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       A survey of resources and problems

                   Directed by


               General coordinator

               ANTONI PARÍS

                Map coordination

               JOAN MARULL

              CD-ROM coordination

               ANDREU ULIED
This book was commissioned by Barcelona Regional S.A. [BR] on the 31st October 1996 from Estudi Ramon Folch -
Gestió i Comunicació Ambiental S.L. [ERF]. Thirty reports were submitted to BR on 15thJune 1997. The sectoral reports
and the experts who wrote them are as follows:

Climate and atmosphere

1. Climatic characteristics and atmospheric dynamics
         ERF Team

2. Emissions and air quality
          José M. Baldasano
         Dept. Technology & Environmental Modelling (ITEMA), UPC

3. The effects of air pollution on health
         Josep M. Antó, Jordi Sunyer and Manolis Kogevinas
         Municipal Institute for Medical Research (IMIM)

4. Noise pollution
         Josep M. Querol
         Consulting Engineer

Inland and coastal waters

5. Basin characteristics. Hydrological balance and water quality
         Narcís Prat
         Department of Ecology, Biology Faculty, UB

6. Meteorological risks
        Jordi Corominas & Núria Santacana
        Department of Soil Engineering, Civil Engineering Faculty, UPC

7. Runoff and larger storm surges
         ERF Team

8. Contamination of surface water
        Manuel Soler
        Water Technology Group, Vallès Polytechnic Institute, UPC

9. Aquifer characteristics. Ground water pollution and salting
         Jose Trilla
         Geology Department, Science Faculty, UAB

10. Water ecology, coastal circulation and the sea bed
         Joan Domènec Ros
         Ecology Department, Biology Faculty, UB

11. Chemical pollution in coastal environments
        Josep M. Bayona
        Research and Development Centre, CSIC

12. Water catchment and treatment
         Manuel Soler
         Water Technology Group, Vallès Polytechnic Institute, UPC

13. Wastewater emission and treatment
          Miquel Salgot
          Department of Soil Science and the Environment, Pharmaceutical Faculty, UB
14. Collection, testing and release of wastewater and rainwater
          Luis Gutiérrez
          Clavagueram de Barcelona, S.A. (CLABSA) (sewage utility company)

15. Supply and demand. Water catchment, use, and diversion schemes
         Miquel Salgot
         Department of Soil Science and the Environment, Pharmaceutical Faculty, UB

Land and geology

16. Environmental landscape characteristics
         Francesc Giró
         Consultant, Ecologist

17. The natural heritage and urban green spaces
         Francesc Giró
         Consultant, Ecologist

18. Soil pollution
          M. Teresa Felipó, Robert Cruañas and Mª Antònia Garau
          Department of Soil Science and the Environment, Pharmaceutical Faculty, UB

19. Coastline dynamics
         Jordi Serra, Judit Argullós, Luis Parente and Román Bautista
         Department of Geomorphology, Geology Faculty, UB

20.Beaches and coastlines. Use and pollution.
        Miquel Ventura

21. Geological risks and approaches
         Jordi Corominas & Núria Santacana
         Department of Soil Engineering, Civil Engineering Faculty, UPC

22. Quarrying
         Pilar Andrés
         Centre for Ecological Research and Forestry (CREAF), UAB

Plans, solid wastes, and energy

23. Solid waste generation and treatment
          ERF team

24. Treatment, use, and disposal of sewage sludge
         Miquel Salgot
         Department of Soil Science and the Environment, Pharmaceutical Faculty, UB

25. Traffic and transport
          Barcelona Regional Team

26. Urban and infrastructural impact. Land use and socio-economic forecasts
         Barcelona Regional Team

27. Assessment of environmental impact studies
         Pilar Andrés
         Centre for Ecological Research and Forestry (CREAF), UAB

28. Energy features of the region
         Joaquim Corominas

29. Energy infrastructure
         Joaquim Corominas
30. Environmental impact and public risks of energy use
         Joaquim Corominas

These materials formed the basis of a synthesis which ERF submitted to BR on 31 st July 1997 which after revision
and discussion with BR, forms the current work. In response to suggestions and information provided by the
aforementioned experts and as a result of inititiatives taken by ERF and BR, a team from Barcelona Regional carried
out cartographic work to complement the text. A team from Multicriteria Consulting S.L. [MCRIT], under the
direction of ERF, took on the task of preparing a CD-ROM with models and other information, most of which was
extracted from the original submissions.

Environmental Diagnosis

1.Survey of a heavily settled area

1.1 Population distribution
        Administrative areas and the population
        Employment patterns in the region

1.2 The interaction between transport and location
         The currents of movement: Centralisation and commuting
         The road and rail networks

2. The atmospheric and climatic framework

2.1 The climate and atmospheric circulation
         The role of anticyclones
         Factors of the regional climate

2.2 Meteorological risks: cloudbursts and flash flooding
        Causes of floods
        Floods in the Metropolitan drainage areas
        The effects of road works on river courses
        The effects of building on flood plains

2.3 Emissions and air quality: dispersion of air pollutants
        Pollution sources
        The main air pollutants
        Air quality

3. Geology and Soils

3.1 Substrate and relief: geotechnical problems
        Relief units
        Geotechnical issues

3.2 Major geological risks: earthquakes and landslides
        Seismic activity
        Landslides and rock falls

3.3 Mining activities: mines and restoration work
        Observance of regulations
        Environmental impact of quarrying
        The restoration of exhausted quarries

3.4 Soils: their use and pollution
         Soil types
         Soil vulnerability and degradation
Assessment of soil pollution
4. Surface and ground water

4.1 The water supply network: characteristics and socio-environmental problems
        Available resources and their use
        Water quality
        Flow volumes of surface waters

4.2 Aquifers: use and degradation
        Besòs and Llobregat aquifers
        The Tordera, Maresme & Garraf aquifers
        Other aquifers: Vallès and the Barcelona Plain

4.3 Fresh water catchment and treatment
         Potabilising plants
         Treatment processes
         Present & future water supply

4.4 Sewage: types, treatment, and use
        The Catalan Water and Sewage Treatment Plan
        Generation and types of wastewater
        Wastewater treatment
        Use of treated waters
        Discharge of treated waters
        The sewer network

4.5 The water budget
        Water consumption and needs
        Increasing efficiency: Is it really necessary to pipe water in from more rivers?

5. The coastal interface

5.1 The coastal strip
        Land use in the coastal strip
        Beaches: social and recreational use
        Changes in coastal dynamics: ports, and beach regeneration

5.2 Coastal waters: discharges and diffuse pollution
        Polluting agents
        Sources of pollution
        Water quality

5.3 Coastal biology: distribution and problems
        Coastal zones
        The effects of dumping and sand dredging on fishing
        Protection measures
6. Landscape Ecological structures and continental biology

6.1 The environmental landscape
        The creation of the landscape
        Types of landscape

6.2 The biological heritage: fauna, vegetation and urban green areas
        Green areas

6.3 Nature management
        The environmental matrix
        Management of open spaces
        Forest fires
        Hunting and fishing
        Environmental impact studies (EIS)

6.4 Environmental parameters
        The problems of quantifying environmental phenomena
        Eco-landscape fragility index (EFI)

7 Energy

7.1 Energy requirements: strategy and consumption
        Energy management
        Energy consumption

7.2 Energy infrastructures: generation, transformation, and distribution
        Energy generation
        Energy transformation
        Distribution networks
7.3 The potential for renewable energy
        The potential for the use of solid wastes and biomass
        Solar energy potential
        Wind and geothermal power

7.4 The impact of energy use on the environment
         The impact of hydroelectric and thermal power stations
         The impact of the electricity grid
         The misuse and inefficient use of energy

8. Solid wastes and sewage sludge

8.1 Urban solid wastes (USW), Generation, treatment and recovery
        USW generation in the Barcelona Region
        Current USW management
        The Metropolitan Plan for Municipal Waste Management (MWP)

8.2 Sewage sludge: generation, treatment, and uses
        Sludge generation and management
        Possible uses for sewage sludge

9. Health and air quality

9.1 The effects of air pollution on health
        Epidemiology and health measures
        Sources of pollution and other noxious elements

9.2 Health effects of noise
         Traffic and street noise
         The daily noise pattern and emission sources
         Noise inside buildings
         Noise regulations
         Control and correction measures

10. Regional and environmental measures

10.1 On air pollution

10.2 On river basins and river flow patterns

10.3 On surface water courses, aquifers, and water resources

10.4 On the seaside and coast

10.5 On coastal waters

10.6 On plants, fauna and environmental landscape

10.7 On urban green spaces and roadside verges

10.8 On energy consumption and the potential of local energy sources

10.9 On urban and semi-urban land use

10.10 On geological substrates and soils

11. Measures to regulate activities which have an environmental element

11.1 On agriculture

11.2 On buildings and infrastructures

11.3 On large public public works and road schemes

11.4 On mobility

11.5 On noise

11.6 On generation and treatment of waste

11.7 On treatment and regeneration of waste water

11.8 On generation and treatment of sewage sludge

11.9 On open air leisure activities

Indexes to tables and figures


Survey of a heavily-settled region
1.1 Population distribution
Administrative areas and the population

The Barcelona region is metropolitan in character and heavily populated. It is important to
consider settlement patterns and economic activities (agriculture, industry, road networks)
since these have a direct bearing on environmental issues.

Administrative areas and the population

The population size in the metropolitan area is 1.6m, 3m or 4.3m, depending on the
definition chosen. Taking the widest definition, the Barcelona municipality accounts for
37% of the region‟s population compared with 61% thirty years ago, while the region as a
whole has housed around 70% of the population of Catalonia since 1970. The size of
Barcelona‟s population is 1.6m in the 100 km2 containing the townships; 3m by the
Metropolitan Environmental Agency definition, or 4.3m in the six metropolitan counties
with their 163 townships (4.3m in an area of 3,234 km2 ).

The townships included in the widest definition of the metropolitan area are located within
radii of 15 km (Montcada) and 30 km (Castelldefels). As the traditional structure of
mature industrial cities is heavily influenced by communication routes, one cannot speak
of homogenous urban characteristics in what is often termed the second tier of the city.
The areas outside the city, (1.4m residents in the first tier - using the Paris Strategic Plan
terminology- and 1.3m residents in the second tier), easily outnumber the number of
people living in the city itself which only made up 37% of the total in 1991 (thirty years
ago the comparative figure was 61%).

In terms of counties, the Barcelonès, with 2.3 million residents makes up 54% of the
population by the widest definition of the metropolitan area and 35% of the total
population of Catalonia. The relative importance of the county shows a clear declining
trend, although the importance of the region as a whole remains around 70%, as most
changes of residence are purely internal. Looking at the region from a non-administrative
view point, the primary metropolitan area can be seen as that served by the ring roads built
in 1992: an area with a population of 2.6m accounting for 60% of the metropolitan
population under the widest definition.

Table 1
Population growth in the Barcelona Region
      Year            Population
      1880                  643,626
      1900                         864,800
      1920                       1,142,266
      1956                       2,266,798
      1972                       3,908,279
      1986                       4,234,453
      1991                       4,264,422
      1996                       4,228,048
  forecast 2026                  5,186,100
Source: Barcelona Metropolitan Regional Plan

Table 2
Population changes between 1981 and 1996 (in thousands) by city tiers
        Area            1981            1996           1981-1996           % 1981-1996
Barcelona                  1,752.6          1,508.8            -243.8               -14
1 tier                        913             827.1              -85.9               -9
2nd tier                     494.3              592               97.7               20
3 tier                     1,077.5          1,290.9              213.4               20
Total                      4,237.4          4,218.8              -18.6                0
Rest Catalonia             1,718.9          1,871.2              152.3                9
Total Catalonia            5,956.4            6,080              133.7                2
Source: Barcelona Regional

The Barcelona region ranks sixth in the EU in terms of population and fifth in terms of
industrial employment, with an income per capita equivalent to the EU average. The area
houses 11% of the population of Spain, 14% of its GDP, and 21% of its industrial jobs.
According to the 1986 Bielh Report for the EEC, Catalonia has 34% of the infrastructure
of the highest ranking EU region (Hamburg). Barcelona and its hinterland rank sixth in
terms of resident population in the EU in a list headed by London (12.2m) and Paris
(9.3m). Barcelona would occupy eighth position if only metropolitan areas were
considered or if the central area of Belgium were included. Catalonia raised the per capita
GDP from 83% of the EU average in 1985 to 100% in 1991 (based on the average for the
12 states and considered as equivalent to the average metropolitan income).

There was a net fall of 107,000 in the population of the Barcelona Metropolitan Area
during the last decade and a fall in Barcelonès county of 153,000. However, the townships
in the second tier gained nearly 133,000 in the same period (1.8% of the population of
Catalonia). The resident population of the Barcelona region has stabilised at around 4.3
million during the last 10 years, while the population growth recorded around Barcelona
up to 1975 has stabilised at around 70% of the population of Catalonia, with a slight
declining trend. From 1975 (when the effects of the oil crisis began to make themselves
felt in Europe) to the census in 1991, the second tier of townships gained 3% in terms of
resident population (around 250,000 new inhabitants) and some 6% in local jobs (about
161,000), mainly because of decentralisation from the city to the surrounding area.

Employment patterns in the region

The urban sprawl affecting the Barcelona region during the 1960‟s accelerated during the
1970‟s. The built up area covered 10,000 hectares in 1957. This grew to 20,000 hectares in
the fifteen years between 1957 and 1972. In other words, the land used in a decade and a
half of expansion matched that used since the city‟s foundation in Roman times. The 60‟s
saw Spain beginning to open up to the world and show strong economic growth. This was
fuelled by a rapid expansion in tourism; large internal migrations; the building of workers‟
housing estates; second homes; and the motorisation of the population with the “Sis-cents”
(a licensed copy of the Fiat 600). A backward Spain began to close the gap with advanced
Western economies. However, the real quantum jump in growth took place in the
following fifteen years. The city grew by a further 20,000 hectares between 1972 and
1986, a two-fold increase over the growth of the previous fifteen years and yet another
doubling in the size of the city. The built-up area thus totalled 40,000 hectares by 1986.
While the metropolitan area growth was limited to some extent by the General
Metropolitan Plan (1976), the real growth in the region occurred in the second tier, i.e. on
the outer edge of the 27 townships surrounding Barcelona. While urban growth continued
apace in the period 1986-92, outstripping that of the 1960‟s, it did not match the
phenomenal rates of the 1970‟s.

Figure 1
Growth in the built-up area in the Barcelona Metropolitan Area (323,000 growth between
1880 and 1992)



Source: Serratosa, A. Open spaces and metropolitan planning: realities and proposals.
Papers Nº 20 (title and text in Catalan).

In 992, urban land and infrastructures occupied 45,000 hectares or approximately 14% of
the metropolitan area, almost all on level ground. The residential occupation of land from
the 1960‟s to the 1990‟s has increased by a factor of 2.1, while the residential population
in the area has only increased by 19.6%. Urban land incorporation increases with the
distance of the tiers from the city centre. The increase in urban consumption of land/
population increase ratio has also risen with distance from the centre, i.e. the per capita
urban land use is higher on the periphery.
Table 3
Urbanised and non-urbanised land in the Barcelona region (1987 and 1992)

                                                  Barcelona region
    Land use                      Landsat (1987)1                   PTMB (1992)2
                                ha.              %               ha.             %
Urbanised                     41,433           12.8            46,507          14.4
Non-urbanised                 283,666          87.2           277,046          85.6
Total                         325,099           100           323,553           100
Source: Barcelona region 1987: Barcelona Metropolitan Regional Plan. Dades numèriques. May 1993
  Land surfaces calculated by the Catalan cartographic institute, based on Landsat photographs.
  Barcelona Metropolitan Regional Plan.

Table 4
Breakdown of the land surface (ha.) of the counties in the Barcelona region (1994)

    County                    Woodland                   Agriculture     Urban         Rivers     Total
                                                                                        and       area
                      Wooded          Unwooded
Alt Penedès           16,760            6,556              30,913        4,959           132      59,320
Baix Llobregat        17,398            5,394              11,444        14,200          214      48,650
Barcelonès              545             1,141                642         11,982          40       14,350
Garraf                 6,616            5,557               4,344        1,897           46       18,460
Maresme               18,089            2,758              10,567        8,061           205      39,680
Vallès Occid.         23,179            9,068              11,469        14,495          129      58,340
Vallès Oriental       43,793           13,837              16,257        10,991          422      85,300
Source: Agricultural and fishing statistics 1995. DARP

According to data from the General Urban Directorate and a PTMB Numerical Data
Monograph (1993), urban land use rose to 65% of the total surface area of Barcelonès
county and 15% (some 15,000 ha.) of the Barcelona Metropolitan Area. The rate of
growth reached an all time peak in the period 1972-1986, where urban use grew by 1,262
ha. per annum. According to the PTMB (1992) urban land use grew at 981 ha. a year
between 1986 and 1992, although there were extreme variations in the types of use, with
the major part taken up by traditional activities (residence, industry, business) since these
are the most land hungry. Household size has undergone a steady decline, from 3.3 in
1986 to close on the European average of 2.7 now. This fall has generated additional
demand for a further 300,000 dwellings to house a metropolitan population which is
virtually static.

Since the 1970‟s residential and industrial growth and growth of related services has
occurred at the expense of farming land, especially the most fertile areas of valleys and
plains. According to the General Urban Plan and pertinent regulations,it is expected that
the townships studied will require a further 26,858 hectares for building purposes which
will no doubt involve further loss of farming areas. The Plan foresees a fall from 1,052 to
685 ha. in Baix Llobregat and from 2,968 ha. to 1,950 ha. in the delta area.

The pressure on farming in the Barcelona region began in the 1960‟s, during the economic
boom which totally ignored the agrarian sector, and affected mainly the fertile flood plains
which provided market gardening produce for the city. Nowadays the pressure comes from
various directions. At the macroeconomic level, belonging to the EU can force farmland to
be abandoned or converted to forestry in subsidised projects. On the local level, farming
activities on the outskirts of the city are also affected by urban blight, land speculation and
overpopulation, often accompanied by shanty dwellings, illegal dumping, uncontrolled
grazing, and deterioration of the infrastructure, especially roads.

One of the biggest threats to farming near built-up areas is fragmentation of the land. This
process can be clearly seen along the banks of the river Llobregat where roads break up the
flood plain. The river margin and delta on the right bank are extremely fertile but have
been selected as the site for further road schemes. These projects make the land
impermeable, both ecologically by modifying the normal river cycle of slack, spate and
flooding, and in terms of easy mobility for the residents themselves, and throw up
obstacles to the proper farming of these once productive lands which are becoming
devalued and marginal.

Furthermore, the increase in the traditional urban land use has been exacerbated by so-
called periurban activities. In a strict sense, these activities are neither urban nor rural (race
tracks, hotel complexes, camp sites, rubbish tips, waste incinerators, lorry parks and
hypermarkets, market gardening greenhouses, and agribusiness in general). These
activities have made enormous demands on land over the last few years, and urban
planning has failed to properly regulate them (in most cases they are covered by
provisional licenses and sited on land either unfit for urban development, or fit for
development that is not yet planned, or occasionally declared to be of public interest).

Such rapid urban and semi-urban growth has led to comparatively high urban densities
(21.7% of flat land is urbanised), however densities are considerably lower outside the
Barcelona built up area (there are 74.1 dwellings per hectare in Barcelonès county, while
the comparative figure for the rest of the metropolitan counties lies between 10 and 20.
While there are 225.8 inhabitants per hectare in Barcelonès, there are, on average, 93.2
throughout the whole metropolitan area and in some counties there are fewer than 50 per

The General Urban Plans and subsidiary regulations in force in the 163 metropolitan
townships foresee the urban use of a further 26,858 ha. Taken as a whole, the maximum
built up land surface of the Barcelona Metropolitan Area (BMA) will reach a little over
75,000 ha under the present plan and the non-urbanisable area some 218,000 ha. (the latter
comprising land for agricultural and forestry uses and, more difficult to forecast, semi-
urban uses). Of the 26,858 ha. which are urbanisable, some 17,500 ha. were programmed
for 1993. The population density in the Barcelona region varies considerably. It is below
80 inhabitants/ha. for 15% of the population, between 80 and 240 inh./ha. for 25% of the
population, and above 320 inh./ha. for 50% of the population. Up to 11% of the population
have to put up with densities in excess of 320 inh/ha. The same phenomenon is reflected
in the distribution of population over detached houses (13%), terraced houses (10%), and
flats (77%). This wide range of densities creates an inefficient use of urban space and has a
negative impact on the quality of urban life, which is usually measured against yardsticks
including green zones, size of the urban area, and parking problems.

Excessive population densities mean that 25% of the population live in areas which are
under-supplied with parks and 30% suffer severe lack of parking spaces. At the other
extreme, the garden cities are difficult of access, since 80% of them lack any form of
public transport. The relative lack of public transport has a somewhat lesser effect on the
outlying districts of the larger cities and the older housing estates. In general, the areas
which are worst provided with public transport are also those with serious urban deficits,
particularly areas which are spread out, difficult to reach, or built on steep slopes (25% of
residential land). These urban problems affect 6% of the metropolitan area and 34% of the
population dwelling in garden cities.

1.2 The interaction between transport and location
The currents of movement, centralisation and commuting

The growing concentration of population in and around Barcelona up to 1975 began to
slow down when the effects of the oil crisis became apparent. From then to 1991 the
population stabilised at around 4.3 million, with the second tier of townships gaining 3%
in population (250,000 new residents) and 6% in local jobs (some 161,000), mainly as a
result of the decentralisation of the Barcelona municipality and immediate surroundings.
During the period 1991-1996 the trend towards relocation from the city to the outlying
areas reached its peak. 57% of the almost 253,000 inhabitants lost by Barcelona and 45%
of the 86,000 lost by the other townships since 1981 have moved in the last 5 years.
Almost half (47%) of those from the city itself have relocated in the second tier, while
areas like Molins-Sant Vicenç, Sant Cugat-Cerdanyola, Ripollet, Montcada, and the
townships in the Llobregat delta have received 22%. The remaining 31% have relocated
elsewhere in Catalonia or even further afield. The Barcelona ring roads had a strong
influence on this trend.

The phenomenon of decentralisation is common to most major metropolitan areas
throughout the world and can be explained by a combination of factors tending to push
people out of the centre (high housing prices, limited land) and to pull people to outlying
areas (preference for family dwellings, job-related changes of residence, cheaper housing
prices, etc.). The trend towards decentralisation can still be seen as moderate, but the
negative migratory balance from the Barcelona municipality shows a rising trend, with the
loss of 20,500 in 1994 compared with 10,000 lost in the previous ten years. Only a third of
this lost population relocates outside the Barcelona region.

