Work against flooding in Valencia is not given enough priority

by Lorraine Williamson
flooding in Valencia

VALENCIA – The implementation of important hydraulic projects against flooding is decades behind in the Valencia region. Decades of delays pile up in the execution of works intended to save lives and property. 

This writes the regional newspaper Las Provincias, which still leaves it open that the cause of the dawdling lies in whether it concerns powers of the central or regional government. Or that actions have been promised for political gain at election time, which are never followed or carried out. 

Torrential rain 

The region experiences torrential rain almost every year between late summer and autumn. Consequently, this often results in a lot of material damage mainly to the lack of work and plans to keep the flooding to a minimum. Often plans of major hydraulic infrastructure works are updated on paper but are subsequently postponed for decades. Such as constructing reservoirs or improving or diverting drainage channels and river beds. 

The last reservoir to be built was that of Algar at the lower basin of the Palancia. It was completed in 2000 but did not function until 2006. 

Planned but not built

The Vilamarxant reservoir was planned at the end of the 1960s. However, it has yet to be built. Its purpose was to complement the South plan. And, therefore prevent the floods of Valencia, or those of Montesa, Sellent, and the Magro River, within the plan to widen the basin of the Jucar River, developed after the disastrous flooding of the reservoir from Tous in 1982. 

Together with these three planned reservoirs, where land expropriations have already taken place in the case of Vilamarxant, the list still mentions the complete canalisation of the Poyo, Torrent, Silla, and Alginet valleys and the improvements to the canalisation of the Veo River in Castellón. 

More recently planned, but still pending are the flood actions promised in the Vega Baja del Segura after the September 2019 disaster. The government has only made repairs to the damage caused by the water. 

The regional government’s actions to combat flooding or limit its damage are 11% in execution this year. This is according to data collected by Las Provincias. And the reason for this, the newspaper cites: ‘Perhaps because of the undeniable budget deficits of the Valencian Community, because the ecological interests clash with those of the cement as a solution to prevent flooding. Or because of the increase in public spending due to the corona pandemic or maybe due to a lack of political will. 

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Cleaning riverbeds 

Another problem, but easier to solve, is the cleaning of rivers and ‘barrancos’. In particular, all the reeds must be removed and black cloth placed to prevent the reeds from growing back. 

In Sagunto, where last Monday a waterspout left 228 litres per square metre, the city council pointed out that the cleaning of the Gabau bed, close to the sea, does not fall under the municipal competence. But is the responsibility of the Hydrographic Confederation of Júcar. However, according to local residents, the riverbed is always dirty with reeds and lots of pruning residues. Materials that cause problems for the normal flow of water. This causes the adjacent road to flood when there is a lot of precipitation. 

The same sources point out a subsidy was requested five months ago to carry out actions around the canal. People now need a positive response. 

Another point of conflict was earlier in the Barranc Les Portelles, in El Verger. At the moment, the spillway of the Girona River is clean, according to the mayor, Ximo Coll. 

Tender to clean the riverbeds

In the case of Dénia, the problems are mostly concentrated in the Montgó area. There, the city council had to request permission from the CHJ to act. Now that the fire action plan will be finally approved in the coming days, they will launch a tender to clean the riverbeds. According to the councilour for Ecological Transition, Maite Pérez, the contract is worth €30,000. Furthermore, she hopes it will be awarded in September and that the tasks can be completed as early as October. The councillor emphasised the areas with a greater fire or flood risk will be treated first and where homes are nearby. 

Benidorm has already done its homework and cleaned the beds and drainage so that a first ‘gota fría’ can be defied. 

In the Ribera Alta, the floods of recent years have been caused by or overflowing the drainages. While city governments strive to clean them up, there are some channels that are understaffed. This is the case with the Casella ravine, in Alzira, which joins the Júcar. Moreover, this canal has not been cleaned for years.  

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