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France-Spain Cross-border River Project Shows Excellent Results

BIARRITZ, France

Cross-border water management project H2O Gurea announced 3 February the outcomes of a three-year project between France and Spain along the rivers Bidasoa, Nivelle and Urumea, a process that has shown excellent results including improved water quality, biodiversity preservation, and river and flood management.

Since 2016, the project has developed a strategy for cross-border cooperation and management of the rivers. Applying EU directives, the management committee developed a new approach to the water cycle with the main goal to improve flood management systems throughout the catchment area.

Overarching objectives of the project included:

  • Improve water resources data to reduce flood risks;
  • Develop flood risk management plans;
  • Increase storage capacity for drinking water and inter-connection of distribution networks;
  • Mitigate specific problems including uncontrolled discharge of urban wastewater and control of invasive species of fauna and flora;
  • Generate technical and political level exchanges between the different actors.

Participants included the Government of Navarra (Spain), the Communauté Pays Basque (France), the municipality of Urdax (Navarra), the Provincial Council of Guipúzcoa (Spain), URA Basque Water Agency and the Commonwealth of Txingudi (Spain).

With the conclusion of the project, the group claims a good example of successful management scheme of river basins through administrative cooperation and reported that the objectives had been achieved, with additional benefits including:

  • Protection of species of special interest;
  • Studies and works toward reduction of wastewater discharge into the natural environment and preservation of the quality of bathing waters in the lower part of the basins;
  • Development of an informative publication which is a collection of project-related case studies. The document can serve as a methodological example with practical solutions to address the different problems of river restoration from bioengineering from the landscape.
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