Table 5
Migratory movements in the Barcelona region (1991-96)

       Townships losing population                    Townships gaining population
Barcelona                    134,737            St. Cugat del Vallès          8,273
L‟Hospitalet                 17,528             Terrassa                      5,799
Sta. Coloma de G.             9,963             St. Pere de Ribes             5,033
Badalona                      7,738             St. Andreu de la Barca        3,857
Cerdanyola del Vallès         6,109             Sitges                        3,692
Barberà del Vallès            5,663             Rubí                          3,680
Sabadell                      3,606             Gavà                          2,781
Cornellà                      2,437             Corbera de Llobregat          2,273
Esplugues                     1,500             St. Andreu de Llobregat       2,011
Source: Barcelona Regional
Business activity has also been affected by the same decentralising trend. Growth in the
service sector during the 1986-1991 boom was 5 times higher in the first tier and 1.8 times
higher in the second tier than in the city of Barcelona. The trend is confirmed by the
tertiary sector where the respective figures were 2.6 and 1.6 greater than the growth in the
capital. One result of this is an improvement in services to the metropolitan outskirts. Yet,
despite all this, the centre continues to provide jobs in the tertiary sector far in excess of
the city‟s share of the population of Catalonia, accounting for 34% of jobs in the catering
sector and 58% in services to companies (62% in 1986). Even during the period 1992-94
(when there was a net loss of jobs) the tertiary sector showed rapid growth in the first and
second tiers, this trend being even more marked in the least well-provided townships, thus
tending to even out these services throughout the region. The building of Barcelona‟s new
ring roads in 1992-94 already aided this process by redefining peripheral areas as new
urban areas. The greater access provided by the ring roads, together with new urban
planning initiatives such as the Eix Macià in Sabadell or Montigalà in Badalona have
reinforced the trend towards out-of-town shopping centres.

With regard to industrial activity, part of the growth in the first and second tiers of
townships is the result of decentralisation and loss of industrial jobs, which has resulted in
the loss of 112,000 jobs over a 21 year period. Despite this trend, Barcelona city still
provides 200,000 jobs in this sector, which represents 27% of total employment, a figure
which mirrors its share of the population of Catalonia. In general, although most industry
is still centrally located in the metropolitan area, the trend is to relocate in the first tier.
This movement is demonstrated by progressive relocation away from sites like Poblenou,
Sant Andreu and the surroundings of Badalona and even affects the Free Port. Meanwhile
Baix Llobregat is restructuring its economy away from industry and towards logistics,
encouraged by its proximity to the port.

The effect of industrial decentralisation is also obvious at the sub-county level where the
ratios of local jobs to local workers shows differences exceeding 10%. The lines from the
Llobregat to Martorell and the Caldes torrent, together with the metropolitan centre,
represent the business heartland. At the other extreme there are the outlying areas with
more residents than jobs, these include, along with the outskirts themselves, the Llobregat
Delta and the Baix Maresme (directly affected by the proximity of Barcelona) and areas
like la Garriga and Cardedeu (affected by the proximity of Granollers, a much larger
town). The ratio between jobs and residents in the remaining sub-county areas fall within a
10% tolerance margin. One should note the Molins de Rei-Sant Vicenç, Sant Cugat-Rubí,
and Cerdanyola-Montcada areas which lie within a 20km radius of Barcelona. Urban
centres have reflected the above-mentioned trends over the last few years and one can
identify three fundamental features: the urban model is based on three parameters; the road
networks, and the services provided are continuously increasing and an ever greater
number of people are able to buy property thanks to the availability of long-term

Adopting a functional model, characterised by isolated mono-functional areas and building
types which are based on separate volumes (most houses are detached family residences)
with large intervening gaps is one of the reasons building land is being used up at such a
profligate rate. This building model results in the least economic use of time, energy, and
land for building and urban planning. It could hardly be otherwise since urban dwellers
carry out a single function in each place. Thus exclusively residential, educational,
business, industrial, and administrative areas are becoming increasingly common. Given
that these are commonplace functions it does not take a wild leap of imagination to see
that people require transport to get from one area to another, with all the traffic and
squandering of resources, energy, and information this produces.

 Thus transport infrastructures and services have to link up the different functional parts of
the city which we have sundered from one another. This naturally involves employing a
considerable amount of materials and maintenance to keep the wheels turning. One only
has to think of the huge network of water pipes, sewer pipes, gas pipes, optical fibre and
roads. The network to sustain this system is a cat‟s cradle of surface and subterranean lines
which take up a large amount of space. Just the 66 kv high voltage grid for the Barcelona
region takes up an area equivalent to the city of Barcelona itself, i.e. 100 km2. The energy
required to move people and goods increases as the transport network expands. In fact, the
growth in land usage is not a function of population growth (whether due to vegetative or
migrational factors) but rather of purely economic and political considerations.

Table 6
Relationship between the census population, average annual population, average summer
population, and maximum population bearing capacity (1993) in the Barcelona region

         County                Census population/             Average annual              Average summer
                                 max. capacity                  population                   population/
                                                                                          maximum capacity
                                        (%)                           (%)                       (%)
Alt Penedès                            60.33                         68.45                     74.18
Baix Llobregat                         71.65                         73.87                     75.17
Barcelonès                             81.72                         73.79                     67.65
Garraf                                 39.87                         64.74                     83.66
Maresme                                58.85                         69.41                     82.52
Vallès Occidental                      77.87                         77.60                     74.64
Vallès Oriental                        66.36                         71.64                     72.83
Source: “Medi Ambient. Tecnologia i Cultura, núm. 1” Department of the Environment. Generalitat of Catalonia

A simple way of defining a city is to say it includes the area where internal mobility
exceeds entries to and exits from the city, measured in absolute terms. Therefore,
townships or areas in which external journeys exceed internal journeys are considered to
be part of a supra-municipal body. The first definition covers Hospitalet, Cornellà, Sant
Feliu, Badalona-Santa Coloma de Gramanet, the city centre, Alella-Premià-Vilassar, and
Santa Perpètua; whereas the region contains a total of 115 townships where external
journeys exceed internal journeys. Voluntary journeys for shopping, leisure, or meetings
often exceed trips for work or study reasons, explaining why the demand for infrastructure
grows with changes arising from greater flexibility in organising business activity.

Commuting affected 38% of workers in 1991 (compared with 31% in 1986). In 1991
250,000 people, almost a third of the city labour force commuted to Barcelona. However,
the commuting index is not necessarily higher at greater distance from Barcelona. In the
first tier of townships 63% of the population commute outside their own local authority
and 36% of the working population travel to Barcelona. In the second tier the proportion
commuting is 40%, with an average of 10% travelling to the capital (with an increase of
3% in the last 5 census years).

The average distance to work has increased and the number of journeys on foot has fallen.
While journeys made by public transport increased by 14%, the journeys made by private
transport in the Barcelona region increased by 47% between 1986 and 1991. This takes no
account of the effect of the new ring roads (built in 1992) which will undoubtedly have
boosted the percentage of journeys made by car even further. About 20% of working
residents in the second tier commute to Barcelona and the townships in the first tier.

The road and rail networks
The most important infrastructure facilities in the region are those connected to sewage
and waste treatment and the road network (which also has a considerable environmental
impact. The sewage and waste treatment infrastructure mainly covers wastewater and solid
wastes (sewage farms, water purification plants, incinerators, rubbish tips), and are dealt
with in detail elsewhere. Roads have a double influence on the region. First, they involve
an irremediable loss of land. Second, roads are designed in networks and in addition to the
land directly used up in building them one has to add indirect land use through
environmental degradation near busy highways and islands of land cut off by road
intersections. It is very difficult to either conserve these areas or retain them for
agricultural use, and they usually fall prey either to real estate speculation or become
wastelands. Road networks also facilitate rapid access to the areas they serve, and a new
line of communication is inevitably accompanied by resiting of industry, population, and
services which colonise them like urban bridgeheads established in what were formerly
country areas. The building of the ring roads and real estate operations such as l‟Eix Macià
in Sabadell or Montigalà in Badalona have led to new shopping and business areas which
have benefited from the improved access. An even more spectacular example is furnished
by the colonisation of the borders of the A7 motorway by all manner of activities.
Naturally these induced processes can be very positive for the region when they occur in
the context of a sustainable economy. However, they can also be extremely destructive if
this is not the case. Both states of affairs can be found in the Barcelona region, with a
recent trend towards destructive growth.

The development of the city of Barcelona and its area over the last few years has been
characterised by the spread of business and industrial activity which has caused an
outward movement of population and business over a radius of some 20km from the city.
This trend is particularly marked in the townships along the Llobregat river and the
corridor along the B-30 road. The dispersion of population and businesses has not just
been excessive but also chaotic, facilitated by new roads designed without order and
designed as stop-gaps to deal with situations produced by a total lack of rational regional

The Barcelona ring roads, the main access routes to the city, and much of the urban road
network were overtaken by ever greater traffic volumes shortly after being planned. It is
also clear that the balance is reached at the point where roads are completely saturated and
the potential demand for road transport massively outstrips the potential supply. Put
another way, building new roads initially reduces journey times thus encouraging even
more journeys which only level off when journey times and costs begin to rise once
saturation point is reached.
Traffic densities vary widely, with underuse of some of the road system and overuse of the
rest. The toll motorways, introduced more to finance the investment in road building than
to level out road use, are partly responsible for this irrational use. Thus toll-free roads such
as the Barcelona ring roads, the A-18 from Sabadell to Terrassa, or the A-19 to Montgat
carry car densities of over 100,000 vehicles a day while the rapid toll road access routes to
the city via the Vallvidrera or Garraf tunnels operate way below capacity. It is calculated
that some 100,000 vehicles a day use the ring roads to avoid the B-30 turnpike.

However the metropolitan network is still incomplete and building all of the roads
currently under construction or planned would extend the existing road network by 70%.
Some of the projects are controversial. Working out what in the Barcelona region is likely
to be built and what is not, given the number of administrative bodies with a hand in the
Metropolitan Regional Plan (which is still being drawn up) is a complicated problem.
Leaving aside some projects of grave environmental impact which are now underway and
therefore unstoppable (the southern ring road, A-16 Sitges-Vendrell), there are others
where a little common sense could still be imposed.

Two of the most controversial projects are undoubtedly the Fourth Ring Road and the road
networks which form part of the Delta Plan. With regard to the Fourth Ring Road,
currently at the outline project stage, the argument for its construction is based on (1)
providing an internal connection to Vallès, (2) linking the county with the Maresme and
(3) separating long-distance domestic and international journeys through the area.
However, if the intention is to facilitate long distance traffic this could just as easily be
channelled through the Eix Transversal (East-West motorway) and the A7 motorway
which could easily be modified to take the extra traffic. If the idea is to provide an internal
connection to Vallès, it would seem much better to optimise the existing road network and
forget white elephants like this project which are wildly over-scaled given current traffic

With regard to the road networks contemplated in the Delta Plan, there has been a lot of
talk and very little in the way of details. The Infrastructure and Environmental Co-
operation Agreement for the Llobregat Delta, signed by MOPTMA, the Autonomous
Government of Catalonia, the Prat de Llobregat town council, the Barcelona Metropolitan
Area Council of Townships, and the Mayor of Barcelona on the 1st of April 1994 included,
among other things, a commitment to produce a statement on environmental impact for
the projects included in the Guidelines for Planning the Infrastructure of the Llobregat
Delta. The Ministry for the Environment, created after the agreement was signed, decided
to replace this global study by piecemeal sectoral reports produced by experts in their
respective fields. Meanwhile, each of the projects in the Plan goes its own sweet way, its
progress influenced only by bureaucratic inertia and funding. Available information on the
Delta Plan is virtually non-existent and effectively comes down to the press releases made
by the Prat de Llobregat council. Put bluntly, one can say that despite the amount of talk
about the Delta Plan there is no overall plan and that each project follows its own course
and timetable.

There are three railway companies operating in the Barcelona region: Barcelona
Metropolitan Railways (FMB); the Autonomous Government Railway (FFGG); and
Spanish Railways (RENFE). The 378km of track in the metropolitan area belonging to
RENFE use the Spanish gauge of 1,668 mm, and are used by both passenger and goods
trains covering international, national, regional, and suburban routes. Probably the most
notable feature of the RENFE network in the Barcelona region is the so-called “Catalan
eight” or eight lines. Two lines run from Sant Vicenç de Calders northwards and two from
Massanet southwards (one pair along the coast, the other inland). The lines from the South
meet at Sants station, those from the North at Sagrera station. The stations are connected
by two tunnels which cross the city.

The FFGG operates 184km of track, with two gauges, neither of which matches the
RENFE gauge. The Barcelona/Igualada/Manresa and Barcelona/Sabadell/Terrassa lines
respectively run on 1000 mm and 1435 mm (European gauge) gauges respectively. The
latter line operates wholly within the city between Plaça Catalunya and Reina Elisenda
stations and between Plaça Catalunya and Avinguda Tibidabo stations. The FMB
underground system serves the Barcelona conurbation with 75km of line split between 5
lines: Line 1 with the Spanish gauge (1668 mm) and the other four lines with the European
gauge (1435mm). This network serves approximately 2.5 million people, with a traffic
volume of 263 million passengers/year.

According to data provided in the Metropolitan Regional Plan, which is still being drawn
up, most of the railway lines are under-used (although some sections (RENFE‟s Vilanova-
Sants-Plaça Catalunya, and Plaça Catalunya-Mataró and FFGG‟s Plaça Catalunya-Gràcia
are saturated). In general the use of suburban railways is below the European average,
despite the fact that there has been a notable increase in passenger volume from 41.3
million passengers/year in 1988 to 85.7m in 1997. This increase is probably due to
RENFE‟s upgrading of its services and stations. More than 280,000 people use suburban
trains on weekdays, of which 218,000 use them to enter or leave the city. In contrast,
underground travel fell by 17.4% in the 1986-91 period.

In general, attempts made to modernise the railway network have been limited to
improvements in services and infrastructure, and have not solved serious operating
difficulties through co-ordinated action. The suburban network provides poor connections
between urban centres in the Barcelona region, while the excessive importance given to
Barcelona itself is such that most of the journeys between urban nuclei pass through the
city and involve changing trains in one of the main line stations.
The relative inflexibility of the network (partly due to the different gauges employed)
produces summertime collapses of seaside lines while urban trains are at a standstill for
lack of passengers.

There are also serious connection problems between the railway and other forms of public
transport. Passenger transfer between rail lines operated by different companies and links
to bus services often mean an awkward trek for travellers. Much attention is currently
focused on high speed rail links (TGV) but similar consideration should be given to
improving connections, use, and convenience of metropolitan railways since these have
great potential in regional planning.
Table 7
Basic data for counties in the Barcelona region

                                                   Alt Penedès   Barcelonès     Baix       Garraf    Maresme     Vallès    Vallès      BMA
                                                                              Llobregat                         Occident   Oriental
   Inhabitants (1991 census)                         69,863      2,302,137    610,192      76,915    293,103    649,699    262,513    4,264,422
   Inhabitants (1981 census)                         64,894      2,454,491    573,461      69,084    253,527    598,324    225,095    4,238,876
   Total dwellings (1991)                            32,105       911,995     233,499      50,568    146,441    240,941    108,822    1,724,371
   Main dwellings (1991)                             20,829       791,297     179,392      25,267     90,166    195,423     77,001    1,379,375
   Active population (1991)                          29,496      1,006,690    263,727      32,064    128,352    288,703    117,551    1,867,123
   Industrial jobs (1991)                            11,841       278,476      95,026       8,221     43,380    105,951     51,267     594,162
   Tertiary jobs (1991)                              10,683       526,940     102,937      14,759     51,246    110,123     39,815     856,503
   Surface area                                      59,241        14,307      48,652      18,408     39,690     58,065     85,190     323,553
   Flat surface area (p<20%)                         49,988        12,451      33,998      13,174      2,528     43,845     54,459     210,445
   Protected nature areas (1992)                      3,632        2,069       10,397       5,197      7,341     9,206      25,633     63,474
   Urban centres (1992)                               757.8      6,896.79     2,555.1      578,25    1,990.26   3,599.82   1,397.70   17,775.72
   Low density industrial and urban areas (1992)     896.04        414.0      3,079.62    1,216.53   2,783.34   3,505.68   3,940.02   15,835.23
   Industrial and business areas (1992)              710.10      1,508.58     2,667.96     356.76     454.23    2,958.48   1,975.23   10,631.34
   Total urbanised land area (1992)                 2,363.94     8,819.37     8,302.68    2,151.54   5,227.83   10,063.9   7,312.95   44,242.29
   Urban land/flat land                                3.9          81.9       25.1        11.2       15.6        23.7      16.0         21.7
   Population 1991/Urbanised Area 1992                  30          261          73          36         56         65        36           96
   Dwellings 91/ Urbanised land area 1992               14          103          28          24         28         24        15           39
   Total journeys generated (1991)                   41,320      1,211.822    369,635     44,121     176,926    388,828    163,735    2,396,387
   Internal journeys (1991)                          36,441      1,098,057    263,408     37,439     141.662    331,671    137,443    2,046,121
   External journeys (1991)                           4,879       113,765     106,227      6,682     35,264      57,157    26,292      350,266
   Number of townships                                  27           5           29          6          30         23        43          163
   Average area of town                               2,194        2,861       1,677       3,068      1,323      2,524      1,981       1,984
   Lowest estimate of inhabitants                      200         34,154       661         401        366         88        54           54
Source: Barcelona Regional Metropolitan Plan, Generalitat de Catalunya (Catalan Government)

The atmospheric and climatic setting
2.1 The climate and atmospheric circulation
Astronomical, meteorological, and geographical factors mould the climatic setting of a
region. The first two are strongly influenced by the latitude which determines the angle of
the sun above the horizon and the length of the day at a given time of year. These in turn
determine the amount of solar radiation reaching the upper portion of the atmosphere
above the region- for the Barcelona region this hits a peak in July with incoming radiation
providing an energy equivalent to 1,000 calories per cm2 and a minimum in December and
the start of January of about a third of this amount.

The role of anticyclones
The Barcelona Area is in the Northern Hemisphere atmospheric circulation system, which
explains the most commonly occurring weather patterns. One should first recognise the
semi-permanent influence of sub-tropical Atlantic anticyclones. These are particularly
frequent during the hottest months, although in the middle of winter static anticyclone
systems can be set up which cause stable weather for up to two weeks at a time. The low
pressures associated with polar fronts affect the region when the girdle of high pressure
areas is located in lower latitudes (i.e. the coldest months) and zonal and sub-zonal
atmospheric circulation (following lines of latitude) clearly predominate. Under these
conditions, Atlantic air masses, their separating fronts and associated troughs have no
difficulty in reaching the area.

The specific meteorological characteristics of the region are strongly affected by the
differences between the energy of the Mediterranean itself and and that of its surroundings.
The sea generates such low pressures that one can speak of a semi-permanent
Mediterranean trough opposing continental air masses. The thermal variation between sea
and continent is also responsible for a typical feature of the region, the breezes which
affect each sub-regional environment differently and vary according to the season and the
large scale meteorological picture.

One should also note the autumn storms produced by the incursion of relatively cold air
over a warm, humid Mediterranean which has steadily heated up over the summer months.
These often produce spectacular effects, such as storms, flash floods, and sea level rises
caused by strong east winds.

Factors of the regional climate
The thermal log in the Barcelona Region depends on daily and annual cycles linked to the
amount of solar radiation received, although there is a lag in the air temperature response
to the radiation received because of the blanketing effect of the atmosphere. Diurnal
temperature oscillation varies greatly depending on season and local conditions, which is
why this must be considered as one of the most important climate indices. Annual
oscillation reflects diurnal oscilalation over the course of the year, which is affected by the
annual variation in the intensity of the total radiation.

The differences between temperature logs for various sections of the Barcelona Region are
simply a reflection of the greater or lesser influence of the Mediterranean in different
places. This can be quantified using the indices calculated for continental climates. The
Mediterranean sea modifies the continental climate in two basic ways:

The lag between maximum and minimum solar radiation periods and maximum and
minimum surface temperatures reduces with increasing continentality.
The annual and daily temperature variations reduce with reducing continentality.

Table 8
Temperature in the city of Barcelona (1997)
                                Averages                           Extremes
                Average Maximum C Minimum C Maximum C Minimum C
Annual            14.8          18.3             11.2         23.3           5.8
January           10.1          12.2             7.9          17.4           5.6
February           7.6          11.3             3.9          14.8          -2.4
March              9.8          13.0             6.6          18.8           3.4
April             13.0          16.6             9.4          20.2           2.2
May               15.9          19.9             11.9         26.8           6.8
June              20.8          25.3             16.3         31.6          10.2
July              23.1          27.7             18.4         33.2          11.6
August            22.4          26.6             18.1         29.8          13.0
September         17.9          21.9             13.9         26.8           9.4
October           15.6          18.9             12.3         24.2           6.4
November          11.3          14.2             8.3          19.4           2.2
December           9.6          11.8             7.3          17.0           1.6
Source: National Meteorological Institute. Fabra Observatory.
Produced by the Statistics Department. Barcelona Council.

The maximum temperatures in the Barcelona Region are in the coastal areas. In absolute
values (annual averages) they range between 16.5C in Barcelona and 6.5C in Montseny.
The minimum and maximum values over the last 20 years show that minimum values tend
to occur in February (especially in coastal areas) while maximum values always occur in
July or August.

