Flood Prevention in the Autonomous Community of the Basque Country, Spain

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Flood Prevention in the Autonomous Community of the Basque Country (ACB), Spain



Focus Areas

Geographic Scope

Autonomous community of the Basque Country, Spain (Click Here for Map)




Background and Significance

The ACB is a highly mountainous territory located across the western end of the Pyrenees and the eastern part of the Cantabrian Mountains. Rainfall is abundant throughout, with an annual average of over 1,000 mm and a long-term variability of about 20 percent. However, despite its relatively constant levels of rainfall, the region has experienced serious flooding and a number of droughts. Additionally, in parallel to industrial and urban development, the quality of the region's water resources and aquatic ecosystems have continuously degraded.

The Experience: Challenges and Solutions

As a response to these extreme events, in 1992, ACB implemented an Integral Plan of Flood Prevention and the region has also established an extremely dense hydrometeorological monitoring network, with over 330 control stations currently in operation. Furthermore, a network with 360 sampling points has been set up in order to survey the environmental status of all aquatic ecosystems and regional water bodies (rivers, lakes, reservoirs, transitional waters, coastal waters and groundwater). The data collected from these points is subsequently used to assess the current condition of all water bodies in accordance with the European Union Water Framework Directive, which entered into force in 2000. Thus, IWRM policies are actively being implemented.

Results and Impact

The project aims to promote the sustainability of water resources while meeting the water demands of various sectors.

In order to promote the sustainability of water resouces while meeting the water demands of the various sectors, IWRM policies are actively being implemented.

In terms of the future outlook, the central challenge is to define and successfully implement a series of case-specific and efficient programmes to protect and improve the status of valuable water resources and the associated ecosystems.

Lessons for Replication

The results of the studies indicated that improving water quality and curbing the destruction of ecosystems remain grave challenges for the region. While the reclamation and restoration of rivers and estuary banks are both feasible and underway, it is apparent that the likelihood of their success will depend upon upon the degree of damage previously occurred. These activities may not be able to restore water resources to their prior conditions, but they can neveretheless help to improve their current state.

Testimonies and Stakeholder Perceptions


The Experience at a Glance

Implementing Agency(ies)


See also

Additional case studies in Spain
  1. Flood Prevention in the Autonomous Community of the Basque Country, Spain/Map

External Resources

The WWDR2 case study summary

The full case report (in Spanish)


 Basque country.pdf  Basque country2.pdf

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