between 1884 and 1886 by the Society of “Iron and Steel of Terni” (SAFFAT). It was the first application on a large scale of the hydraulic energy realized in.
In 1896 the carbide society inaugurated in Collestatte the first Italian plant for the production of carbide which followed 1901 in Papigno (some of the buildings are now cinematographic studios used also by Roberto Benigni to make films such as “la vita è bella” and “Pinocchio”). Apart from the SAFFAT, in the first years of 1900, other plants acquired concessions for the production of electric energy. Several hydroelectric plants were established in a short time (Mamore, Collestatte, Papigno, Cervara, Spoleto, Terni), all work thanks to the Velino waters which caused many contentions which were resolved in 1922 when all became the property of SAFFAT that joined with the carbide society which became “ Terni , Society for Electricity and Industry”.
In 1924 the same society linked the Piediluco lake to the Velino river and blocked the Curiano channel with a dam that allowed the use of the lake as a weekly regulation basin for the plant of Papigno. At the beginning of the XX century, along side with the struggle to ensure the exploitation of the waters of the Nera-Velino system, worrying rumours began to circulate and over a long time not listened to from some intellectuals that brought up the problem of the “missing” of the Marmore Falls.
The fears increased when in 1927 the “Terni Society” obtained from theMunicipality of Terni , the concession for twenty five-years of rights over the use of the Velino waters having in this way the possibility to exercise the exclusive monopoly of the production, management and distribution of the electric energy that comes from the waters in the entire basin.
In 1929 the Galleto power plant realized on project by the Architect Bazzani, the Galleto power began and in 1932 became with its 4 hydroelectric groups of 160.000 KW of power in all, the biggest hydroelectric unit inEurope . For the water supply of the plant, the Velino water was directed into two different forced galleries which pass over the railway Terni-Rieti and arrive in a penstock 1.100 metres long and from 20 to 26 metres deep. From this channel there is a further penstock of a 7.35 metre in diameter and of about 730 metres in length that at the end divide into two smaller penstocks with two wells which then divide the mains that work the great turbines.
Between 1929 and 1931, the factory then built the Medio Nera channel to carry into the Piediluco lake the Nera waters and its mountain attributes Corno and Vigi and as a consequence increased the productive capacity of the Galleto power plant. Nevertheless in 1929 the Public Works Ministry issued a disposition which forecasted the opening of the flow of waters during the holidays for a total of 486 hours every year,Marmore Falls , from the beginning of the Galleto power plant, was closed until 1954, when the province of Terni and Terni Society agreed to an annual opening of 770 hours. In the meantime, in 1945, the Waterfall became the symbol of Terni Society realized by the Ternanan painter Giuseppe Preziosi.
Starting from 1962, the Enel (National Electricity Board) purchased all of the electric production plants in to realize the previous agreement referring to the opening of the Falls.
In 1998 the Enel realized the first night lighting plant for the improvement of the naturalistic area, formed by 52 lighting centres with variable watts between 250 and 2500, allowing in this way to benefit from the spectacle of the Falls also during the night. In 2002 Endesa, the new management of the Galleto power plant, has undersigned a new convention with the Municipality and the Province of Terni that increased the opening hours to about 1.000. During the last years, the waters of the Nera side immediately at the bottom of the Falls has been used also for a “recreational” purposes: to practice rafting, kayaking, hydrospeed and canoeing.