Table 9
Average temperatures in the Barcelona Area (1997)
Township        J      F      M      A      M      J      J      A      S      O      N    D AAT
Granollers     8.6    10.8   13.8   14.9   19.0   21.5   23.8   25.5   21.8   18.8   12.8 9.1 16.8
Sabadell       9.1    12.1   14.1   15.2   19.2   21.2   23.9   25.7   22.1   19.3   13.4 9.9 17.3
Vilanova i     9.1*   12.7   13.8   15.4   19.0   21.9   23.8   25.9   22.8   20.7   15.7 11.9 17.3
Geltrú                                                           *
Terrassa        9.1   11.7   14.2   15.3   19.0   21.6   23.8   25.4   22.0   19.4   13.0   9.9   17.1
St. Feliu       8.7   11.4   13.5   14.1   17.6   20.6   22.6   24.4   21.0   18.7   12.5   9.2   16.2
Vilafranca      8.0   10.5   12.9   14.3    18.1 21.0 22.9 24.2 20.9 18.4 12.3 9.2 16.1
Mataró         10.1   11.9   13.9   14.9    18.9 20.9 23.2 25.2 22.3 19.6 14.6 11.2 17.2
Hostalets       8.0   10.4   13.6   14.8    16.1 21.3 23.5 25.7          -    -    14.2 - 15.9*
                                              *                   *                 *
Source: Catalan Meteorological Institute.Dept. of Environment, Catalan Government.
AAT: Annual Average Temperature
Less than 80% of possible data available
Table 10
Average minimum temperatures in the Barcelona Area (1997)
Township         J      F      M        A      M       J       J      A      S      O       N     D AAT
Granollers      5.5    5.5     7.8     9.6    13.6    16.9    18.6   20.4   16.9   14.3    9.1   5.4 12.7
Sabadell        6.1    7.0     8.5    10.3    14.2    17.0    18.8   20.6   17.3   15.0    9.8   6.4 12.7
Vilanova i      6.2    8.9    10.0    11.8    15.6    18.6    20.2   22.3   19.2   17.0   12.4   8.5* 14.2
Geltrú           *                                     *
Terrassa        6.4    7.5    9.4     10.8    14.4    17.3    19.0   20.8   17.6   15.3   9.6    6.5   13.0
St. Feliu       5.9    7.0    8.5      9.0    12.4    15.5    16.9   19.0   16.0   14.3   8.8    5.6   11.6
Vilafranca      5.4    6.4    8.0      9.7 13.4 16.6 17.8 19.4 16.5 14.3 8.7                     6.0   11.9
Mataró          7.6    8.0    9.9     11.4 14.8 17.6 19.5 21.8 18.3 16.2 11.4                    8.0   13.7
Hostalets       5.3    8.0    8.0      9.3 11.0 16.2 17.6 20.0          -     -    9.8*           -    11.0*
                                             *                   *
Source: Catalan Meteorological Institute.Dept. of Environment, Catalan Government.
AAT: Annual Average Temperature
Less than 80% of possible data available

Table 11
Average maximum temperatures in the Barcelona Area (1997)
Township         J      F       M       A       M       J      J      A      S      O      N    D AAT
Granollers      13.1   17.7    21.0    20.6    24.6    26.4   29.4   31.1   28.0   25.0   17.9 14.2 22.4
Sabadell        12.9   18.1    20.7    20.6    24.5    25.5   29.0   30.7   27.6   24.9   17.5 14.1 22.4
Vilanova i      13.1   17.1    17.7    18.6    22.3    24.9   26.7   28.8   26.5   24.6   19.7 16.4 21.4
Geltrú           *                                      *             *                         *
Terrassa        13.3   17.6    20.6    20.6    24.2    26.8   29.0   30.6   27.3   25.0   17.5 14.2 22.3
St. Feliu       13.3   17.9    21.1    20.6    24.0    26.8   29.2   31.1   27.9   25.1   17.5 14.3 22.4
Vilafranca      11.9   16.1    19.3    19.5 23.1 25.9 28.2 29.6 26.6 23.8 16.5 13.6                    21.2
Mataró          13.8   16.6    17.7    18.6 22.3 23.9 26.5 28.4 26.0 23.5 18.7 15.5                    20.9
Hostalets       12.6   16.7    21.5    21.4 21.7 27.3 30.7 33.4          -    -    18.1 -              22.3
                                              *                   *                 *
Source: Catalan Meteorological Institute.Dept. of Environment, Catalan Government.
AAT: Annual Average Temperature
Less than 80% of possible data available

The distribution of rainfall is determined by latitude, continental characteristics, and
topography. The topography of the Barcelona Region ranges from sea level to 1,700
metres in Montseny. The rainfall pattern strongly reflects the topography, with the highest
precipitation in the coastal mountain range (Montseny, 1,070 mm/year). The annual
rainfall pattern is somewhat atypical for the Mediterranean (wet winters and dry summers).
In this case the maximum rainfall is in the Autumn with the minimum falling in either
Summer or Winter. October and September are the wettest months while the driest are
July and February.

The calculation of maximum probable precipitation in a 24 hour period with a return
period of 10 years, worked out using the Gumbel distribution (based on the 30
observatories in the Barcelona Area with sufficient data) yields various values of less than
110 mm. The lowest value is in Barcelonès (Badalona, 86 mm) and another low is to be
found halfway along the lower Llobregat (Martorell and Esparreguera). The absolute
maximum is at Montseny with over 240 mm in a 24 hour period.
Figure 2
Graph of rainfall against temperature for the city of Barcelona.

        J F M A M J J A S O N D
                  Months                              degrees C

Annual average temperature: 16.4C (average minimum: 9.4C; average maximum:
Annual average rainfall: 600 mm

Table 12
Precipitation in the Barcelona Region

District                       1992         1993        1994        1995         1996      1997
Barcelona                      475.5        296.0       442.8       271.1       719.6*     450.0
Granollers                       -            -           -         415.3       1,012.1    478.8
Sabadell                       187.1        407.6       439.6       321.8        992.2     568.0
Vilanova i la Geltrú             -            -           -         411.6        685.6     310.4
Terrassa                         -            -           -         436.9        998.3     529.6
Sant Feliu de Llobregat          -            -           -           -          761.8     594.6
Vilafranca                       -            -           -         443.5        789.1     594.2
Mataró                           -            -           -         358.8        824.9     459.2
Hostalets                        -            -           -           -         375.2*    255.6*
Source: Catalan Meteorological Institute.Dept. of Environment, Catalan Government.
AAT: Annual Average Temperature
Less than 80% of possible data available

Hydrological balance and humidity index
The hydrological balance is the combined result of the amount of rainfall, evaporation,
water retention and infiltration. The Evapo-transpiration Potential (ETP) in the area
(worked out using Thornthwaite‟s formula) is highest along the coastal strip with the
maximum value in Barcelonès county (Barcelona, 84.6mm).

The ETP falls off inland and reaches a minimum value in the Montseny massif (521mm at
the peak of Turó de l‟Home).This distribution reflects the climatic sub-regions. The
difference between precipitation and evapo-transpiration (in months yielding a positive
balance) shows the theoretical monthly excess water and runoff at each observatory. After
ground saturation, the remainder represents ground water flow. Runoff shows a similar
distribution to the ETP.

The geographical diversity of the Barcelona Region is reflected in a wide range of wind
patterns. Weather balloon observations over the last 15 years reveal the absolute
preponderance of winds in the third and fourth quadrants, which include the Mestral (NW)
and the Ponent (W). These account for more than a third of the winds observed. The Garbí
(WSW) is also relatively frequent, while the Xaloc (SE) and Gregal (NE) are relatively
infrequent. Evidently this distribution is due to the large scale weather systems referred to
The wind patterns are modified in the Baix Llobregat area because of funnelling along the
Llobregat valley and coastal effects (sea breezes). This illustrates the important role that
local geographical features play in the wind regime. In the case of the Prat de Llobregat
observatory, light winds dominate (less than 3m/s) and account for over 50% of
observations. 25% of observations are of calm conditions. The very high frequency of
Northerly winds (21.6%) is particularly noteworthy and is due to the influence of the river.

The Vallès counties are relatively isolated from air masses blowing from the North and
inland, and are weakly influenced by winds from the coast. However, in the Vallès
Occidental winds from the Llobregat valley penetrate with ease, increasing the frequency
of South Westerly winds to 18%, although the speed of the “Gregal” is considerably lower
there than on the coastal strip. There is also a relatively high frequency of Westerly and
North Westerly winds, attaining 14% in both cases. In the Vallès Oriental the frequency of
South Westerly winds falls off and there is a greater component of Northerly Winds,
undoubtedly reinforced by breezes blowing down from the mountains. The wind
frequencies in the coastal mountain range faithfully reflect the general wind regime
mentioned earlier, with a clear predominance of winds in the third and fourth quadrants.
The frequency of Easterly (Llevant), Southerly (Migjorn), and South Easterly (Xaloc)
winds is particularly low while Northerly winds only account for 10% of the total. North
Easterly (Gregal) winds blow in the Montseny massif more frequently than in the rest of
the region.

A sea breeze is a purely local wind, independent of general atmospheric circulation
patterns and is caused by heat differences between land and sea surfaces. The particular
form they take is influenced by large scale superficial and higher pressure systems, and by
the time of year. The first factor can either strengthen or weaken the breeze, or even
prevent it forming.

General atmospheric circulation allows breezes to form very frequently whenever the
isobar patterns are favourable. The convection systems typical of breezes vary in size and
characteristics depending on the time of year (which affects the land/sea thermal gradient),
Spring and Summer are particularly productive, although breezes occur frequently
throughout the year.

On-shore nocturnal breezes move systematically in a N-NNW-NW direction (between
330 and 360 on the compass rose). The off-shore breezes begin to blow about an hour
after sunrise and around midday their direction changes until they are finally fixed from
the South, with a slight tendency to a gradual veer SSW-SW (between 220 and 360) due
to the Coriolis Force, if the breeze is sufficiently strong. Both the changes in direction
throughout the day and the height and area of the convection systems follow a well-
defined diurnal cycle. When stiff breezes blow the height of the convection system reaches
around 1000m according to a long series of observations made by weather balloon in
Barcelona. To sum up, the on-shore breeze blows N-NW during the night and the off-
shore breeze blows S-SW during the day.
Table 13
Average climate modification factors caused by built up areas

                 Elements                          Comparison with the countryside
Condensing nuclei and particles                              10 times more
Gas mixtures                                              5 to 25 times more
Mist and fog
Clouds                                                      5 to 10% more
Winter mist                                                   100% more
Summer mist                                                    30% more
Heavy fog                                                    less frequent
Total                                                      5 to 105% more
Days with more than 5mm/24 hours                              10% more
Snow                                                            5% less
Relative humidity
Winter                                                          2% less
Summer                                                          8% less
Solar Radiation
Total                                                       15 to 20% less
Ultraviolet (Winter)                                           30% less
Ultraviolet (Summer)                                            5% less
Sunlight hours                                               5 to 15% less
Annual average                                              to 1.5C more
Winter minimum (average)                                    1 to 2C more
Daily temperature                                              10% less
Wind speed
Annual average                                              20 to 30% less
Maximum gusts                                               10 to 20% less
Calm                                                         5 to 20% less
2.2 Meteorological risks: cloudbursts and flash flooding

If risk is the possibility of adversity then danger is the wilful exposure to risk. Many of the
lower lying parts of the Barcelona area are permanently threatened by flooding or other
dangers because of irresponsible land use, despite the perils which a combination of hilly
terrain and a Mediterranean climate can represent. Many measures could be taken to mitigate
the danger, the first being to assess the types and levels of risk present. The second measure
is clearly to avoid dangerous practices.

Causes of floods

The circumstances which give rise to the cloudbursts which cause flash flooding of
Catalonian rivers are too well known to need mentioning. Their effects are as follows: the
rapid thawing of snow in the mountains because of a rapid rise in temperature associated
with a cloudburst, local summer storms, and the autumn storms which usually affect much
larger areas of Catalonia.

Floods caused by the thaw are normal at the end of Winter and in Spring. Rivers originating
in the Pyrenees, such as the Llobregat, can carry considerable volumes of water and rise
gradually. When there is a lot of snow, a slow thaw may lead to the river flooding its banks
but causing very little damage. However, a rapid increase in temperature accompanied by
wide-spread rain produces a quick thaw and rivers can rise very quickly and violently.

Summer storms are particularly common in the Sierra Marina (the coastal mountain range).
This type of storm is most frequent in the Maresme, although heavy storms also occur over
the Barcelona plain and in the Garraf. Convectional rain storms in July, August, and
September are short-lived but very intense - 40 to 100mm of rain can fall within a few hours
and turn dry water courses in Arenys, Sant Pol, and Calella into raging torrents with flow
rates of tens of cubic metres per second. The local nature of these rainstorms usually prevents
serious damage occurring.

Autumn storms cause larger, more serious floods. They give rise to torrential rain which can
drop up to 100mm/ of water per hour or 200 to 300 mm in anything from a few hours to a
few days. The conditions most likely to give rise to such storms occur at the end of Summer
when the sea temperature is high after a long period of hot weather, providing an enormous
reserve of warm humid air at the lower levels of the atmosphere. The storm centres generated
or reactivated in the Western Mediterranean send moisture-laden air towards the coast. These
easterlies rise along the mountain chains where the rapid condensation of moisture produces
heavy rains. If a cold air mass or cold front is in the area at the same time the rains produced
are torrential. Autumn storms often affect large parts of Catalonia and rivers rise
simultaneously in several catchment areas, producing extraordinary flow volumes in main

Table 14
Maximum flood volumes (m3/s) for Barcelona Area rivers, estimated for different return

            Locality                                  Return period (years)
                                      2            10         25           100          500
Tordera at Can Serra                 320          930        1230         1680          2230
Mogent at Montornés               50    180    230    340   420
Congost at Montmeló               60    200    270    380   480
Riera de Caldes at la Florida     40    120    150    220   280
Ripoll at Montcada               100    430    600    830   1130
Besòs at Sant Adrià              230    800   1200   1750   2200
Riera de Rubí                     80    300    400    550   700
Anoia at Martorell               100    400    620    880   1250
Llobregat at Prat de Llobregat   530   1430   1860   2550   3330
Foix at the Foix dam              60    180    240    330   450
Source: Water Board (1989)
Floods in the metropolitan drainage areas

An important factor determining flood surges is the layout of the drainage area. The coastal
ranges and the Vallès-Penedès depression influence the number and type of catchment areas
in the Barcelona region. These can be divided into 3 groups:

The Sierra de Marina coastal range catchment areas: These areas, fed by the range divide are
  small and (except for the Riera d‟Argentona which has a surface area of 78km2) few
  exceed 10km2. The granite outcrops of the Maresme give rise to a fairly straight tributary
  and the basins in the Garraf massif take the form of a funnel for various tributaries. The
  headwaters are at an altitude of between 300 and 500 metres and they run down steep
  slopes. One should distinguish between those torrents which run over rocky beds, and
  those whose second section runs over recent quaternary sediments). Torrents of the first
  type include Arenys, Canet, and Sant Pol, all with very steep gradients (Canet exceeds 5%
  ). Those in the second group also have steep first sections but the gradient of their second
  sections (which run over sediments) is much more gentle (between 1.1 and 4%),
  producing a fall in flow speeds and the dumping of river load.
The Pre-coastal range basin: These torrents spring from the Montseny, Sant Llorenç, Munt,
  and Montserrat massifs. These basins are much larger, in some cases covering between
  hundreds and a thousand square kilometres. The rivers usually flow throughout the year
  (such as the Tordera, the Besòs, and the Foix and, to a lesser extent, the Canyelles
  torrent). They run through three clearly defined sections: the first covers the course
  through the pre-coastal range in which thalwegs lie over rocky bedrock and run down
  gradients of over 5% within confined courses. The second section corresponds to the
  Vallès-Penedès depression, comprising soft sediments dating from the Miocene, the
  erosion of which has allowed these rivers to produce wide alluvial plains through the
  accumulation of silt. The last section is the section though the Serralada de Marina
  (coastal mountain range) - a very short section in the case of the Tordera and Besòs and
  longer in the case of the Foix, ending in their respective deltas.

The river Llobregat basin: This is the largest river basin, which runs far beyond the
  metropolitan area. It crosses coastal ranges and the Vallès-Penedès depression and runs
  into the sea through a well-developed delta. The Llobregat‟s source in the Pyrenees
  explains why it has a more even flow regime than the previously mentioned rivers and is
  fed by melt water from thawing snow and heavy Autumn rains. The Llobregat also has
  tributaries which are typically pre-coastal such as the Anoia and the Riera de Rubí which
  make it behave like the Pre-Coastal range rivers during floods. Thus the Llobregat
  combines the characteristics of both Pyrenean and coastal rivers.

Given the characteristics of the river basins (with the sole exception of the river Llobregat)
the water courses cannnot be considered true rivers because of their irregular flow regimes
and steep gradients. It is precisely these gradients which, when combined with heavy rains,
produce the flash floods typical of the region. This is a particular problem in the Maresme
basins where the surge occurs a few hours after a storm, running downstream at breakneck
speed. For example the surge of a flash flood is capable of covering the 3km between Arenys
de Munt and Arenys de Mar in just 15 to 20 minutes. In the pre-coastal range flow regimes
are similar until the rivers reach the depression. Villages in the middle of the river's course or
next to the coastal range, such as Sant Esteve de Palautordera, Aiguafreda, el Figueró, la
Garriga, Bigues, Riells, Caldes de Montbui, Casellar del Vallès and Madepera have virtually
no time to react to flash floods. Those closer to the coast have a few hours warning since the
surge takes time to travel down to the sea. With regard to flood surges originating in the
Pyrenees the river Llobregat is regulated by a series of dams at Baells, Sant Ponç, and the
recently completed Llosa del Cavall. However this flood control does not apply to its
tributaries, the Anoia and Riera de Rubí which are prone to flash floods.

There is little that can be done to control the risk in the Barcelona Area when flash flooding
occurs other than to sound warning sirens and evacuate the local population. Any strategy
must necessarily be based on prevention. For this reason flash floods must be considered in
the light of the basin as a whole and as a phenomenon whose incidence varies in time and
location. Any change in one part of the basin has repercussions elsewhere.

The effects of road works on river courses

Roads share many areas with rivers. River valleys are natural lines of communication and for
that reason many population centres are sited along them. Two points which are worth
considering in connection with the interaction of rivers and roads are: (1) the crossing of the
thalweg and (2) siting in the flood plain.

 The thalweg is normally crossed in one of two ways: either by a raised fording point or by a
civil engineering work such as a bridge, viaduct, etc. The first solution is highly
unsatisfactory (one only has to remember the death toll of those swept away by floods at
such points). The risk is higher with roads which use part of the torrent bed (the case in
Maresme county, for example Riera d‟Arenys and Riera de Cabrils, among others).

Civil engineering works can present problems either of stability or of drainage capacity. At
their heads, torrents run down steep gradients and water flows over bedrock. The torrents are
confined by rock walls and there are few deposits apart from a few boulders and large stones
strewn here and there without forming an alluvial bed. Flash floods produce strong erosion.
Boulders in the stream bed career downstream hitting rock walls and ripping out chunks of
the river bed, thus changing its profile. Despite this erosion, bridges and viaducts with
foundations in the bedrock do not normally suffer problems of stability.

The river courses from the Vallès-Penedès depression along the front of the Marina range
show two distinct sections with regard to erosion. In the first section floods transport
sediments which are deposited again once the spate abates. The transverse profiles of the
river bed before and after floods show little change, however the depth of sediments
transported downstream may run to several metres. In this case it is possible that pillars,
bridge supports, and wall foundations are stripped away, undermining bridges and viaducts.
The erosion is greater when low clearance of civil engineering works impedes or constricts
the flood surge. In such cases the constricted current speeds up and thus erodes even more of
the river bed. Many flood-caused bridge collapses over the last few years have been due to
undermining of pillars and supports. The second section of these rivers runs through lowland
courses close to their entry to the sea. Here the gradient is less than 1.1% which does not
allow flood waters to reach speeds capable of producing significant riverbed erosion or to
transport sediments. The lower gradient and water speed means that most of the sediments
are dumped at this point, causing widening of the river bed. Here, with a converse effect
compared to that upstream, bridge clearance is reduced because of the accumulation of
sediments, making it more difficult for flood waters to pass through unobstructed.

The capacity of bridges and viaducts to allow flood waters to pass through unhindered is
vital during flash floods. Bridges which obstruct floodwater increase flow speeds and, hence,
erosion and undermining as well as causing the river to rise upstream. During the 1994 flood
at Lliçà d‟Avall, the collapse of the central bridge pillar was caused by spans which were
partly blocked by tree trunks. The flood waters backed up and inundated an industrial estate.
Similar problems occurred with bridges at Bigues, Santa Eulàlia, and Lliça d‟Amunt which
(although they held up) produced the same backing up of flood waters.

Flotsam is a vitally important consideration in determining the ability of bridges and other
civil engineering works to let floodwater through unhindered. The height of bridges and
viaducts is usually calculated to clear floodwaters without taking into account any
obstruction by log jams. It has been suggested that a solution to this problem is to dredge the
river bed and cut down trees along the water course. Such an idea is both patently absurd and
wholly ineffective. The forest bordering the water course plays an important ecological role
and is used for leisure purposes - sufficient reason to leave it intact. The measure is also
ineffective since cutting down trees along the banks would not prevent tree trunks being
carried down by the flood (most of these are carried down by land slips near the headwaters
and the fall of trees from steep hillsides). Such a solution merely shows a mind-boggling lack
of imagination - the clearance of bridges and viaducts should take log jams and flotsam into
The effects of building on flood plains

The main rivers in the Barcelona Area (Llobregat, Tordera, Riera d‟Argentona, Besòs,
Mogent, Congost, Tenes, Riera de Caldes, Ripoll, Riera de les Arenes, Anoia, and Foix)
have well-developed flood plains. These are fertile areas and have been traditionally used for
crops, although many of these have changed use over the last few decades. Large
infrastructures, such as motorways and industrial estates, take up much of the flood plains.
The A-2 motorway from Sant Just to Martorell, the coastal ring road towards the Free Port,
the Garraf motorway, and more recently, the Llobregat dual carriageway all follow the
Llobregat valley on embankments along the flood plain. The same is true of the A-7
motorway with regard to the Besòs and Tordera valleys and the Vic dual carriageway where
it runs through above a river gorge. Other smaller roads also follow river courses.

Building on flood plains has various consequences. The flood plains which protect the
population in time of floods are reduced by road schemes (e.g. the impact of the A-2
motorway at Sant Feliu de Llobregat and Molins de Rei), accommodating lower flow
volumes so that waters rise further and back up to affect areas which were previously trouble
free. A situation of this type occurred in Aguafreda during the 1994 flood. The Vic dual
carriageway was built on the right bank of a flood plain opposite an industrial estate. The
floodwaters were obstructed by the new road, leading to inundation of the estate, N-152 road
and town centre. The industrial estate was prone to flooding before the building of the road,
however building embankments on the flood plain simply worsened the situation. Similar
situations have generated legal suits in the villages of Baix Llobregat where the inhabitants
have traditionally built levees to protect the village centres from flooding.

