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Learn about Dam Removals Across Spain!

Toranes Dam ©Ríos con Vida

We have several exciting dam removal updates from Spain! These are summarized below. 

In September 2021, we learned that out of the 21 Hydropower dam licenses that expired this January 2020, 12 of those dams will be demolished. These demolitions must be paid by the owner of the dam, as enforced by the Spanish legislation. However, since January 2020, the announcement of these 12 demolitions have created social opposition in some areas, and there are some cases where the expiration procedure hasn’t started (this process needed to be open in order to start the demolition project preparations).

More good news! 12 years after a report was released from WWF Spain pushing for the removal of 20 dams, one of those dams was recently announced to be removed! The Pikoaga Dam, located in the Basque Country, will be removed next year. You can find the complete dam removal project, plans and pictures in this link (in Spanish and Basque languages).

Aulencia Reservoir dam in the Guadarrama Middle Course Regional Park ©E. Sánchez

Many other barriers could be demolished due to the recent expiration of their license and the abandonment status: 

  • Madrid: an old, large dam, built in 1945 and completely closed with no use since 1975, full of toxic sediments (12 heavy metals, 74 contaminants and 31 other components), located in the Guadarrama River Regional Park and owned by the state, has recently expired its license. Full news in El País newspaper. Case also included in an NGO report from March 2018, Grandes Fracasos Hidráulicos (“Big Hydraulic Failures”).
  • Asturias: Lada HP dam in the Nalón River. The River Basin Authority (Confederación Hidrográfica del Cantábrico) already ordered the owner (Iberdrola company) to demolish an old dam built in 1946, which is part of a Thermic Central (Spanish Official Bulletin,  1st July 2020), however, the neighboring municipalities are against this decision because they would like to keep the reservoir for kayaking purposes.
  • Andalucía: Guadalquivir River Basin Authority announced that the Hydropower company, Iberdrola, should demolish their dam “Casas nuevas”, however, the townhall of Marmolejo Village complained due to the historic status of the infrastructure.
More Dam Removal news?