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You are here: Home / The European environment – state and outlook 2010 / Country assessments / Spain / Freshwater - Why care? (Spain)

Freshwater - Why care? (Spain)

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SOER Common environmental theme from Spain
Published: 26 Nov 2010 Modified: 08 Apr 2011

Spain is a Mediterranean country with dry or very dry summers that can be exacerbated by long droughts. In the last 20 years, natural water resources have undergone great fluctuation, but have generally fallen by an average 5 % in the whole country with the exception of the Atlantic coastal areas, which are rainier.

This climatic characteristic of such irregular precipitation has led to the implementation of a major regulatory infrastructure capable of guaranteeing supply, and policies have been developed focused on reducing water usage and the sustainable use of this resource. Throughout its history, and in particular from the beginning of the 20th century, Spain has developed a hydraulic works policy resulting in a large number of dams (more than 1200) with an approximate capacity of 56 000 hm3, over 100 of which had already been built before 1915.

Spain has been a pioneer dealing with hydrological and hydraulic problems using a territorial focus based on drainage basins managed through policies in the second half of the 19th century and the first third of the 20th, in order to take advantage in a rational way of the scarce and irregular water resources available. Recently, Royal Decree 125/2007 of 2 February 2007 has established the scope of river basin districts and has introduced this new administrative figure to adapt our legislation to the Water Framework Directive.


River Basin



Geographic coverage


The country assessments are the sole responsibility of the EEA member and cooperating countries supported by the EEA through guidance, translation and editing.

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