Road embankments built on flood plains reduce the possibilities of sheet flow when the river
is in spate since water is prevented from spreading out over the whole plain. While the river
runs deep and fast in the river bed, flood water spilling out on to the flood plain travels much
more slowly since a shallow water depth exercises a braking effect. Furthermore, the fact that
water on the flood plain flows more slowly than that in the main channel means that
effectively, it is no longer part of the storm surge. This mechanism explains why the more
land is flooded, the smaller the storm surge. Sheet flooding plays an important role in
dissipating a flood‟s energy. The lower river sections in the Vallès counties have lower flood
surges than those produced by the upper river sections where they emerge from the pre-
coastal range. Using flood plains as sites for large constructions hinders sheet flow and
increases the size of storm surges, thus endangering townships downstream.

Flooding is a natural feature in poorly drained land. Road works have worsened the problems
of flooding by making insufficient allowance for evacuation of flood waters, particularly in
delta areas and coastal plains, if the drainage system is poorly laid out. The Castelldefels and
Botigues de Sitges section of the A-16 motorway to Garraf causes damming at various
points. Similar problems appear to be connected with the path of the N-11 road through
towns and villages in the Maresme, while RENFE rail embankments cause problems not just
in the Maresme but also at Sitges, Vilanova i la Geltrú, and Cubelles. Where the drainage
network is relatively dense the solution adopted (as in the case of the Maresme‟s A-19
motorway) has been to divert several small streams into a larger stream running below the
embankment. The diversion of streams into other water courses might be one explanation for
the increase in the size of storm surges in the county.

The effects of urbanisation on storm surges
The impact of urbanisation on the hydrological system cannot be reduced to a simple cause
(urbanisation) and effect (higher risks of flooding) problem. Catastrophic floods can result
from a combination of circumstances which are difficult both to identify and to predict
(including such factors as urbanisation in headwater areas, blocking of flood channels by
construction rubble or gravels, and the timing and location of rainfall). Analysis of the
impact of urbanisation in terms of increased risk of flooding is thus fraught with difficulties
and illustrates the complexity of analysing phenomena which have serious environmental
implications for the area.

The hydrological system has had a decisive influence on settlement patterns. The river beds
are dry for most of the year, which explains why they began to be used as paths or access
points to the town. Later they were turned into planted parkways. The low frequency and
fickleness of disastrous floods has led to many areas prone to flash floods being heavily
developed to the point where many have a dual character (urban or agricultural and as water
courses). In addition, urbanisation makes the ground impermeable and thus severely limits
the capacity of the land to soak up rain. In densely-populated cities, natural water courses
(rivers and torrents) have been substituted by storm drains and sewerage networks which fit
in with the needs of the road network. Thus hydrology in a metropolitan context is a subject
which takes in both natural and man-made systems.

Table 15 Townships exposed to flood risk

               Area                       1981               1994         Variation (%)
Maresme                                 253,477            312,163            23.15
Besòs                                   460,328            521,068            13.19
Llobregat: lower valley and delta       504,005            560,831            11.16
Source: Les inundacions (flooding). Applied ecology papers. Barcelona municipal authority.

The increase in storm surges is mainly due to the continuing urbanisation, as much for the
increased impermability of the ground as for the form of construction. It is quite common to
find undersized storm drain systems in coastal town and villages which are unable to cope
with heavy rain. The urban sprawl of the 1970‟s and 1980‟s put much greater strain on local
drainage systems, especially where these were intended to deal with both sewage and rain.
The Maresme Strategic Flood Protection Plan identifies the use of the seasonal river bed for
traffic as a serious problem.

Table 16 Land area rendered impermeable

    Land use                         Present                               Future
                                 2                                     2
                      Area (km )                 %          Area (km )               %
High density             16.1                   5.30           33.7                 11.10
built up area
Medium density           16.1                   5.30            41.8                13.76
built up area
Low density              11.5                   3.78            11.5                 3.78
built up area
Total built up           43.7                  14.38            87.0                28.64
Agricultural              68.2                  22.45           50.8                16.72
Woodland                 191.9                  63.17          166.0                54.64
Total area               303.8                 100.00          303.8                100.00
Source: ADASA study (1992) for PTMB

Flash floods in the Mediterranean area have been intermittent phenomena, even if relatively
common ones. Over the last few years urbanisation in the Barcelona metropolitan area has
strongly affected the mechanisms underlying flash floods in two ways: by increasing the run-
off coefficient and reducing the capacity for sheet flooding.

Changes in the run-off coefficient
In a given river basin, the size of the storm surge is basically controlled by the amount and
duration of rainfall. Thus, the same amount and duration of rainfall should produce the same
response - i.e. an identical storm surge formed in the same period of time. Various factors
may affect the actual storm surge produced, such as the course of the storm. However, land
use is undoubtedly one of the most important factors in determining the form the actual surge
takes. The time taken for the rainfall to reach the river channel depends on the obstacles it
encounters in its path.

Heavily-wooded areas slow down both the speed with which rainfall reaches the ground and
run-off. Some of the rain hits leaves and slowly makes its way to ground along twigs,
branches, and trunks. Undergrowth and scrub hinder run-off and help water soak into the
soil, while root systems act as a sponge. Water does not have the same opportunity to
accelerate down forested gorges and slopes. It has to rain much longer under such conditions
to generate the same storm surge as would be the case for hillsides denuded of vegetation.
Urbanisation has made river basins less permeable and increased run-off speeds and
volumes. Roof tiles and tarred roads allow almost all the rain to reach gutters and drains,
from which the sewer and storm drain system efficiently and rapidly channels it into rivers.
The time taken for a storm surge to build up is thus drastically reduced, while its size is
increased because of the reduced capacity of the river basin to slow down and soak up
rainfall. Urbanisation has extended the metropolitan area considerably. This expansion of
built up areas clearly has a lot to do with the increase in flash floods over the last few years in
Maresme county (Alella and Cabrils water courses).

Forest fires, which have seared the land over the last few years, have also increased run-off in
affected river basins. They are also responsible for an increase in the amount of soil being
washed into rivers because of an increase in erosion on land stripped of vegetation. The
increased run-off due to impermeabilisation of the land means that the time taken for a storm
surge to form in an urban area is shortened while its size is increased in a direct relationship
with the increase in the urban area. Infrastructure and protective works based on periods of
return calculated for a natural river basin may prove insufficient in the light of these changes.

The growth of residential areas has led to the incorporation of river beds into the urban
fabric. Such schemes often leave a great deal to be desired, with incompatibility between
residential or road use and the river as a water course. This has proved a chronic problem in
the city of Barcelona, which is gradually being solved by incorporating the rivers into a
system of storm drains. In contrast, many villages in the Maresme use river beds as streets
and improvised car parks. Covering the rivers does not provide the ideal solution, as a
covered river gives a feeling of safety which may prove largely illusory in the event of
flooding. The size of such schemes has to take into account a number of factors such as
maximum flow capacity and debris carried which may block the inlet to the storm drain.
Another problem occurs where torrents reach the sea since the gentler gradient there means
sediments and debris are dumped. Many of the underpasses at the N-11 road and the railway
line become blocked by sediments during flash floods. If the river courses were covered,
sedimentation at the outfall would reduce the flow cross-section and hence maximum flow

Reduction of sheet flow capacity in flood plains

At the beginning of the 20th century most of the flood plains in the Barcelona Area formed
sandy or pebbled areas which were gradually used as fields. Urban pressure in riverside
villages and the building of roads have slowly pushed out agricultural use in these areas. In
many cases the change of use was not accompanied by flood precautions. Channelling of the
upper course of some of the rivers means reconsidering the size of scale of infrastructures

Settlement of the flood plain by dwellings and factories has other side effects. The possibility
of drums full of chemicals being swept away by flood water is one. This not only presents a
potential source of pollution but also endangers rescue and cleanup teams called out in a
flood emergency.
2.3 Emissions and air quality: dispersion of air pollutants

The atmosphere suffers from gas and particle emissions. Air pollution, which is often
difficult to appreciate, is a significant risk factor and a source of numerous problems.

The pollutant dispersal mainly depends on two basic meteorological factors: wind and the
stability of the air layers. These factors vary considerably in the Barcelona Area depending
on the location and the nature of the urban area. The energy balance in the lower layers of the
atmosphere is strongly determined by solar heating of the surface. Heavily built up areas alter
the behaviour of these lower levels (one can speak of a boundary layer), and generate:

Increase in turbulence. On the one hand this means lower wind speeds, and on the other, less
stable stratification because of mechanical effects.

Alterations to the energy budget due to the albedo effect. The albedo (reflective index) is
lower and hence more solar radiation is absorbed. This leads to quicker heating of the ground
air layer during the day (with gradual cooling at night). The diurnal temperature variation is
therefore more extreme than in the suburbs.

The pollutants emitted by each source are quantitatively and qualitatively determined by the
fuel and/or the industrial process employed. A given combustion process may result in the
emission of carbon monoxide (CO), nitrogen oxides (NOx), volatile organic compounds
(VOCs), particles and sulphur dioxide (SO2). Both transport and chemical reactions take
place once pollutants have been released into the atmosphere. Occasionally the most harmful
pollutants are not those released directly (primary pollutants) but those formed by chemical
reactions between these pollutants and naturally-occurring atmospheric components. Two
examples of these secondary pollutants are ozone (O3) and sulphuric acid (H2SO4).

Pollution sources

In estimating air pollution in the Barcelona Area both man-made sources and natural sources
have to be considered. The man-made sources considered here are: road traffic, air traffic,
shipping, petrol stations, industries, fuel tanks, domestic emissions (mainly from heating
systems). The only natural source considered is the emission of hydrocarbons from forest

Point and area sources

The three point sources considered are industries, service stations, and fuel tanks. The
maximum industrial emission of NOx (between 2,000 metric tons and 3,000 metric tons a
year) is produced in the Sant Feliu de Llobregat township originating from the cement
company La Auxiliar de la Construcción. There is a further heavy emission of the same gas
in the Montcada i Reixac township (between 1,500 metric tons and 2,000 metric tons a year,
mainly from the Asland cement company. The FECSA and Besòs thermal power stations
release between 500 and 1,000 metric tons of NOx between them. Another pollutant, SO2, is
typically spewed out by cement and glass companies, and oil-fired thermal power stations,
given that these industries use fossil fuels (coal or fuel oil) with a high sulphur content. The
highest SO2 emissions (between 3,000 and 3,500 metric tons a year) are also produced by
cement companies and thermal power stations.

An area source is made up of a group of point sources, the density of the latter making it
easier to consider the source on an area basis (normally using density/area as a measure).

Linear sources

These are emissions produced along a longitudinal axis and may be applied to road traffic,
shipping, and air transport. With regard to the geographical distribution of annual emissions
of VOCs and NOx from traffic, the biggest emissions of VOCs (500 metric tons a year) are
in city centre areas where traffic speeds are relatively low, while the highest NOx emissions
(300 metric tons/year) are produced along trunk roads and motorways. Peak NOx emissions
occur between 8 a.m. and 9 a.m. and fall to a minimum during the morning. The highest
levels are to be found both in the city and on major trunk roads but while levels fall off in
outlying areas at night, they remain high in urban areas.

Table 17

Sources of the main air pollutants

                 Pollutant                                         Sources
Sulphur Dioxide (SO2)                           Combustion processes in domestic heating, power
                                                stations, industrial boilers, waste incineration,
                                                vehicles, etc.
Nitrogen Oxides (NOx)                           Transport, combustion processes
Particles in suspension                         Transport, combustion processes
Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)               Transport, combustion processes, chemical processes,
                                                solvents, etc.
Potentially toxic VOCs                          Combustion of petroleum products, evaporation of
 Benzine                                        petrol
 Polynuclear Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAH)        combustion processes
 Formaldehyde                                   combustion processes
VOC photochemical precursors                    Transport and solvents
Heavy metals
 Lead (Pb)                                      Petrol additive
 Cadmium (Cd)                                   Combustion processes, production
Carbon Monoxide (CO)                            Transport and secondary combustion processes
Ozone (O3) and peroxiacetyl (PAN)               Secondary pollutants
Source: Jose Maria Baldasano
The main air pollutants
A brief analysis of air pollutants comparing the levels reached with legally established air
quality criteria permits the following observations:

     Sulphur dioxide (SO2): An analysis of average annual levels in the city of Barcelona
    reveals a trend towards improved air quality, with a steady decline in this pollutant
    from 1979 to 1996 (an 83% fall over the period). In the Barcelona Region there has
    been a similar trend with a 65% fall between 1986 and 1996. Current annual levels
    are at around 15g/m3 which is under 50% of the guideline figure of 40-60g/m3
    adopted by the EU.

     Particles in suspension: Measured using the black smoke method, these showed a
    marked increase between 1979 and 1980, and then underwent a steady fall from a
    peak in 1980 to 1989 (a 58% reduction), followed by a more gradual decline to 1996
    to reach a 75% reduction over the 1980 figure. The average annual concentration of
    particles in suspension is of the order of 30g/m3 (average annual figure for black
    smokes), which is under the guideline figure of 40-60g/m3 adopted by the EU.

     Nitrogen oxides (NOx): Annual average concentrations of this pollutant showed a
    slow but stead decline of 24% from 1986 to 1993, a rise in 1994 and 1995, falling
    again in 1996. The current figure is 14% lower than the 1986 figure. This slight
    reduction brings the annual average figure to 50g/m3 which is 50% of the guideline
    figure enshrined in EU and Spanish legislation.

     Carbon monoxide (CO): This pollutant showed a 41% increase from 1986 to 1987,
    however the peak values in a 1 hour and 8 hour period have declined by 57% and
    62% respectively. The concentration of 5-6 mg/m3 in 1996 was a third of the
    maximum figure established by Spanish legislation (15 mg/m3 ).
     Ozone (O3): The 1996 concentration of this pollutant expressed as 98% of hourly
    readings was 118g/m3 (i.e. only 2% of hourly readings exceeded this figure). There
    was a steady increase in this pollutant of 32% between 1986 and 1990, a return to the
    1986 figure between 1991 and 1993 and then a further rise of 12%.

Air quality
An analysis of air quality in the Barcelona Area at the end of the 1980‟s showed a clear
downward trend in SO2 and particles and a certain stabilisation with regard to other
pollutants. In general one can say that air quality has improved compared with previous
years. However that is far from saying that certain pollutants have no harmful effects on
health over the medium to long term, even though they are present in lower amounts.
Establishing the effect of pollutants on health is a thorny epidemiological problem and
without long-term studies and clearly-defined pathologies one cannot demonstrate a link
between certain illnesses and specific substances.

Table 18
Trends in NO2, O3, CO, and HC in the city of Barcelona (1986-1994)

            86       87       88        89       90       91        92       93       94
NO2        66.5     69.0     60.0      57.6     57.7     52.6      52.3     46.0     52.4
O3           -      34.5     42.1      39.7     35.6     33.9      30.7     29.0     33.3
CO        1.9     1.9       3.2    2.9       2.0       1.8       1.7     1.7       1.4
HC        1.6     1.7       2.1    2.2       2.2       2.3       2.5     2.1        -
Source: Commission for environmental policy and sustainability. Barcelona city council
Table 19

Average levels of SO2, smoke, CO and NO2 in the city of Barcelona (1997)

     Month           SO2(1)          Smoke (2)           CO(3)           NO2(4)
January                12                47                2.2            54
February               13                35                1.6            49
March                  12                35                1.3            56
April                  13                34                1.0            51
May                    12                32                0.8            53
June                   11                32                0.8            52
July                   11                32                0.8            54
August                 10                20                0.7            33
September              10                34                1.1            60
October                10                42                1.7            68
November               10                40                1.5            55
December               11                46                1.9            49
                            3                                     3
Maximum value SO2: 80g/m for a value associated with >40g/m smoke
                      20g/m3 for a value associated with <40g/m3 smoke
(2) Maximum value: 80g/m3
Measurement unit: mg/m3
Measurement unit: 80g/m3
Source: U.O. Environmental Analysis and Control. Barcelona city council

The biggest reduction in pollutants has taken place in Barcelona itself with over 4 million
therms of liquid and solid fossil fuels being replaced by less contaminating gas fuels
during the last half of the 80s.. This change in fuel is also proceeding in the rest of the
area. Another factor explaining the fall in the emission of pollutants is the use of natural
gas for most of the electricity generated in the FECSA power stations at Badalona, Besòs
and Sant Adrià, (which run at reduced capacity). At the beginning of the 1980‟s the coast
to the north of the Besòs river, between the power stations,the Cros company, Celo and
Atevi (glass manufacturers), and other industries burnt more than half of the Province‟s
annual consumption of 60,000 metric tons of fossil fuels a year. The industries in the
Besòs area have largely been replaced by service companies, producing a marked drop in
atmospheric emissions for the whole area.
Table 20
Total amount of air pollution by source in the BMA during 1990 (metric tons/year).

       Source          VOCs          NOx             CO             SO2         Particles       Total
                      tons/yr.      tons/yr.       tons/yr.       tons/yr.      tons/yr.      tons/yr.
Road traffic           26,198(1)    25,349         128,831          648          1,181        182,207
                      14,939         7,486          1,058         10,249         15,866        49,598
Natural             3,660(2)    0                     0              0              0          3,660
Petrol stations     1,617       0                     0              0              0          1,617
Heating               247(4) 1,180                   752           464              0          2,643
Storage tanks         126(5)    0                     0              0              0           126
Shipping               37     150                    43             42              0           272
Air traffic            21      55                    78              5              2           161
      Total          46,845 34,220                 130,762        11,403         17,049       240,279
Source: Jose Maria Baldasano
     methane: 2080, alkanes: 10,841, alkenes: 4245, aromatic compounds:8486, aldehydes: 546
     alkanes: 1313 alkenes: 267, aromatic compounds: 37
     methane: 165, alkanes: 45, alkenes: 16, aromatic compounds:5, aldehydes: 16
     alkanes: 102,alkenes:21, aromatic compounds:3
     methane: 7, alkanes: 20 alkenes: 4, aromatic compounds:2, aldehydes: 4
     methane: 1, alkanes: 9, alkenes: 4, aromatic compounds: 5, aldehydes: 2

The results of the EMITEMA-EIM model reveals that the main source of air pollution in
the Barcelona Area in 1990 was road traffic. This source accounted for some 182,207
metric tons a year, or approximately 76% of total emissions of which 70.71% was CO;
13.91% NOx,; 14.38% VOCs; 0.65% particles; and 0.36% SO2. A more detailed analysis
shows that road traffic was responsible for 80.19% of hot emissions, 17.54% of cold
emissions, and the (remaining) 2.27% as vapour emissions. Light vehicles emitted 95.4%
of VOCs produced in hot emissions, 77.01% of NOx, 98.55% of CO, 14.15% of SO2, and
65.91% of particles. Despite their smaller number, heavy vehicles produced more SO2
than light vehicles.

Industry is the main source of SO2 and particles (20.66% and 31.99% respectively). These
percentages are understandable bearing in mind high sulphur content fuels are generally
used and that there are a large number of cement companies in the area, which are
responsible for very high particle emissions. Biological sources are also worth mentioning,
being responsible for 7.81% of total VOC emissions.

An overall analysis of air pollutants reveals that the most frequent substance is CO
(54.42%) followed by VOCs (19.5%); NOx (14.24%); particles (7.10%); and SO2
(4.75%). The high percentage of CO, typically found in urban areas, confirms high traffic
densities in the area given that it is one of the main pollutants produced by combustion. In
the case of VOCs in the Barcelona Area, road traffic accounts for over half (55.92%),
while the amounts produced by industry and woodland are 31.89% and 7.81%
respectively). In the case of NOx, the biggest source is road traffic once again (74.08%)
and to a lesser extent industry (21.88%) and heating (3.45%). Almost 100% of CO
emissions are produced by road traffic (98.52%). Industry, as mentioned previously, is the
main producer of SO2 (89.84%) followed by road traffic (5.68%) and heating (4.07%).
Industry is responsible for the overwhelming majority of particle emissions (93.06%).
Table 21
Pollutants emitted by road traffic in the Barcelona Area in 1990 (metric tons/year)

      Source            VOCs        NOx          CO         SO2        Particles        Total
                        metric     metric      metric      metric       metric         metric
                        tons/yr    tons/yr     tons/yr     tons/yr      tons/yr        tons/yr
Hot emissions (light    17,980     18,590      99,870        91           754         137,285
Hot emissions           866         5,551       1,467        552          390           8,826
(heavy vehicles)
Cold emissions         3,212        1,208      27,494         5            37         31,956
Vapour emissions       4,140          0           0           0            0           4,140
       Total          26,198       25,349      128,831       648         1,181        182,207
Source: Jose María Baldasano

Two important factors affect the perceived air quality in the Barcelona Region: the first is
the ever greater number of vehicles on the roads and the number of kilometres driven, the
second is the adoption of a tighter EU standard on air pollution. The EU approved
Directive 96/62/CE of 21.11.1996 on the evaluation and management of air quality (DOL
296 21.11.1996) which requires improvements in air quality over the next fifteen years, as
well as an immediate reduction in acceptable levels. This implies that pollution levels
which are currently acceptable will no longer be so in the future and that some regions
now considered clean or with acceptable pollution levels will need to plan improved clean
up policies, as well as including in the measurement of pollutants a number not included in
the traditional list (i.e. SO2, NOx, particles, Pb, O3, benzine, PAH, CO, Cd, As, Ni, and

Table 22
Comparison of European and U.S. annual emissions of VOCs (106 kg/yr.)

           Country                  Total VOC emissions               Per capita emissions
                                          106 kg/yr.                 (kg per inhabitant/yr)
East Germany                                2,460                              40
Bulgaria                                    2,594                             291
Canada                                      1,783                              69
Denmark                                      184                               35
United States                              19,400                              79
France                                      2,874                              52
Netherlands                                  480                               33
Italy                                       1,535                              27
Norway                                       188                               45
Poland                                      1,651                              43
Portugal                                     156                               15
United Kingdom                              1,816                              32
Sweden                                       460                               55
Switzerland                                  339                               51
Barcelona Area                               43                                12
VOC: Volatile Organic Compound
Source: Jose María Baldasano
Geology and soils
3.1 Substrate and relief: geo-technical problems
Almost all of the rock types in Catalonia are present in the Barcelona Area, ranging from
deposits dating from a few thousand years (basically alluvial sediments) to over 400
million years, comprising Palaeozoic granites and plutonic rocks. The relief is also
extremely varied and one can find steep mountain ranges within a few kilometres of
almost flat deltas. Meanwhile weathering agents (chiefly water) work on rock and soils to
carve out new landscapes.

Relief units
Three large areas of relief can be identified in the area: the coastal mountain range; the
pre-coastal depression; and the pre-coastal mountain range together with the central
depression. The two mountain ranges form the so-called Mediterranean system with
various structural elements of different ages and geological characteristics. First, there is
the old Herzian massif making up the southern part of the Mediterranean system, i.e. the
range next to Maresme county - separated from the pre-coastal depression by a fault which
provides the course taken by the Tordera river - and by the relief of the pre-coastal range
which provides the dividing line between the two Vallès counties and their neighbours.
The rocks are Palaeozoic and are between 250 and 400 million years old.

The coastal range at the Maresme is a massif with a complicated geological history and is
basically made of granite, a rock which disintegrates easily under the action of erosive
agents and produces sandy regolith, an unstable material which forms thin, loose soils
supporting sparse vegetation. The mountain range has undergone differential erosion
depending on the varying composition of the granite found at different altitudes.
Montnegre, at the north east corner of the county and with slates and thin layers of
Devonian calcareous rocks and Carboniferous sandstones and conglomerates, has resisted
erosion better than the surrounding area and is consequently higher than the other peaks.
The sediments washed down from the mountains during the Quaternary by mountain
torrents form areas at the base which have provided the site for human settlement and

The Collserola range rises between the Maresme coastal range and the Garraf massif,
enclosing the city of Barcelona and most populous townships. The materials present in
Collserola are varied but slates predominate and are underlain by a granite base. The plain
of Barcelona is located between the base of Collsorola and the sea, and is made up of
tertiary deposits, undulating slightly at Montjuïc and Mont Taber and covered with
Quaternary deposits. These materials are bounded by the Besòs and Llobregat deltas,
alluvial plains (with large aquifers) which appeared some 3,000 years ago as a result of the
sediments carried down by the rivers. The course of the river Llobregat follows one of the
valleys opened up in one of the three original large scale relief elements and by a fault
which led to a drop in the Garraf massif relative to the Collserola range.
The Coastal Depression is located behind the coastal range in a tectonic trough between
two large faults which form the Mediterranean system, comprising soft Miocene deposits
which river courses have worn down to form a wide alluvial plain which extends to where
Montnegre and Montseny massifs join. The Southern part of the pre-coastal range, i.e.
from the Llobregat divide to Montseny, consists of the Eocene conglomerates of
Montserrat and Sant Llorenç de Munt, the Eocene outcrops of Bertí, and part of the
Montseny massif which is a Palaeozoic range consisting mainly slate and granite deposits.
In the Southern half of the Mediterranean system the range continues towards Penedès
between folds and faults in its Triassic and Cretaceous deposits (conglomerates, clays and
marls) particularly in the Anoia valley.

The Penedès trench is located between pre-coastal relief and Garraf (the latter an Alpine
structure dating from the early Tertiary) and is a continuation of the pre-coastal depression,
very thickly covered with continental Miocene sediments which gradually give way to
finer and more clay like sediments towards the South West. The geological landscape
undergoes a complete transformation in the Garraf massif, which is expressed in a change
in the vegetation and soils of the area. The relief here is formed by Miocene calcareous
rock with the typical landscape features of Karst scenery (dry land unsuitable for
agriculture, sink holes, caves, little surface drainage and many underground streams).

Geo-technical issues
This wealth of geological and rock types is reflected by different erosion characteristics
and human responses to the environment. The man-made landscape and human activities
have the geological substrate as their starting point which in turn strongly conditions the
agricultural, building, and engineering options available in fashioning the area.

Deformable and expansive soils
Soil strength is determined by its structure and stratification. When soil particles are
loosely packed, the application of a vertical load tends to modify the soil so that it
acquires greater density through a process of consolidation. The compacted soil occupies a
smaller volume after vertical settlement takes place Two soil types are highly

Coastal organic soils: These are mainly found in old coastal lagoons which have been
covered either naturally or artificially by other materials. These fine soils are generally
limes with a high proportion of organic material and sometimes contain highly porous,
spongy peat. Pockets of organic soils have been found in the Llobregat and Besòs deltas,
although one cannot rule out there presence in other coastal areas. Buildings sited on these
areas without taking into account the nature of these soils have suffered subsequent
settlement and cracking of walls (e.g. in the Free Port district of Barcelona).

In-fill: These deposits are the product of dumping of construction material on the edge of
small torrents and rivers or by the reopening of old gravel pits on the alluvial plains of the
main water courses around Barcelona (i.e. Llobregat and Besòs). Many gravel and sand
pits were opened in the 1960s and 70s and then filled in with (theoretically inert) building
waste. However, illegal dumping often took place and this has prejudiced water quality in
aquifers. The material was dumped without any compacting, which makes it extremely
porous and prone to deformation. The poor carrying capacity of these layers has forced
expensive construction work in building the Baix Llobregat dual carriageway and Coastal
Ring road to remedy this problem (dynamic compacting, pre-loaded embankments). Some
of the building in the Besòs area have suffered structural defects because they were built
on uncompacted detritus.

The measures required in dealing with this land fill are technically complicated and
extremely expensive. The depth of the in-fill varies but can reach 15-20 metres in some of
the re-opened gravel pits in the Llobregat Delta. The depth of the in-fill makes its removal
difficult, not only because of the sheer volume involved but also because it is mixed with
urban wastes in an advanced state of decomposition and thus very hot. This Devil‟s
cocktail is extremely dangerous to handle because of the gases formed (methane,
hydrochloric acid, etc.) It is calculated that there are over 400 ha. of in-fill in the Gavà,
Viladecans and Sant Boi de Llobregat townships alone, which are often difficult to localise
because the gravel pits involved have often been re-opened and subsequently used for
agriculture. Old aerial photographs may provide a useful tool in identifying such sites.

Mineral rich expansive clays can undergo significant expansion and contraction depending
on their water content. This feature can cause differential settlement, particularly under
light structures such as houses. While these clays are not abundant, the area of Cerdanyola
del Vallès and the Autonomous University of Barcelona have observed this problem in
marine Miocene clays.

Cuttings in unstable clays

Miocene deposits in the Vallès depression are far from homogeneous. There are areas
where clay layers predominate, such as around Castellbispal which are prone to slipping.
In other places the clays alternate with sands, slates, shales, and conglomerates, and are
more stable. The cuttings made in these formations show two types of instability:

Deep slippage. This is particularly true of the cuttings to the North, given that the strata are
  mainly oriented in this direction (as one can see on the road from Terrassa to Osesa via
  Ullastrell). Clays predominate and rotational slippage occurs, a case in point being
  along the A18 motorway to Terrassa and the sides of the B-30 between Sant Cugat and
  Cerdanyola, or the N-152 to Granollers.
Surface slippage. This consists of the slipping of slate blocks and conglomerates. These
  tumble down when the heavily weathered clay at their base is eroded. Shallow surface
  slips are caused by decompression after excavation, the slip occurring some years after
  the material has been removed and fissures opened in the talus front.

Tectonic areas
Broken fault areas yield poor quality building materials whose use is a source of problems.
Important fault areas are to be found in the Llobregat valley (the Eastern corner of Turó de
les Forques in the Martorell gorge and the Southern boundary of the Vallès-Penedès
depression, particularly in areas of slate outcrops (Ribes Blaves between Olsesa de
Montserrat and Viladecavalls) and in the Collserola massif. Weak, strongly folded slates
were responsible for the land slip at the Northern mouth of the Floresta tunnel (Vallvidrera
road) during construction work. A similar cause would seem to underlie the collapse of
mouth “E” of the Martorell railway tunnel at a fault line where Llobregat gorge slates
make contact with Miocene clays.
Fractured rock massifs
The Catalan coastal ranges mainly consist of resistant rocks and these produce no
particular building problems. The oldest rocks in the ranges are slates and granites which
are heavily fractured which may give rise to slipping. Plane slipping and block landfalls
are more common in cuttings in slates whereas block slips tend to predominate in granite
cuttings. Almost all lines of communication go through areas where large blocks have
fallen on to the road or railway during heavy rains. Slates in bedding planes inclined at
over 30% fracture sooner or later. Rockfalls have occurred along the following stretches of
road: Arrabassada; Horta to Cerdanyola/ cemetery; Roca; Terrassa to Manresa via la
Bauma; Sant Celoni to Santa Fe del Montseny; Santa Maria de Palautordera to Collformic;
A-18 motorway to Montcada; A-7 motorway to Martorell; and at the railway station at
Martorell. Vila, among others. Falls of granite blocks are less frequent because they are
less heavily fractured. However cuttings along the N-11 road to Caldetes, Calella and
Arenys de Mar have suffered fractures as has the N-152 at la Garriga.

Despite these problems, cuttings continue to be dug according to purely geometrical
considerations without taking into account rock characteristics or considering the need for
reinforcement. This is clearly totally irresponsible and simply passes the buck to those
responsible for the upkeep of roads and to users themselves. Rockfalls on roads and
railways represent a serious risk to life and limb which should be minimised wherever
possible. Trying to rectify problems later is both more expensive and difficult.

Karst (limestone) areas
From the building standpoint, special care must be taken in Karst areas to locate cavities
which are prone to collapse or likely to produce subsidence. Most of the important Karst
areas are in protected nature areas (Garraf, Monserrat, and Sant Llorenç del Munt massifs).
The A-16 Garraf motorway runs through a limestone area and some of the tunnels are cut
through natural underground drainage channels. The water table itself lies beneath the
tunnels and thus no special measures were needed when building them. Because the rock
was strong the galleries only required cladding. However during heavy rain water falls on
to the road from the galleries. A new risk has recently appeared in the Massif with the
build up of methane and other gases, originating from the enormous rubbish tip in vall
d‟En Joan. The gas accumulation is gradually spreading to various parts of the massif.

3.2 Major geological risks: earthquakes and landslides
Instability is an integral part of geological systems which may change slowly or suddenly
without any human intervention. Modification of some of the parameters which help
stabilise the system can have catastrophic consequences for people and property.
Landslides, rockfalls, and earthquakes all come under the heading of major geological

Seismic activity
Seismic activity in the Barcelona Region is relatively low and hence no special measures
need to be taken in building plans except in the districts near Montseny (Fogars de
Tordera, Gualba de Dalt). Sedimentary areas have the highest capacity to magnify seismic
shocks which is why these mainly affect the river beds in the Barcelona Region. The area
can be divided into the following categories, according to capacity to magnify seismic
shocks (listed in ascending order):

Areas with little potential for amplification of seismic shocks: includes the majority of
   rock substrates outcropping in the pre-coastal and coastal ranges: calcareous rocks,
   conglomerates, slates, marls, schists, cornelian, and some granites (Montseny massif).
   Although granites are considered as reference rocks, the heavily weathered granites in
   the coastal range are not included because these have mostly been reduced to sandy
   regolith in fine layers going down several metres.

Areas with a potential for moderate amplification of seismic shocks: includes
   metamorphosed granites and detrital formations from the Miocene period which fill
   the Vallès-Penedès depression. These comprise highly consolidated and partly
   cemented conglomerates and clays.

Areas with a potential for high amplification of seismic shocks: these include old
   quaternary deposits (alluvial terraces and soils and torrent sediments). They are
   moderately consolidated and lightly cemented.

Areas with a very high potential for amplification of seismic shocks: these include recently
   formed alluvial formations and the delta areas (Tordera, Besòs, and Llobregat deltas),
   as well as in-fill. The soils are unconsolidated and often fine-grained (sands and delta
   muds) with high water tables and are most prone to liquefaction.

Landslides and rock falls
Landslides are not particularly frequent in either Barcelona or the surrounding area.
However, urban expansion into unstable areas with steep slopes has led to an increase in
incidents, with a parallel increase in expenditure on stabilising taluses and hilltops.

Various factors are responsible for landslides, the most important of which is rainfall. Rain
water sinking into the earth increases water pressure on the soil while lowering its
mechanical strength. It is therefore hardly surprising that most landslides occur after heavy
rain on hillsides (although the relationship is not always a direct one). Short rain storms
(up to 24 or 48 hours) need to exceed 100 mm to produce landslides whereas during
prolonged wet spells (several weeks) much lighter rains can produce the same effect.
Sometimes several days of rain are required before the landslide becomes noticeable,
because the water slowly seeps into the soil and earth movement is almost imperceptible
over the first few days and accelerates with time. Several rock and soil formations have
been identified as being particularly prone to landslides:

Block slippage in weathered granites: these do not usually produce spontaneous slips on
    natural slopes but are instead associated with cuttings. The granitic formations in the
    Serralada de Marina range are heavily weathered. However the formation of cracks is
    affected by discontinuous planes (particularly along fault planes) filled with clay
    which favour the slippage of prismatic or tetrahedral blocks (as can be seen along the
    N-11 road to Arenys de Mar).

Landslides in rocky outcrops: the fall of large blocks occurs with the Miocene shales of
   Montjüic, with the calcareous rocks in the Bertí outcrops or with the massive
    conglomerates of Sant Llorenç de Munt and Montserrat. Large rock falls have
    occurred over the last five years (running to hundreds of cubic metres) which have
    tended to occur in cascade because of the lack of tree cover resulting from the large
    forest fires of 1986 and 1994. The rock falls are favoured by the presence of diaclastic
    faults in the rock. It is common to see two or three groups of faults, which provide a
    path for water penetration, freeze-thaw action and the growth of root systems which
    lever out blocks.

Rotational slippage in clay formations: Red clays from the lower Miocene (abundant in the
    Llobregat valley) have caused rotational slippage in the Ullastrell and Castellbisbal
    areas (particularly along the road to the railway station). At Papiol, successive
    recurrences of movement coinciding with periods of torrential rain (September 1971),
    caused cracks in houses and tilting of walls in much of the village. The continental
    Miocene clays around Granollers also produced small cracks (Coll de la Manya,
    Ametlla dual carriageway).

Tilting and landfalls: Lateral erosion and subsidence of cliffs and river banks in recent
     Miocene lime formations have produced very steep rock walls. Cracks appear at the
     top of these rock walls (which often have overhangs), leading to rock falls. Along the
     rivers Anoia between Gelida and Martorell, Ripoll between Sabadell and Santa Maria
     de Barberà, Congost in Llerona and Tordera at Santa Maria de Palautordera, lateral
     erosion favours this kind of landfall.
3.3 Mining activities: exploitation and restoration
Mining activities are largely confined to stone quarries and gravel pits and are directly
related to public works and/or the construction industry: calcareous marls, gravels, clays,
and silica sand for making cement, lime for ceramic products, concrete, mortars and glass.
For the sake of completeness and despite their relative unimportance, one should also add
to this list the tapping of geo-thermal water and the extraction of porphyrites and fluorite
in the Vallès. Commercialisation of mineral water from underground is an important
industry in the area, producing serious environmental problems due to over-exploitation of
aquifers. Due to the variety and complexity of the problems in the area and the resources
involved, this chapter only covers the problems produced by stone quarrying.

Observance of regulations
Prior to the 19th of August 1983 (when Regulations based on Law (Llei) 12/1981 of the
24th December, enacted by the Catalan Parliament came into force) mining in natural areas
was regulated by the Mines Law of 21/7/73, as amended by the General Regulations on
Mining Activities of 25/8/78 and The Hill Forestry Law of 8/6/57. The 1983 law
attempted to reduce the damage to the environment by requiring a land restoration plan
prior to granting mining licences and requiring a bond of not less than 400,000 pesetas per
hectare or 25% of the total cost of the restoration plan, the amount to be repaid to the
owner at the end of the warranty period (between 3 and 5 years after completion of
restoration work.) Although the current state of affairs still leaves much to be desired, it is
true that a remarkable improvement has occurred.

Most of the infractions detected have to do with irregularities in the granting of licences,
incompletion of the paperwork for restoration schemes, or delays in paying bonds.
However, the number of complaints registered does not reflect the impression of continual
infractions felt by those with the best understanding of the subject, particularly municipal
managers and environmental auditors. The range of infractions is extremely wide: ranging
from quarries which are still in operation although theoretically closed; quarries which
operate beyond their licensed area; extraction of material below that contracted; use of
quarry terraces to dump waste; opportunistic changes to the operating plans, and so on.. In
some cases it is difficult to detect the infraction, as, for example, with illegal quarrying
along river banks. The difficulty in this case lies in the speed with which such operations
are carried out, which makes them difficult to detect without excessive policing. In other
cases, even when the infraction has been detected, it can be difficult to identify the person
or persons responsible, a problem with illegal dumping where collusion between the
dumpers and the site owners may be almost impossible to rule out. Even so, it should be
perfectly possible to tighten up the checks # enough to catch at least the most blatant cases.

With regard to irregularities in licence processing, most quarries currently lack one or
more of the requisite licences (municipal licence, issued by the local council; mining
licence - issued by the General Sub-directorate of Mines (SGM), etc.). In addition to
informing the SGM of plans for site exploitation, the owner must also submit a copy of
this plan and another covering land restoration to the Catalan Government‟s
Environmental Protection Service (SPMN). The SPMN then makes a report on the
restoration plan and sets the amount of the bond. The SPMN report is binding where land
restoration requirements are concerned but does not have the power to forbid opening of a
new site on environmental grounds. This power belongs to the SGM alone, which holds
the complete set of documents mentioned above (as required by the Mines Law) and
decides whether or not to grant the licence.

The owner must also inform the local council of his plans, whereupon an application for
exploitation of non-building land is submitted to the Town Planning Commission which
then decides whether the application can go forward to the municipal licence stage.
Applications to the Generalitat (Catalan Government) are frequently processed in the
absence of council reports so that some of the quarries currently in operation in the SGM‟s
records do not exist as far as their local town council is concerned and from that point of
view are therefore illegal.

Environmental impact of quarrying
According to the Generalitat‟s Department of the Environment, in 1996 the Baix Llobregat
was the county with the greatest number and density of active quarries, most of which
quarried gravels and lime for the building industry and public works. Clay extraction for
brick making also represents an important local industry. The siting of these quarries is
largely determined by geology, thus quarrying in the Garraf is mainly for lime, in the
Maresme extraction of granitic sandis most important, while in the Vallès Oriental and
Occidental the industry is more diversified because the underlying strata are more varied.
Along with mineral availability, another factor in quarry location is nearness to the market,
since transport costs make up a significant part of the final price of the product. Thus
while quarries are obviously located where there are viable mineral deposits, they must
also be located as near the markets as possible.

Table 23
Number of active quarries in the Barcelona Region (figures in brackets indicate those
operating within an integrated restoration scheme).

  Material        Garraf       Baix    Barcelonès Maresme Vallès                     Vallès         Total
                             Llobregat                    Oriental                  Occidental
Limestone           8          9(3)                          2                                        19
Sand               2(1)        7(4)                          1                                        10
Gravel                         8(1)                1(1)    2(1)                                       11
Sandstone                        2                                                                    2
Slate                            1                           8                                        9
Clays                          6(3)                  1       1                                        8
Granite                                    2         1     7(1)                                       10
Granitic                                           4(1)      5                                        9
Fluorite                                                                  1                           1
Marble                                                                    2                           2
Porphyrites                                                               2                           2
Unknown                                                                   2                           2
Total               10           33             2             7           33             25          110
Source: data from the Environmental Protection Service. Directorate for the Natural Heritage, Generalitat de
Catalunya (Catalan Government). (No data is available for Alt Penedès).

The quarrying industry shows two quite different trends in its attitude towards the
environment, depending on whether the quarries concerned are sited in areas covered by
PEIN (Plan for Regions of Natural Interest). The approval of a special plan for the Garraf
massif in 1987, when over 26% of the area was affected by quarries, gave rise to a long
series of legal cases which have been shelved since 1992, when the quarrying companies
and national park managers reached agreements on reducing the area of exploitation and
progressively closing quarrying operations between 2013 and 2029.

The Special Plans for the Montseny (1977) and Collserola parks (1987) chose similar
solutions. Both allow quarrying activities in the outer park area, while forbidding it in the
park itself unless licensed before enactment of the special plans. These plans envisage the
progressive closure of quarries as the concessions come to an end. At the moment there is
just one quarry in the Montseny park which is nearing its closure date. Quarries in the
outer park are small scale operations, except for the Gualba marble quarry (where the
stone is actually quarried in underground galleries). The situation in Collserola park is
more conflictive but seems to be coming into line. There are still legal wrangles on the
municipal boundaries of Papiol and Sant Cugat del Vallès, while agreements are being
worked out for rhe restoration of the old quarries at Sant Feliu de Llobregat. A Special
Plan is being drawn up to restore the clay quarries at Papiol with a view to future
agricultural use and to rezone the area from land suitable for building to wooded parkland.

Outside the unprotected area, the picture is much less satisfactory. Official complaints
multiply and cover a wide range of infractions (including, among others, mining licences
not in order, activities beyond the licensed area, extraction of other minerals, changes to
the operational plans, use of quarry terraces as rubbish tips, etc.). Probably most
infractions occur in gravel pits, since such rapid quarrying makes irregularities more
difficult to detect. The closure of quarries where such infractions occur would seem to be
an exemplary punishment from the point of view of environmental legislation but can
prove counter-productive. Given the weak penalties which retention of the bond sums
represent, owners required to close their operations tend to abandon the site without doing
the restoration work, which in turns saddles the area with another abandoned quarry.
Demand trends vary for each quarrying sub-sector. While the demand for cement depends
on complex macro-economic factors, demand for building and ornamental stone is more
strongly influenced by local factors. Prospective growth in this sector makes it important
that working practices be regularised to fit in with the new environmental perspectives.

One of the common norms applicable to all areas covered by PEIN (Plan for Areas of
Natural Interest, enacted by the Catalan Government on 14/12/1992) states that “activities
will be regulated in accordance with Catalan Law 12/1981 of the 24th of December, save
where town planning or other regulations confer a greater degree of protection”. The four
major areas covered by PEIN and affected by quarrying activities are: the Garraf massif,
the Serra de Collserola, the Montseny massif, and the Conreria-Sant Mateu-Cellecs nature

The case of the Garraf massif
The landscape of the Garrraf massif is severely affected by quarrying activities. The
building of the Garraf motorway has also had an impact on the environment and on some
of the quarries. The motorway also opened up views of the large areas stripped of
vegetation by quarrying activities making the local population using the road more aware
of the problem. The Garraf Special Plan permitted legal quarrying operations to continue
after the date of its enactment (February 1987) until the concessions ran out and forbade
the granting of new concessions in the park area. Approval of the Special Plan gave rise to
legal challenges from the quarrying companies which were then exploiting over 26% of
the park area. The issue was taken to the Supreme Court which found in favour of the park
authorities. The decision represented a big step forward in recognising Special Plans as an
important tool in regional planning and as a framework for regulating sectoral interests. A
series of agreements have been signed with quarrying companies in the park since 1992
and the prospects for resolving the remaining legal disputes are encouraging. The
concession to ASLAND was reduced in 1992 from 230 hectares to 66.4 hectares, with
closure of the quarry in 2013. At which time the EACASA concession, reduced in 1993
from 40 to 32 ha. will also run out.

The most important agreement was signed in February 1995 between the Barcelona
Municipal Corporation, the Sitges Town Council and Uniland Cementera, S.A. The
cement company had a 30 year quarrying concession, renewable for up to 90 years in the
“Vallcarca” area which covered 2,300 ha. The Special Plan for the Protection of the
Environment and Landscape of the Garraf Nature Park zoned the area so that only Class A
and C minerals could be treated as an exception under the Special Plan and extracted in
open cast quarries. The fact that only 135.5 ha. of the 2,300 of the concession fell within
this definition meant that mineral extraction was forbidden in 94% of the site. This caused
the company to challenge the Special Plan in court. The agreement signed in 1995 closed
the issue, reducing the “Vallcarca” site from 2,300 ha. to 194 ha. until final closure in
2029. The agreement included company commitment to a land restoration programme and
to carrying out research to improve the the techniques of land restoration. The Barcelona
Municipal Corporation and the Sitges Town Council agreed to amend the Special
Treatment area to coincide with the revised concessions granted to the Corporación
Uniland and Uniland Cementera.

The case of the Montseny massif
The Montseny massif includes the Montseny Nature Park which has been declared a
Biosphere Reserve. The situation of the massif is gradually improving. The text of the
Special Plan for the Montseny Nature Park (267/7/1977) only permits quarries and mines
in the outer park area and excludes them from the park itself and areas of historic or
artistic interest (which include vegetation along the river banks). The quarries established
before enactment were permitted to continue under Article 32.1 of the Special Plan. The
Plan envisaged the gradual closure of quarries in the park as concessions came to an end.
In 1989 the park managers commissioned a prospective study of quarries in the area. At
that point there were 28 areas affected by abandoned workings, 11 in the outer park and
the other 17 in the park itself. The scars on the landscape left by the workings are
relatively small (between 200 m2 and 1 ha.), being mainly the result of stone and slate
quarries in the outer park and lime, slate, and granitic sand quarries in the park itself. In
addition, 9 working quarries were identified in the outer park and a further 13 in the park

The report identified 4 types of workings. The first included 7 quarries (4 in the nature
reserve and 3 in its area of influence) which were either permanently or sporadically active
and lacked both a quarrying licence and a restoration plan. The park proposal in this case
was to make an official complaint and force the owners to restore the land. A second
group of 12 quarries (9 in the park and 3 in the outer park) were in possession of quarrying
licences and had submitted a restoration plan, which in some cases was still awaiting
approval. The park management decided to license these quarries. The third group
included a group of 5 quarries (2 in the park and 3 in the outer park) which, despite
possessing the necessary licences and approved restoration programmes, had abandoned
the workings without carrying out restoration. In this case the park management applied
for legal revocation of the licences to ensure the irrevocable closure and subsequent
restoration of the quarries. A fourth group comprised 18 old stone quarries that had been
abandoned without restoration. The Barcelona Municipal Corporation embarked on a
policy of buying these up and restoring them. The situation is now improving. There is
now virtually no quarrying in the Integrated Reserve area, with just one quarry still in
operation which is subject to a closure order. The quarries in the outer park area, with the
sole exception of the Gualba marble quarry (where stone is quarried in underground
galleries), are very small affairs with relatively little impact on the surroundings. The
Special Plan tries to ensure that the environmental impact of these activities is closely

The case of Serra de Collserola
The Serra de Collserola also has problems with quarrying. The text of the Special Plan for
the Collserola Park, enacted in 1987, restricted mining activities in the outer park area to
those quarries in operation before the legislation came into force. The provisions also
required them to implement land restoration schemes. The park managers have identified
three black spots in the area. One of these is the “Sanson” lime quarry in the Sant Feliu de
Llobregat municipality. The quarry, now coming to the end of its concession period, is
getting ready for the restoration phase. However the closure of the quarry will not entail
the closure of the nearby processing plant. The raw material supplying this plant will be
imported in the future and stored under cover, which means the area will have to be re-
zoned to take the industrial installations into account.

The “Berta” stone quarry is an endless source of official complaints and legal disputes.
The quarry opened in 1922 and a 23 ha. perimeter in Sant Cugat del Vallès was granted in
1976. While the then perimeter met the General Metropolitan Plan‟s (GMP) requirements,
it was not long before the quarry exceeded this limit and spread into El Papiol, on land
destined for use as a graveyard. Despite a long list of infractions, the Mines Department
granted the company a new perimeter in 1991 without consulting the Park Management or
obtaining the consent of either of the two municipalities involved. Each new restoration
plan, supposedly revised to achieve more stable taluses, has meant a further extension of
the quarry beyond its conceded limits.

Clay extraction in El Papiol finally seems to be reaching a happy ending. Thanks to the
Special Plan currently being drawn up the GMP will be amended to re-zone the land from
“urban” to “woodland park”. Land restoration is planned over 20 years. The cost of the
scheme is considerably higher than originally planned. In order thta the owners do not pay
too heavily, the difference will be met through agreements with the government which will
infill the site with inert waste and pay the owners for its use.

The last mention goes to the lands known as “El Diluvial” at the edge of Collserola park
and within the municipal boundaries of Sant Feliu de Llobregat. This area includes several
closed clay quarries, is occupied by various businesses of the sector and is in a lamentable
state. The park management is trying to reach agreements to carry out co-ordinated
restoration work for the whole area.

The case of the Serra de Marina
Data on the problems associated with mining in the Nature Area of La Conreria-Sant
Mateu-Céllecs, in the Serra de Marina is very scant because the studies required for
drawing up the area management plan are still at a very early stage. However abandoned
quarries have been identified in Santa Maria de Martorelles, Alella, Teià, Montornès del
Vallès, Argentona and Cabrera de Mar municipalities.

As far as active quarries in the area are concerned, the most important are those producing
granite and kaolin. 4 of these (la Vallensana (Badalona); Pedra Blava (Òrrius); Anita
(Argentona) and Mercedes (Vilanova del Vallès) have a large impact on the environment.
With regard to La Vallensana, restoration work has begun at the Montcada i Reixac site
and its closure is planned for 2004.

Table 24
Number of quarries restored in the specified counties (the figures in brackets refer to those
which have had bond moneys returned)

 Material      Garraf      Baix        Barcelonès       Maresme        Vallès    Vallès    Total
                         Llobregat                                     Oriental Occidental
Limestone                    1                                            1                  2
Sand              1        13(5)                                                    1       15
Gravel                      10                             5(4)         13(6)     5(2)      33
Slates                                                                   2(1)                2
Clays                         1                                           1       4(1)       6
Granite                                                                  2(1)                2
Granitic                                                   1(1)          1(1)       1        3
Geo-                          2                                                        1(1)         3
Unknown                      2                                           1(1)          2(2)         5
Total             1          29              -               6            21            14         71
Source: Data from a list provided by the Environmental Protection Service. General Directorate for the
Environment of the Generalitat de Catalunya (Catalan Government). (No data available for the Alt Penedès)

The restoration of exhausted quarries
Quarrying and mining operations have a big impact on the countryside and the quality of
life of the local population. Since 1983, the Generalitat de Catalunya (Catalan
Government) has attempted to address the problem of landscape degradation caused by
these activities and has required restoration of the areas affected either on expiry of the
concession or progressively during the life of the site. A bond payment of 400,000 pesetas
or 25% of the total restoration cost was set in an attempt to ensure compliance with the
law. Although no provisions were included to refuse a concession because of negative
environmental impact, the legislation nevertheless represented a giant leap forward when
one considers that these activities formerly took place with complete disregard for the

Unfortunately there are several highly unsatisfactory aspects of land restoration for which
a solution has yet to be found. One of these is that the restoration is based on an
exploitation plan which rarely coincides with that the company follows. On the other hand,
restoration is often supervised by technical staff who know little about the environment,
lack judgement regarding quality, and are often only interested in prettying up the site. The
most frequently encountered defects in quarry restoration work are an unsuitable
geomorphological result; erosion caused by steep taluses; and poor soil management.
As far as restoration plans for mining concessions are concerned, these fall into two
groups, thought of as first or second generation, depending on their level of knowledge of
restoration methods worked out by environmental impact study groups. Land restoration
schemes predating impact studies are badly prepared and hardly mention the impact on the
environment. The schemes almost invariably proposed the building of regular, evenly
spaced terraces with 45 degree slopes. Restoration plans for these new surfaces proposed
little more than planting screens of tall vegetation on the flat areas (normally various types
of pines but occasionally garden species). Most plans ignored slopes completely, though
the more elaborate studies suggested general planting schemes. In most cases, a visit to
the area raises serious doubts about the quality of the restoration work carried out
according to these plans, which is often ineffective even form the cosmetic point of view.
Even where seeding was carried out, it was rarely successful on too steep taluses
constructed from infertile soils, so that it was possible to see areas of erosion and soil loss
above and through the inadequate screening of the vegetation which had managed to take
root. In addition, the regular terracing of the land did not help to fit the newly restored
areas into the landscape. Soil treatment, essential to ensure good recolonisation by
vegetation was either entirely missing or badly done.
More recent land restoration plans tend to reflect shortcomings of the impact studies
themselves. One of the advantages of this approach that a more detailed description of the
environmental elements affected and the foreseeable impacts is provided. However, while
the description of the environment is extremely useful in planning subsequent land
restoration, the identification and evaluation of environmental impacts is superfluous since
only the restoration plan is binding. The technical quality of these plans has shown notable
improvement over the last few years, with recommendations for taluses of below 25 or 35
degrees. Drainage is now taken into account when deciding the size and design of terraces.
Soil treatment has also made great strides as have replanting plans. However, there still
remain much to be done. It should be possible to expect a little creativity so that the
restored site fits in well with its surroundings and a little more realism in drawing up lists
of native plants would also be appreciated as not all of them are commercially available.

Various working factors can adversely affect the outcome of land restoration, regardless of
the quality of the project on paper. One major factor is the lack of coordination between
the plans for exploitation for the subsequent restoration, with the two being treated as
separate subjects when drawing up studies. The truth is that mining activities are
“planned” to respond to what turns up and may have very little to do with what is written
down in the exploitation plan. Therefore the final area of the mine may have little
connection with that envisaged in the restoration plan. For this reason, the restoration is
often largely improvised which can be dangerous, considering the large volumes of
material that must be moved. One hardly need say that the unpredictability of detritus, etc.
is inherent to the heterogeneous nature of the environment. Drawing up immutable
restoration plans before the activity begins rather than constantly updating them during the
life of the quarry or mine clearly makes little sense. Greedy and opportunistic quarry
owners are quick to turn this situation to their advantage. For example, recently built talus
slopes tend to quickly become unstable, contrary to all expectation and for some reason
this occurs towards the edge of the concession area. This problem is then used to justify a
new restoration plan which invariably suggests that extending the concession perimeter
would allow the slope of refuse heaps to be reduced or ensure the stability of the
underlying terrain. Many such cases of restoration plan improvement are covers for a
request to increase the size of the concession.

The absence of environmental specialists in mining companies is provavle fact, so
restoration plans are usually drawn up and carried out with a narrow engineering vision of
the problem, focusing on creating a stable geomorphology and forgetting about subsequent
treatment of the surface created. The lack of environmental training is all too apparent
when certain sectors of the mining engineering profession continue to consider restoration
as a break from “real work” with no real skills needed. Thus in many cases the data on
restoration only exist as a vague memory in the mind of the person responsible, while
vegetation survival and growth rates are impossible to calculate if there is no reliable data
on what, when, where and how vegetation was planted. Because there is no reliable data
base on quarries which have already been restored it is impossible to say which forms of
treatment hane been most suitable. One should also note that the area being restored may
suffer from constant changes as interested parties take advantage of the space to dump
every conceivable kind of waste ranging from inert materials to sewage sludge.

The lack of rational criteria on which to judge restoration work makes it very difficult for
public specialists to make an objective decision on whether to return the bond amounts to
the quarry owners. Since there are no minimum soil fertility requirements, vegetation
growth rates, cover specifications or even acceptable erosion rates, any decision taken is
necessarily subjective. Lack of diagnostic tools apart, the Environmental Protection
Service has too few inspectors to cover even the active mines, let alone ensure effective
quality control of land restoration work.
3.4 Soils: their use and pollution
Soils are the base of productivity of both natural and man-made systems. They play a key
role in the nutrient cycles determining the agricultural and forest production. From the
local and more strictly human point of view, soils physically support human activities and
are often thought of merely as a as mediums or commodities, or, even worse, as a dump
for waste.

Soil types
The FAO clasification of 1974 showed that the region studied contains 7 of the 26 soil
groups described in the “Soil Map of the European Communities”. The list is in order of
increasing development, with their international identification number and the percentage
of the area covered:

Lithosols: IK, 18%. These are thin soils with underlying hard rock within 10cm of the
   surface. They are found in the Garraf and the North of Baix Llobregat, Vallès
   Occidental and Vallès Oriental. They develop on calcareous rocks (limestones, slates,
   and conglomerates), and occasionally also on silicate rocks. They are associated with
   Rendzines, Cambisols, Luvisols and Regosols.
. Regosols: R, 1%. These develop from unconsolidated materials (other than recent
   alluvial deposits). They are found in the North of Baix Llobregat, Vallès Occidental,
   and Vallès Oriental and are associated with Lithosols and euteric+ or calcareous
. Fluvisols: J, 16% These develop from recent alluvial deposits. They are found around
   river courses and torrents in the centre of the pre-coastal and coastal depressions
   (Vallès Occidental, Vallès Oriental, and Maresme). The mainly develop from
   calcareous materials and are associated with Regosòls and Luvisòls.
. Rankers: U, 10%. These are soils with an A horizon (rich in organic materials, dark,
   and with less than 50% of basic material) and are not more than 25 cm thick. They are
   not further sub-divided. They are to be found in Montseny on silicate rocks and are
   associated with Lithosols and striated Cambisols.
. Rendsines: E, 1%. These are soils with a thick, dark horizon, are over 50% saturated
   with bases and strongly structured, do not exceed 50 cm deep and either contain or
   overlie calcareous material with a calcium carbonate content of over 50%. They are not
   further sub-divided. They are found in Baix Llobregat on calcareous material and are
   associated with Luvisols, Cambisols and Litosols.
. Cambisols: B, 52%. These are soils where the original material has undergone
   moderate change and secondary materials, except for carbonates, are absent. They are
   the most common soils in the area and are to be found in Maresme, North and North
   West Barcelonès, Baix Llobregat, and the whole of the pre-coastal depression.
. Luvisols: L, 2%. These soils contain a clay horizon and are associated with calcareous
   Cambisols and Rendzines. They are to be found in Maresme, North Barcelonès and
   Baix Llobregat on calcareous rock associated with conglomerates, and sandstones.

Soil vulnerability and degradation
The vulnerability of soils to pollution should be seen from two points of view. First, in situ
pollution not only limits the use of the polluted soil, but also involves transporting
pollutants to other media (particularly water) and living creatures. In addition to this
“current” pollution one should also take into account the “potential” role soil degradation
can play in releasing pollutants accumulated in soils as a result of past activities.

Most of the pollution of farming soils in the Barcelona Region stems from bad farming
methods, particularly the excessive use of mineral fertilisers (161 kg/ha. per year of N, P
and K), pesticides (9.5 kg/ha. a year) and manure which (assuming 100% spreading),
ranges between 10kg/ha a year in Baix Llobregat and Garraf to 1,000 to 1,500 kg/ha. of
N,P, and K in Barcelonès). Wrongly applied pesticides have a deleterious effect on soils
and water quality and are passed up the food chain. Artificial fertilisers are particularly
intensively used in irrigated and soft fruit crops in Maresme and Baix Llobregat. Over-
fertilisation and the use of the wrong chemicals at the wrong time can give rise to in situ
acidification and the deposit of heavy metals and even increase salinity in dry areas. When
fertilisers are leached into water courses they increase the risk of eutrophication while the
ingestion of nitrates represent a health hazard. Livestock farmers‟ bad manuring practices
produces similar risks to those deriving from the wrong use of fertilisers, but also carries
additional risks in the form of soluble salts, soil acidification, the spread of pathogens, and
pollution by organic compounds such as hormones and antibiotics.
Livestock farming and agriculture traditionally went hand in hand, with manure used as a
fertiliser on the same farm. The fact that the two activities are effectively increasingly
divorced from each another means that livestock farmers have to get rid of their animal
muck. Because transport costs have a large effect on the final cost of the product, farmers
tend to spread the muck close to where it is generated. Unfortunately the imbalance
between local agricultural land and the volume of animal muck produced in the vicinity
means that counties in the Barcelona Region are simply unable to absorb the volume of
waste produced. Barcelonès county can only cope with 4% of the muck produced, Baix
Llobregat and Maresme 61%, and other counties between 30% and 50%.

Table 25
Production and composition of sewage sludge in the Barcelona Region

     County         Inhabitants      Sewage                 NPK, kg./ha.-1year-1 (3)
                        (1)          sludge.
                                   tons/yr.-1 (2)
                                                       N              P205             K2O
Alt Penedès            69,863          2.99             -               -               -
Baix Llobregat        610,192          20.0            84              77               4
Barcelonès           2,302,147         75.0          10,109          9,249             430
Garraf                 76,915          2.5             41              38               2
Maresme               293,103          9.6             62              57               3
Vallès                649,699          21.3           137             124               6
Vallès Oriental           262,513              8.6              27                25                  1
Total Area               4,264,432                               -                 -                  -
Total/area                   -                  -               148               135                 6
Agriculture in the counties of Catalonia. 1993
Based on the population census, and on the assumption of 90 g/inhabitant/day.
Estimated theoretical supply of nutrients assuming all sludge applied to agricultural land and that the average
    N content is 4.7%, P 4.3%, and K 0.2%.
Agricultural soils are often spread with other waste faecal products, this time of urban origin: sewage farm
sludge and compost. Making a comparison between the amount of sewage sludge produced and agricultural
land‟s fertiliser requirement one can say that that (as with muck), the Barcelona Region is unable to absorb it
all. The imbalance between supply and demand i particularly striking in the case of Barcelonès where the
potential Nitrogen and Potassium content of sewage sludge would be impossible to absorb even if it were
spread over the entire county.

Apart from agriculture, industry is responsible for soil pollution where particular areas are
used for dumping industrial waste, or by the abandonment of areas where industries were
sited, or through air pollution. There are 3,986 industries in the province of Barcelona
alone which are potential sources of pollution. Of the 422 points which have been listed,
30 are suspected of having polluted soils. To this figure one should add over 600 sites
which have been used for dumping industrial and urban wastes.

Surface water is seriously affected since 50% of the pollution sources are less than 50 m
from water courses. These sources are considered responsible for the pollution of rivers in
Maresme: the Besòs and the Llobregat deltas and alluvial plains; the Tordera alluvial
plain; and river beds throughout the river network. Aquifers are also affected as 60% of
pollution sources are in areas of medium to high permeability.

Industrial sites deposit pollutants on the ground they occupy and by leaks from tanks and
underground pipes. The pollution comes to light when industrial areas are dismantled and
given over to other uses, La Llagosta (now the Olympic Village) and the coastal strip of
Sant Adrià and Besòs-Montgat provide examples of this problem.

Assessment of soil pollution
The wide range of activities which can contribute to soil pollution explains the variety of
contaminants found. This section only refers to chemical pollutants which are classified in
the seven internationally accepted groups given below:

I        Metals
II       Inorganic compounds
III      Aromatic compounds
IV       Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH)
V        Chlorinated hydrocarbons
VI       Pesticides
VII      Other pollutants

It is extremely probable that soils in the Barcelona Region are polluted with substances
belonging to the above groups. Unfortunately, however, there is no quantitative
information on pollutants other than metals. It is necessary to have quality and evaluation
standards which indicate health and ecological risks and possible transfer to other
environmental compartments. These standards, only recently introduced in some
countries, are based on the following parameters:

First, one needs to establish the natural composition of the soils and their spatial
   distribution (background or zero pollution level).
() Next, on the basis of the background level, quality standards are set at levels below which
    there is no danger and above which the soil is affected (reference level).
() Lastly, values are set to determine the level of acceptable risk. The method of arriving at
    this value varies in different countries. For example, until 1994 the Netherlands (and
    currently the Basque Country in its CAPV proposal) considered two values: a lower one
    „B‟ or acceptable quality, and „C‟ a maximum over which action must be taken since there
    are health and/or environmental risks.
Many industrialised countries have established background levels and then set standard levels
for their soils. While no data is available for Spain, Catalonia has recently drawn up proposals
for standard values. Industrial land in Catalonia has a lower level of As and Co but higher
levels of Hg, Cu, and Cd than both the Basque Country (which has drawn up proposals for
soil protection) and the Netherlands (one of the leading European countries in the field which
already has specific soil protection legislation).

Before one can establish standard values to define the limit of acceptable risk at which action
must be taken, one must first conduct an analysis of risks (evaluation of exposure and
toxicity). The CAPV mentioned above has adopted the „B‟ and „C‟ values previously used by
the Dutch for organic pollutants without first having carried out a risk analysis for each
pollutant. In Holland the levels at which action must be taken were set after analysis of the
risk from each separate contaminant. Sometimes the acceptability of the risk is established
without taking account the use of the land (multi-functional). Yet other risk analyses take into
account different values depending on the use intended for each site. Thus the CAPV has
proposed different values for inorganic pollutants according to ground use (playgrounds,
residential/parks, industry, ecosystem protection and farming); while the Netherlands
employs values which are applicable to any use. The absence of quality standards to
determine heavy metal pollution of land in Spain has meant that the value adopted has been
the upper limit used for sewage sludge spread on agricultural land (RD 1310/1990 of the 29th
of October)! This is precisely the same value adopted by the CAPV as the acceptable level of
heavy metal pollution for agricultural land. Evidently this approach is a limited preventative
one rather than anything approaching a definition of acceptable risk.

Surface and ground water
4.1 The water supply network: characteristics and socio-
     environmental problems
The Barcelona Region, with over 4 million inhabitants, consumes great quantities of water.
Management of this natural resource, which is both scarce and hard to regulate in the
Mediterranean Basin, gives rise to complex environmental problems. On the one hand,
surface and ground water sources are over-exploited. On the other, catchment areas and the
coast receive waste water with a greater or lesser degree of pollution meaning that some of
the Metropolitan rivers still seem to be open sewers.

The region includes practically the whole of the Foix and Besòs river basins, as well as the
Maresme torrents, the entire Garraf drainage system, and part of the Llobregat and Tordera
river basins. Since these catchment areas are insufficient to satisfy the area‟s water
demands, water sources outside the region, such as the lower part of the Ter basin and the
whole of the Llobregat basin, are also used.

Available resources and their use
The water resources currently tapped in the Barcelona Region are basically surface and
ground water ones. Because of demand peaks, existing resources (ground water and the
river Llobregat) have proved insufficient, making it necessary to use water from the Ter. So
far the use of unconventional sources such as rainwater and sewage has gone no further
than the planning stage. The idea of using such sources is not new :- In 1959 there was a
proposal to use sewage water from Barcelona for the watering of crops in Maresme county
and in 1975 a document entitled “Sewage Treatment Plan and the Re-use of Barcelona
Waste Water” mentioned many of the possibilities currently under consideration.

The Ter-Llobregat river systems provide the conventional surface water currently supplying
the city. Part comes from the river Llobregat, which flows through the area, and part from
water piped in from the river Ter. There are also other surface sources, especially in the
Tordera basin. Water from the river Ter is controlled by the Sau-Susqueda-el Pasteral dam
system and treated in the Sant Joan Despí purification plant. The river Llobregat is
controlled by the Baells and Sant Ponç dams and treated in the Sant Joan Despí and Abrera
plants. The two networks are now interconnected by a pipeline between the Abrera and
Sant Joan Despí purification plants, which has led to improvement in distribution and
water quality. Two points are worth noting in connection with ground water: (1) many
sources have been over-exploited and (2) several sources have been used to supplement
surface water. The latter is true of the aquifer near the Sant Joan Despí potabilising plant
which pumps up water from wells. Finally, many smaller villages could satisfy reasonable
levels of local demand from aquifers in the same municipality.
In terms of volume, the Besòs and Llobregat aquifers are heavily used, as are some smaller
ones throughout the region. It should be noted that the cutback on the use of water from
aquifers in the Barcelona plain and conurbation has led to an increase in the water table,
sub-surface flooding, and continuous pumping operations in the underground railway. The
excess water is pumped into the sewage system, creating new problems. A solution to this
problem needs to be found since the excess water finally ends up in sewage plants and thus
represents an unnecessary additional cost. Suggestions for dealing with the problem
include channelling this water into the Besòs and Llobregat rivers, using it for watering city
parks and green spaces, washing down streets, etc. As far as conventional water sources are
concerned, these are located in a “central area” comprising the Besòs-Maresme, Noia,
Llobregat, and Garraf-Foix rivers systems.

Water use influences planning of sewerage systems. In principle there are various water
uses which produce little or no waste water (e.g. losses due to evaporation, particularly in
irrigating land or heat transfer), however this forms a relatively small percentage of the
total. In contrast, all homes and some industries produce waste water. Such water needs to
be treated either for subsequent use or prior to its return to the environment. This, of
course, adds to the cost. Also, water ends up at a point away from its origin and possibly
with quality changes.

In Spain as a whole, agriculture use accounts for about 70-80% of water demand, while the
other 20-30% is taken up by urban and industrial use. However, the importance of the
industrial and domestic sectors makes water demand in the area very different from this
pattern. The 1993 Hydrology Plan for the Catalan River Basins gave the domestic use
percentage as 66% of total demand, industry and business as 26%, and municipal services
as 8%. The total amount used in 1993 came to 282,628 thousand cubic metres.

Urban sprawl and changes in land use from agriculture to industrial or domestic purposes
have reduced demand from the farming sector. The impact of the EU‟s common
agricultural policy should also be noted in this respect. Farmers were rewarded for giving
up particular crops and direct or indirect livestock use of the land. This favoured the sale of
land for first and second homes and industrial estates, even where regional planning did not
pressure or in some cases force farmers to abandon their traditional activities. It is difficult
to quantify the effect of this process on water demand but it seems likely to be a significant
trend in the future. The drop in agricultural activity is likely to reduce specific types of
pollution (nitrates, for example) while increasing others (such as industrial substances).
Some of the traditional farming (and most productive) areas, particularly the Maresme and
Llobregat delta, are currently going through this change of land use. Plans for subsidising
the agriculture in some of these areas are now being drawn up since this might help ensure
a reasonable ecological balance.

New water uses are also emerging, particularly those associated with leisure activities and
higher living standards. A perfect example of this are leisure areas (particularly the
proliferation of golf courses which use vast quantities of water to maintain the greens in a
Mediterranean climate). However, it should be remembered that such areas limit erosion
and provide a way of disposing of waste water and sludge with minimum impact on the

Table 26
Hydrological resources in the Barcelona Region
     River      Gross        Surface water         Ground water                   Totals
    system resources
                         Effective Water       Effective Water             hm3/yr.    Regulated
                           stored    supplied    stored   supplied                       %
                          volume                volume
  Besòs-        190          0         10        210            63           73        33
  Alt           570         119       303          0            0            303       53
  Anoia          73          0         22          5            10           32        41
  Baix           94          0         10        116            58           68        54
  Garraf-        41          6          1         30            5             6        15
  Alt Ter       516          0        160          5             5        165           -
  Baix Ter      440        410        377        175            62        439          63
  Tordera       205          0          6         60            34         40          20
  Totals       2,129       535        889        601           237       1,126          -
Source: Hydrology Plan for the Catalan River Basins, 1989

Table 27
Urban, industrial, and agricultural water use (hm3/yr.) by sub-areas.
        Sub-area              Urban           Industrial      Agricultural         Total
  Baix Maresme                 19.5               5.4             7.1               32.0
  Besòs                        86.5              39.6            17.9              144.0
  Anoia                         9.5              10.4             3.6               23.5
  Baix Llobregat I             29.5              24.5             3.2               57.2
  Baix Llobregat II           264.6              31.9            44.5              391.0
  Garraf                        7.7               2.3             1.1               11.1
  Foix                          5.2               2.2             0.4                7.3
  Tordera                       7.6               9.6            14.5               31.7
         Totals               430.1             125.9            92.3              697.8
Source: Miquel Salgot
Table 28
Water uses in the Barcelona Metropolitan Region
            Use              1988      1992      1993   1994       1995                1996
         Barcelona         109,762 105,650 102,562 97,730        97,730                99,113
         Rest EMA           86,910    85,728    85,171 84,837    81,861                79,741
         Total EMA         196,672 191,378 187,733 182,567 182,297                    178,854
         Barcelona          61,511    53,954    47,557 44,373    44,290               43,563
         Rest EMA           30,797    29,615    26,696 25,974    23,819               23,078
         Total EMA          99,308    83,569    74,253 70,347    68,109               66,641
  Municipal Services
         Barcelona          16,732    14,597    14,867 13,278    13,455               11,612
         Rest EMA            5,159     6,147     6,705  6,270     7,423                6,250
         Total EMA          21,891    20,744    21,575 19,548    20,878               18,132
         Barcelona         188,005 174,201 164,986 155,381 158,181                    154,288
         Rest EMA          122,866 121,490 118,572 117,081 113,103                    109,313
         Total EMA         310,817 295,691 283,558 272,462 271,284                    263,601
  Litres/person/day           276       267       256    246        245                 238
Source: Barcelona Metropolitan Region (EMA = Environmental Agency)

The Tordera basin
The Tordera is a typical Mediterranean river, running dry in the summer and in full spate in
Spring and Autumn, although torrential flow is possible at any time of the year. Under
natural conditions the fact that it runs over silicates makes it low in sulphates, with calcium
bicarbonate as the main mineral salt. Water quality is high in the upper stretch along the
Montseny Nature Park boundary. Water is channelled off at Viladecans and, in some
summers, the river dries out before it reaches Santa Maria de Palautordera. Water quality in
this stretch is high in Spring but tends to deteriorate in the Summer as the low flow volume
is then insufficient to dilute effluent from the sewage farms at Santa Maria de Palautordera
and, particularly, Sant Celoni.

Pre-coastal and coastal basins
A second type of Mediterranean river has its headwaters in pre-coastal or coastal mountain
ranges. These run over permeable, mainly calcareous beds, with torrential upper sections
during heavy rains, while the middle and lower sections tend to dry out quickly. They
contain high concentrations of mineral salts, mainly calcium bicarbonate and sulphates.
These rivers tend to naturally regulate the aquifers which supply local villages. Over-
exploitation of these sources often causes the river to partially or completely disappear.

The Foix belongs to this group, with large amounts of water being drawn from the aquifer.
The river seeps into the ground in its middle section where it sometimes disappears. So, in
dry periods the river only flows in its top and bottom sections and the water in the final
section is the outflow from the Vilafranca sewage farm. Most of the residual waters in the
Foix basin end up at this treatment plant and only Pontons and Torrelles de Foix spill
untreated sewage into the Pontons stream whose water is polluted downstream although in
some cases, the river does manage some self-purification before receiving new loads of
contaminants. The river is biologically dead before it reaches Vilafranca and the sewage
farm can do little to improve the situation by diluting the effluent. The main problem with
the Foix is that ground water is drawn at various points in the basin and returned to the
water course at Vilafranca so that the river is dry for much of its course.

The river Anoia suffers from the same problems as the Foix (i.e. over-exploitation and little
water running in the river bed) so that it runs dry at Igualada during dry periods. The river
springs anew after the sewage farm whose effluent directly regulates the flow. Despite
treatment at the sewage farm, the low dilution of effluent means appreciably lower water
quality in this stretch of the river.

The lower Llobregat basin
The lower part of the Llobregat belongs to a third type of Mediterranean river but is
influenced by its Pyreneen origins. The river‟s natural flow is wholly masked by the dams
at Sant Ponç, Baells, and more recently, Llosa del Cavall. The river is subject to fixed
minimum flows and the small surges that used to occur have now disappeared. In addition
to the aforementioned dams, a host of mini-hydroelectric power stations which vastly
reduce flow in the short-circuited river sections due to excessive water take off for power
generation. An example is the Canal de Sedó which captures all of the river water during
low flow periods, or Castellbell where the diversion channel can draw considerably more
water than the average river flow volume during the period 1989-90.

The dams above Sant Joan Despí guarantee a flow which dilutes pollutants to some extent.
However, the Llobregat receives the total output of the saline collector immediately below
the town. This takes water from: the potassium rich Súria-Cardona basin; the Solvay
chemical company at Martorell; a diversion channel from the Rubí torrent; the Canal de la
Infanta; and another channel which carries treated water from the Sant Feliu de Llobregat
sewage farm. The outfalls are downstream from the Sant Joan Despí purification plant
because the high salinity and content of contaminants would make provision of potable
water almost impossible. The Rubí torrent carries highly contaminated water from the two
sewage farms sited in the basin. Even if these two sewage plants were to switch from
physical-chemical to biological treatment systems the river would remain polluted because
of its low flow. The treated waters from the Sant Feliu sewage plant are channelled into the
Llobregat downstream of the potabilising plant and once again are still polluted even after
treatment (they spend just 4 hours in the biological reactor and carry a high level of
ammonia). Only a few torrents, such as the Rafamans, exhibit variable water quality
making them worth special protection.

The Besòs basin
The river Besòs provides a perfect example of an over-exploited basin. In dry years the
water in its tributaries, including the Congost, runs through sewer pipes instead of over
stream beds. One of the Beso‟s tributaries, the Ripoll, and the Besòs itself at Santa Coloma,
contain a fairly high average volume of water from outfalls and sewage farms. The river
disgorges more water into the sea than flows into it from its basin, since 44% of its volume
is made up from water piped in from the River Ter.

The water quality is generally good near the headwaters but problems begin in the river‟s
middle course. The sewage farms at Santa Eulàlia de Ronçana and Sant Feliu de Codines
have helped improve water quality in the final stretch of the river. Unfortunately the same
cannot be said for the Riera de Caldes which is biologically dead before it reaches the
Caldes de Montbuí sewage plant. The Ripoll turns into a sewer when it receives raw,
untreated sewage from the town of Sabadell. In the Summer the river Congost can be said
to spring from the outfall of the Centelles physicochemical treatment plant. Further
downstream at La Garriga the river has eliminated some of the pollutants, partly due to
inflows of fresh water from Montseny. However the water quality drops considerably after
the sewage outfall from the Garriga physicochemical sewage farm. Once again there is
some slight natural elimination of pollutants until it reaches the Granollers
physicochemical sewage plant (currently being converted into a biological treatment plant).
From this point on the river receives ever more sewage effluents: from the river Mogent
(extremely polluted due to lack of sewage treatment); effluents from the physicochemical
treatment plants at Martorelles and la Langosta which add further ammonia and organic
material, ruling out any chance of biological recovery.
Table 29
Average hydrological characteristics and in dry years of river basin sampling points in the Barcelona Region

       Basin      Altitude Surfac Years          Average         Average        Minimum       Days in dry      Treated flow Days where    Days where
                           e area studied      annual flow     annual flow     flow in dry      years >        in the basin flow <25% of flow <10% of
                                                 m3/sec.       in dry years   years m3/sec      average                        average      average
                                                                 m3/sec.                      annual flow
  S.Celoni          130       125       66       0.85.65           0.21           0.02             21             005           258          107
  Can Coll           35       802       20                         1.64            0               13             0.24          258           88
  Avencó            418        36       57         0.24            0.07              0             20                0          250          173
  Congost           235       158       66         0.64            0.29            0.05            21              0.04         165           77
  Mogent             76        76       22         0.58            0.75              0            140             0.015          75           17
  Tenes              75       152       21         0.52            0.23           0.008            32               0.1         194          100
  Caldes             56       110       24         0.26            0.22            0.07            18             0.048         301            0
  Ripoll             30       242       20         1.19            0.97            0.40            57              0.85           0            0
  Besòs               4      1036       22         3.88            3.11             1.8            20              2.90           0            0
  Mediona           375        65       42         0.19            0.13            0.1              0             0.003
  Anoia             121       726       29         2.29            1.02           0.22              6              0.27         139           18
  Rubí               35       122       18          1.1             1.1           0.05            121              0.63           0            0
  Castellbell       155      3,293      72         17.6             9.5            5.2             22              0.52           0            0
  Martorell          44      4,561      68         20.7            7.59           1.69              9              1.05          48            5
  Canal Sedò                                                       5.63           1.68                                           40
  Sant Joan          11      4,480      20        15.45            6.23           2.45             15             2.64           56           0
  Barcelona                                                        3.99            0.4                                          153
   Castellet         148       279        61       0.28           0.16           0.04            12             0.12            112              0
Source: Data from the Hydrological Survey Annual Report, published by the Catalan Water Board
The columns indicate the number of days in dry years with flow exceeding the year on year average and the number of days in dry years when the flow
was 25% and 10% less than the year on year average. For the Canal Sedó and supply of Barcelona the number of days are indicated when the whole of
the river‟s flow was captured. Dry years were generally 1989-90 except at Can Coll (80-81); Mogent i Tenes (85-86); Caldes (88-89) and Ripoll (84-85)
(there are no 1989-90 data for these stations).
Water quality
The physicochemical and biological composition of the water at its point of capture
determines its use and is a basic factor in deciding the subsequent treatment it must receive to
ensure it meets the relevant quality standards at its point of use.

Regulations in force
Regulations cover the quality of water for the following uses: human consumption, potable
water, fish life, and bathing. In contrast, there are no regulations to cover industrial uses and
irrigation although some quality criteria exist.

With regard to the quality of water entering purification plants, a Ministerial Decree of 11
May 1988, as amended by a Ministerial Decree of 15 October 1990 established the basic
criteria for surface water used for this purpose, in accordance with EEC norm 75/440/CEE.
Water was classified in three groups according to the treatment required to make it potable
(A1, A2, and A3 in increasing order of treatment complexity). Forty six parameters are
considered, including pH, colour, solids in suspension, biodegradable organic matter (DBO),
ammonia, micro-organisms, and heavy metals.

Water for fish life is covered by Appendix 3 to the Official Water and Hydrological Planning
Regulations (RD 927/1988 of 28 July) which sets the minimum conditions required in inland
waters to ensure the protection or improvement of fish life, taking in the provisions of EEC
Directive 78/659/CEE. Fourteen parameters are employed, including temperature, dissolved
oxygen, ammonia, zinc, copper, etc. Surface waters for fish farms are classified in two
groups: „C‟ (suitable for ciprinids or other species such as river hake, perch, and eel), and „D‟
(suitable for species such as salmon and trout). The further classification, „S‟, sets much
higher quality requirements, with a lower temperature and a higher dissolved oxygen content.

Water standards for recreational use are established by Royal Decree RD 734/1988 which
determines water quality for bathing purposes and incorporates the EEC Directive
761/160/CEE. This considers various parameters such as total and faecal origin coliform
bacteria, pH and dissolved oxygen content.

Quality indices
There is a wide range of water quality indices to choose from, the final choice depending
partly on suitability to task and partly on the resources available. Each index has advantages
and drawbacks. Use of a physicochemical or biological index to evaluate water quality
provides a wider, more general view, of the basin than an isolated physicochemical parameter
or the presence of a particular chemical. Indices are normally obtained applying a formula
which includes the analytic parameters considered most appropriate by each expert. Water
quality indices have been applied in a wide range of situations (surface waters, coastal waters,
waste water, drinking water, etc.), and are usually employed in the following circumstances:

When the large volume of analytical results available would make a detailed presentation
   difficult and onerous to interpret.
In inter-disciplinary teams where not all the experts are skilled in interpreting analytical
When the results are intended for a lay audience (for example, schools, or residents of a
   particular area or workers in a specific sector).
The Water Commission, working through the Official Network for Water Quality Control
(RECOCA) began a statistical analysis of rivers in the Iberian Peninsula in 1973. Since then,
monthly water samples have been taken at a set of representative points. The number of
sampling points was later increased and modified to include more parameters. There is
therefore a large volume of data, but one should remember that it is essential to know the
circumstances under which samples are taken and analysed prior to embarking on a study of
water quality. The sheer volume of data made it necessary to produce a water quality index.
Catalonia has employed the Simplified Water Quality Index (ISQA) since 1982. Biologists
have shown increasing interest in participating in water studies and applying biological
techniques over the last few years. This interest has been officially and systematically
articulated since 1993 in the BMWP (Biological Monitoring Working Party, studying macro-
invertebrates in the Iberian Peninsula).

The ISQA physicochemical index uses just 5 parameters this makes it easy and cheap to take
samples, but it suffers from the drawback inherent in any process of synthesis - i.e. the loss of
original analytical data. The ISQA parameters are: temperature, oxidisability, material in
suspension, dissolved oxygen, and conductivity. Each parameter attempts to capture a
different aspect of water quality. The five parameters are weighted and applied to the data to
produce the overall index by means of the following graphs and equations: ISQA =
T(A+B+C+D) where T is the temperature of the river (expressed in C, ranked between 0 and
0.8), A is the oxidisable material or DQO (i.e. the amount of oxygen taken up by oxidising
with KMnO4 in boiling acid (expressed in mg/l, ranked between 0-30), B is the material in
suspension or MES (expressed in mg/l, ranked between 0-25); C is the amount of dissolved
oxygen or OD (expressed in mg/l, ranked between 0-25; and D is electrical conductivity
(expressed in S/cm, ranked between 0-20).

Bio-indicators can be used to reveal conditions which would otherwise be difficult to measure
directly or interpret. Among the biological methods for determining water quality through
biotic indices, the most used ones are those which are based on benthal macro-invertebrates
(i.e. animals whose larvae attain a length of 3 mm or more and live on any type of river bed
(stone, gravel, sand, plants, etc.). These mainly include insect larvae, molluscs, crustaceans,
and oligochaeta. The BMWP is a suitable index to use in the Iberian Peninsula and was
officially used for the first time in Catalonia in 1988. This micro-invertebrate index assigns a
value for each family type, according to its tolerance to pollution. The values for each family
are then added up to provide the total index value which ranges between 0 and 100.

Table 30
Values measuring biological quality

                                                BILL                            BMWP
  Clean water                                   8-10                             >100
  Water with signs of pollution                  6-7                            61-100
  Polluted water                                 4-5                             36-60
  Heavily polluted water                         2-3                             16-35
  Very heavily polluted water                    0-1                              <15
Source: Benito de Santos, 1996
BILL= Biological index, produced by Narcís Prat

The results carried out by various authors show that biological indices are better indicators of
high overall pollution than physicochemical ones, whereas both show similar reliability for
low pollution levels. With regard to intermediate levels of pollution, the BILL method allows
changes in water quality to be evaluated over longer periods of time than the ISQA snapshot

The ecological quality of water is a concept established by EU proposal 94/c222/06. The
proposal defines Ecological Water Quality as a global expression of the structure and
function of a biological community, bearing in mind natural physical, geographic, and
climatic factors and physical and chemical conditions, including those arising from man’s
activity. The aesthetic features of the area must also be borne in mind. The adoption of this
regulation implies cancellation of EU Directives 78/659/CEE and 79/923/CEE. The trend in
Europe is towards the adoption of biological indices. Some countries, such as France, do not
use physicochemical indices, but rather produce maps of water quality for each parameter. A
study on possible adoption of a single biological index for the whole of the EU has been
commissioned. However, a problem in adopting a single standard is that most Northern
European rivers run over silicate beds while those in the Iberian Peninsula mainly flow over
calcareous beds.
The setting up of an automatic water quality control network (XACQA or SAICA) for rivers
has provided a valuable new source of analytical data although the data obtained are
determined by the type of instruments used for analysis. The parameters measured by the
basic sampling stations in the XACQA network are pH, electrical conductivity, temperature,
water clarity, oxygen demand and TOC (total organic carbon). Ammonium and phosphate is
measured at enhanced stations, while more specific parameters are measured at special
sampling stations.

Quality levels
A general improvement in water quality at all the sampling points compared with 1974-75
(i.e. before the Sewage Treatment Plan was put into effect) has been observed employing the
ISQA method. The results for 1995-96 show a global improvement compared with 1994-95,
helped by larger flow volumes at the majority of sampling points. The only exception is the
river Congost at Montornès due to a rise in materials in suspension. The general values in
surface waters nay seem to have improved but one should remember that the ISQA produces
rather optimistic results. One of the worst defects of ISQA is the simple correlation of quality
and higher dissolved oxygen content. This overlooks the possibility that intense
photosynthesis caused by rapid vegetation growth may be responsible for higher oxygen
content under normal temperatures and pressures.

Table 31
ISQA values for rivers in the Barcelona Region (1974-75, 1994-95, 1995-96)

      River          Sampling point          ISQA         Current          Flow (m3/s)           ISQA
                                            1974-75      station Nº 94-95         95-96    94-95    95-96
   Ter           Roda de Ter                  56.9           19         4.72       22.35    80.5     78.2
                 Pasteral*                     85            60                             87.2     86.8
   Tordera       La Llavina                                  26                             97.4     97.8
                 Sant Celoni                  74.5           15         0.34        0.79    79.9     85.4
                 Downstream S. Celoni         35.7           83                             70.4     85.0
                 Fogars de Tordera            64.7           62         18.3        5.85    68.2     80.9
   Besòs         Caldes M (R.Caldes)                         86                              ***     85.7
                 Congost (Garriga)            43.5           37         0.23        1.32    81.3     64**
                 Congost (Montornès)                         89                              ***     34.5
                 Ripoll (Castellar)           40.9           75                             73.6     68.8
                 Mogent (Montornès)            49            35         1.19        0.35    74.6     70.3
                 Besòs (Montmeló)             14.4           69                             40.9     33.1
                 Besòs (Barcelona)              5            48         4.93        5.62    18.6     25.0
   Llobregat     Balsareny                    72.6           80
                 Castellbell                                 23                             74.4    72.0
                 Abrera*                      58.3           84         9.97       45.19    69.8    70.0
                 Martorell                    50.7            5                             64.3    63.2
                 Sant Joan Despí*             49.5           49        10.04       41.27    59.2    59.0
                 El Prat                                     46                             21.1    24.8
   Anoia         Sant Sadurní                 19.7            4
                 Martorell                    27.1           74         2.26        0.49    57.2    51.5
   Riera Rubí Papiol                           7.6           76         1.96        2.63    10.2    12.3
   Foix          Castellet                    20.6            8         0.17        0.35    64.5    66.1
 Source: Manuel Soler (some data from Queralt, 1982, and others calculated
*sample point ** MES point *** Station data 1995-96

If these figures are compared with the figures for nitrates, ammonia, and phosphates (Water
Treatment Directorate data) for 1994-95 and 1995-96 at the 21 river sample points in the
area, one sees a notable improvement over the last year, partly due to new sewage treatment
plants coming on stream and partly to the dilution of pollutants produced by bigger flow
volumes (due to heavy rains last year). In 1994-1995, all sample points along the rivers
Llobregat and Tordera except La Lavina exceeded phosphate limits, as did the Ter and
Pasteral and most of the stations along the Besòs (phosphate concentrations are lower in
the Besòs basin because there are many physicochemical sewage treatment plants in the
area). There was an improvement in 1995-96 at all sampling points, particularly Pasteral,
Abrera, and Sant Joan Despí (catchment points for water purification). The most polluted
points are Castellet (Foix), Sant Celoni (Tordera), and Castellar de Vallès (Ripoll) and the
final stretches of all the rivers. Climate has an important effect on water quality: higher
rainfall produces greater flow volumes and dilutes pollutants.
Of the 21 sample points studied during 1994-95 (Water Treatment Directorate data) only
two, Llavina (Tordera) and Pasteral (Ter), gave readings within the legal pollution limits.
There was a general improvement at the same sample points in 1995-96, with water
quality complying with the legislation at a further four points: Caldes (Riera de Caldes),
Santo Joan Despí, Abrera and Castellbell (Llobregat). Once again, the dilution factor
played a key role in this improvement.

The river most affected by salinity is the Llobregat and its tributary, the Cardener. The latter
runs through an area of potash mines at Cardona-Súria and Sallent-Balsareny which have
been in operation since the 1930s. However the saline wastewater collector has had a
considerable impact in reducing salinity levels. The torrential regime of the river means
flow volumes show very large variations, which in 1992 ranged between 5 and 360 m3/s.
The measurement parameter for salinity is electrical conductivity which measures the
number of ions dissolved in the water. Measurement of chloride ions is that most frequently
used for individual values.

Table 32
Flow volume and concentration of chloride ions at Sant Joan Despí, 1985-94

         Year         Average flow                       Chlorides (mg/l)
                         (m3/s)                    max              min                 average
  1985                     10.2               1495              163                    640
  1986                      6.1               1053              353                    751
  1987                     15.1               1121               92                    641
  1988                     20.1               1085              121                    568
  1989                      6.2               1624              128                    924
  1990                      7.9               1496               92                    570
  1991                     16.2               1855              114                    452
  1992                     30.7                553               43                    271
  1993                     13.3                801               85                    360
  1994*                      -                 807                -                    316
  1995*                    17.9                469              101                    245
  1996*              44.4 (5 months)           574                -                    303
Source: Martin Alonso, with additional data from the Water Treatment Directorate

The same pattern emerges in the case of sodium, potassium, magnesium, and bromine
irons, however calcium and sulphate ion levels did not drop after the sewage plants came
into service.

Eutrophication is caused by excessive availability of nutrients. It shows up as a brownish-
green tinge in the water, a drop in the dissolved oxygen level and the appearance of cyano-
bacteria. It occurs most often in shallow lakes and ponds with very slow moving or
stagnant water. In nature it occurs very gradually, but is accelerated by man‟s activities. The
relationship between Carbon-Nitrogen-Phosphorus (C:N:P) in living creatures is 100:15:1
whereas the ratio in aquatic environments is 1000:21:1. Thus the limiting nutrient is
phosphorus or, occasionally, nitrogen because of low availability levels in certain
environments. Naturally occurring nitrogen and phosphorus are available in very different
proportions in the environment. Nitrogen is present in the form of molecular nitrogen (4/5
of the atmosphere), nitrates, ammonia, etc. and the nitrogen cycle linking biosphere and
atmosphere is little affected by human activity. Phosphorus, on the other hand, is not
present as a gas and its mineral form - phosphate - is scarce, so that human action has a
decisive effect. Organic material and fertiliser components (particularly phosphorus and
nitrogen) enter rivers from agricultural areas as well as from urban and industrial effluents.

In an aerobic environment, the river contains dissolved oxygen and organic material and
ammonia salts are converted first into nitrites and then into nitrates, consuming oxygen in
the process. Nitrites in an anaerobic environment are converted into nitrogen gas (a process
carried out in sewage treatment plants during which nitrogen is eliminated). However, the
usual and most effective form of phosphate elimination is a physicochemical process
(precipitation with iron or aluminium salts). Depending on the treatment system adopted
there is a greater or lesser phosphate or nitrogen content in the effluent from sewage farms.
There is no regulation concerning desirable concentrations to prevent eutrophication. From
a scientific point of view, if the N:P ratio is greater than 10, phosphorus is the limiting
nutrient. If the ratio is less than 7, nitrogen is the limiting nutrient.

Organic substance found in surface water may be of natural or human origin. They may be
noxious per se, produce noxious products, or biodegrade without causing problems.
However, the sheer volume of waste discharged goes far beyond the rivers‟ ability to break
them down harmlessly. The parameters employed to measure organic compounds in water
are of various types:
Global: these measure organic material with a specific reactant or process. Among others,
   these include oxidisation with permanganate (DQO-perm) and organic biodegradable
   material (DBO).
Compound groups: these measure substances which contain a particular reactive group or a
   common characteristic of the group. Substances measured in this way include
   detergents, phenols, hydrocarbons, solvents, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH)
   and broad spectrum pesticides.
Specific: as the name indicates, this measures specific products. The following substances
  are relatively abundant, non biodegradable, and represent a long term threat to health:
  organic solvents used in industrial processes, chloroform (CHCl3), trichlorethane
  (TCE), tetrachlorethane (PCE) and trichlorobenzine.

Table 33

Pollution by groups of substances

          Basin             Sample point                     1995-96                1994-95
   Ter                Pasteral                              pesticides            HD, pesticides
   Tordera            Sant Celoni                     detergents & pesticides          HD
                      after Sant Celoni                     pesticides
                      Fogars de Tordera                                                HD
                      Malgrat de Mar
   Congost            La Garriga                            pesticides                ****
                      Montornès                       detergents & pesticides          ***
   Mogent             Montornès                             pesticides                ****
   Ripoll             Castellar Vallès*                                             detergents
   Besòs              Montmeló                        detergents & pesticides   HD, detergents****
                      Barcelona                       detergents & pesticides   HD, detergents****
   Anoia              Martorell                             pesticides          HD, detergents****
   Riera de Rubí      El Papiol                          HD**,detergents,        detergents****
   Llobregat          Castellbell                           pesticides
                      Abrera                          detergents & pesticides       pesticides
                      Martorell                             pesticides
                      Sant Joan Despí                       pesticides              pesticides
                      El Prat de Llobregat*                 detergents              detergents
   Foix               Castellet                             pesticides                 HD
Source: the Water Treatment Directorate
*        Substances not sampled: HD,PAH, pesticides
**       high
***      1995-96 season
****     Not sampled: PAH and pesticides

Microbiological parameters for pathogenic organisms (marker organisms) most commonly
measure total and faecal coliform bacteria. The Water Treatment Directorate determines
faecal streptococcus and salmonella but does not test for enterovirus as laid down in
European legislation on water for bathing purposes. Different water uses have their own
specific legislation, the most restrictive being that covering water for bathing purposes
followed by that for purification treatment (with guideline limits).

Flow volumes in surface waters
A complex problem affecting the rivers in the Barcelona Region, largely influenced by
sewage farms which discharge into them, is the necessity of maintaining a minimum flow
which allows plant and animal communities to survive, while simultaneously dealing with
man‟s need for water. Almost all of the rivers in area have virtually their total flow drawn
off at some point for irrigation, urban, or industrial needs. A few kilometres downstream
the water is returned to the water course with some addition of pollutants (levels depend on
the thoroughness of the purification process (if any) before the water is returned to the
river. The river section between the points where water is taken from the river and returned
to it is left dry. The water returned to the river is not biologically clean enough for plant and
animal communities to re-establish themselves. Heavily polluted rivers require an injection
of pure water to dilute effluents if they are to stand a chance of natural regeneration.
Calculating the amount of clean water required to achieve this (sometimes termed
“compensatory flow” or “ecological flow”) is difficult. The commonly used value of 10%
of the minimum flow in making this calculation not only fails to take into account seasonal
variations but lacks any biological foundation whatsoever.

Some studies carried out on the river Llobregat indicate that the minimum “ecological
flow” needed to maintain the bio-diversity of macro-invertebrate communities lies between
20 and 30% of the average inter-annual flow depending on the season. Even so, one of the
greatest errors in conventional estimates of “ecological flows” is that they are based on
long series of average values without taking into consideration what happens in dry years -
precisely when river conservation becomes critical. Study of river behaviour in dry seasons
permits one to generalise and identify four kinds of situation:

Those rivers whose headwaters are fed by aquifers. Here, maintenance of the minimum
  flow regime depends on sensible aquifer management. These include the Foix and the
  Mediona, Pontons, and Tenes torrents.
Areas around Montseny park where water use is low (Avencó, Cànoves, Vilamajor, Riera
  de la Castany, Alt Tordera). The river flow depends on the weather conditions during the

The middle and lower sections of Mediterranean rivers (Besòs, Anoia, Riera de Rubí,
  Foix). The flow regime is largely determined by the water returned by the sewage
  treatment plants. The further downstream and the bigger the network of sewage
  collectors are, the more sections of river are left dry. The strategy of building large
  treatment plants with kilometres of collectors (sewage collectors in the Besòs are as long
  as the river itself) runs counter to maintaining minimum flow levels.

The Llobregat is a special case and one should distinguish the sections above and below
  Martorell. The flow regime above Martorell depends on the water released by mini-
  hydroelectric schemes. According to available studies, the flow volume required to
  guarantee the biological quality of the river is 3 m3/s. Below Martorell the channelling
  of the river which is currently underway will make the river lose inflows (except from
  Sant Joan Despí). All of the existing flows need to be regulated and take advantage of
  the sewage treatment plant planned for Prat de Llobregat to ensure a minimum
  acceptable flow regime throughout the whole section.

There is a certain contradiction between the need to make the most of a scarce resource like
water and the need to return to the environment the minimum quantity necessary to ensure
that it functions adequately. One way out of this apparent dilemma is to consider the
possibilities of reusing treated water, particularly water from domestic sources.

Table 34
Flow rates, river Besòs basin

    Rivers      Station      Series     Q         Q          Q          Qc          Qci      Data
                                (years)          min.(m3/s max.     (m3/s)     (m3/s)    Qci
                                                     )     (m3/s)
   Ripoll    Montcada             21      1.19     0.03     8.11     42*        560     20.9.71
   Riera de La Florida            38      0.26    0(38)     3.55     47*        131      5.3.59
   Tenes       Parets             21      0.65     0(2)      6.12   20(1969)    104     20.9.71
   Congost La Garriga             66      0.64    0(20)    4.86(2) 136(1924)    126      4.4.69
   Besòs    Sta.Coloma            22      3.88     0.4      30.49 145(1971)     960     20.9.71
Source: Water Directorate
Q Monthly average flow
Qc highest average daily flow
Qci Surge flow
*Same date as Qci
( )Frequency
Table 35
Average flow rates, river Tordera

     Station     Series        Q        Q            Q               Qc         Qci        Data
                             (m /s) min.(m3/s)      max.            (m3/s)     (m3/s)      Qci
    S.Celoni         66      0.79      0(8)        10.81          85(Sep        213       20.9.71
                    20*      0.77    0.01(2)        7.37           1971)        100
      Can           20       5.58       0(8)           59.03      600(Feb       1280      20.9.71
      Serra                                                        1982)
Source: Water Directorate
Q Monthly average flow rate
Qc highest average daily flow rate
Qci Surge flow rate
*Series for 1969-70/1989-90

Table 36
Average flow rates, river Foix

            Years             Series    Q             Q               Q       Qci         Qci
                              (years) (m3/s)      min.(m3/s)         max.    (m3/s)      (m3/s)
     1928-29/1989-90            61      0.27            0(69)        3.52    63(May       240*
     1970-71/1989-90            20      0.26            0(5)         3.52    40(Sep       240*
Source: Water Directorate
Q Monthly average flow rate
Qc highest average daily flow rate
Qci Surge flow rate

Table 37
Flows rates, river Ter (Roda de Ter station)

      Series          Q           Q          Q                   Qc           Qci        Data
      years         (m3/s)    min.(m3/s)    max.                (m3/s)       (m3/s       Qci
                                           (m3/s)                              )
     1927-28        16.5         2.06      176.6         863(Dec 1932)       1300       13.9.63
     1970-71        24.6         3.29          73.44     750(Nov 1982)       1300       8.11.82
Source: Water Directorate
Q Monthly average flow rate
Qc highest average daily flow rate
Qci Surge flow rate
Table 38

Average flow rates in Llobregat canals

      Canal                   Data set        Q      Q min    Q max      Qc         Qc
                                            (m3/s)   (m3/s)   (m3/s)   (m3/s)     (m3/s)
   Sedó                 1965-66 / 1989-90    8.14    0 (17)   15.00    14.62      3-8-69
                        1980-81 / 1989-90    6.88    0 (10)   13.46    14.21      2-7-84
   Rra. Rubí            1972-73 / 1989-90    0.84     0.22     1.41     4.10     9-11-79
   Infanta              1964-65 / 1985-86    1.27    0 (16)    3.08     3.44     23-7-71
                        1980-81 / 1985-86    0.93     0.12     1.61     1.75     23-6-79
   de la Dreta          1964-65 / 1989-90    1.42     0 (5)     2.5     3.13     30-6-66
                        1980-81 / 1989-90    1.55     0 (2)     2.5     2.64    16-10-85
   S.Joan               1985-86 / 1989-90     3.3     0 (1)    4.91     6.83     15-8-86
Source: Water Directorate
Q Monthly average flow rate
Qc highest average daily flow rate
4.2 Aquifers: their use and degradation
Aquifers are geological structures which contain and provide significant amounts of water.
They refill naturally and their water can be tapped using wells. Aquifers form part of the
natural environment with which they inter-react. In the case of alluvial aquifers, the inter-
action is evident through fluctuating water tables which occasionally lie just below or just
above the surface, producing sheets of water in currents or in pools. Alluvial aquifers, formed
when rivers drop their solid load (mainly sand and gravels), are particularly notable in the
area. These deposits reach their maximum depth near river mouths, forming wide flood

Besòs and Llobregat aquifers
The Besòs aquifer system is formed by alluvial deposits close to its tributaries (Mogent,
Congost, Caldes, Tenes, and Ripoll) in the river basin, as well as the Besòs itself. They cover
an area of 30 km2 and, taken as a whole, their wells can yield flow rates over 100 m3/h. The
Besòs delta starts from the Congost de Moncada (gorge) and covers 12 km2, most of it
urbanised. The delta comprises three (superimposed) layers. The water quality varies
according to the aquifer.

The Tenes aquifer between its upper reach and down to Lliça de Vall is polluted by nitrates
(maximum concentrations from 118 to 186 mg/l, occasionally accompanied by potassium)
and chlorides. All of these pollutants are of agricultural origin. Downstream as far as the
confluence with the Besòs, the aquifer is affected by various chemical compounds,
particularly toluene. The source of this pollution seems to be leaks and industrial accidents in
the 1980s. Water quality in the Congost alluvial beds is good in the higher reaches of the river
but contains nitrate, chlorides, and other substances at levels above those permitted for
drinking water. The Caldes aquifer between Caldes de Montbui and Santa Perpètua de
Mogoda is affected by high nitrate levels (up to 354-385 mg/l) probably due to bad farming
practices. The water quality above this stretch is good and improves further down the river.
The water from the Mogent alluvial bed would almost be drinkable were it not for its nitrate
content (60-80 mg/l), probably due to fertilisers.

The Besòs alluvial bed (beginnibg at the junction of the alluvial beds mentioned above) is the
worst polluted in the whole of the Barcelona Area and represents risks to human health. Most
of this pollution is probably due to the extraction of sand and gravel from the aquifer (for
building materials and its replacement by every conceivable type of waste to a volume
estimated at 3.4 hm3. To these residues, one should add the industrial waste strewn across the
land or dumped in the water courses, illegal dumping, the impact of agriculture, and leaks
from sewers. Although much of these sources of pollution go back to the 1970s, the
pollutants are still being released into the water. Even though the general pollution level has
fallen significantly, heavy metals still show up on analysis. The high salinity of the delta
aquifer (several thousand milligrams of chlorine per litre) is due to sea water penetration into
the aquifer, worsened by excessive water extraction in the 1970‟s. The resulting salinity has
rendered two levels of the aquifers unusable.

The Llobregat alluvial beds provide a set of aquifers which cover some 18 km2. They begin
where the Llobregat breaches the Serralada Prelitoral (pre-coastal range) through a gorge and
end at the river delta. The beds are formed of sands and gravels from terraces beneath the
river and have a hydrological link with the present river bed. The wells sunk in the aquifers
yield on the order of 350-700 m3/h. The delta aquifer is similar to the Besòs aquifer with three
superimposed layers. The lower layer acts as a partially confined aquifer.

The Llobregat aquifers came under increasing pressure in the 1960s and 70s, when the
aquifer recharged by absorbing water from the river. This led to degradation of the aquifer
because the river transported salts from the Súria i Cardona mines as well as other pollutants.
Irrigation runoff and industrial sources (including solvents) added further pollutants. This
process has degraded the aquifer and left it isolated above the water table (particularly in
summer months) thus reducing its recharging capacity.
The Tordera, Maresme, and Garraf aquifers
The Tordera aquifer covers 37 km2 following the main water course and is sited in alluvial
and delta deposits similar to those described above. Lime and clay bands alternate with
gravels and sands with the deposits becoming deeper towards the sea. There is a free surface
aquifer which connects directly to the river and a deeper, trapped aquifer, which is captured
where the water course disappears. The wells in the area provide high flow rates of the order
of 250-360 m3/h per well.

The water from this aquifer was potable until the end of the 1970s, with slight highly
localised sea water intrusion. The introduction of reducing agents has shown up the presence
of iron and manganese which means the waters need to be treated before use. Agricultural
pollution (high nitrate levels) is highly localised on the lower right bank of the river as are
dioxins (albeit in very low concentrations). Sea water intrusion became apparent in the 1980s
and can still be found on the right bank of the river.

The Maresme aquifer is located to the North East of Barcelona between the Serralada
Prelitoral (pre-coastal range) and the Llobregat and Besòs rivers. It covers 80 km2 and reaches
a maximum width of 1km. It primarily comprises continental quaternary deposits which are
interspersed with marine deposits close to the coast. The set of aquifers fall in depth as they
approach the Serralada Litoral (coastal range). The flow rates per well (which vary between 5
and 60 m3/h) depend on the depth of the aquifer, the most frequent values ranging between 10
and 20 m3/h.

The water quality progressively deteriorates from the higher reaches to the coast. At the
highest part of the aquifer the water is virtually pure although naturally hard with calcium
carbonate concentrations between 300 and 500 mg/l. High nitrate levels are found in the
lower part of the aquifer (almost always over 50 mg/l and reaching as high as 500 mg/l).
There are also chlorates and phosphates of agricultural origin as well as chlorates due to sea
water infiltration.

The Garraf aquifer is a hydro-geological unit covering 320 km2, which occupies virtually the
entire massif. The permeability of the aquifer is due to the Karst processes typical of
limestone areas. The saturated layers are usually less then 10m deep and are actually only a
few metres above sea level. Well flow rate is highly variable as one would expect in a Karst
environment and normally ranges between 3 and 10 m3/h (the Canyelles well has flow rates
of the order of 700 m3/h).

The geological characteristics of the Garraf aquifer make it highly vulnerable to pollution.
The torrents springing from the Penedès area are one source of pollution, another source is
the housing estates around the massif (which lack sewage systems), as well as industries
(lacking purification plants). Pollution of wells is usually intermittent, organic material being
the most common contaminant. Sea water penetration was highly localised in the 1960‟s but
increased notably in the mid 1980‟s due to over extraction from the aquifer, causing half the
system to be affected by 1994. The current situation seems to be stable.

Other aquifers: Vallès and the Barcelona plain
The Vallès depression covers 560 km2 and there are various Miocene detritus formations of
diverse origin (particularly the pre-coastal range). These deposits contain lens shaped
inclusions of gravels and sands with a low quality matrix, effectively constituting dispersed
aquifers with a low capacity for replenishment. The flow rates per well are low (1 to 5 m3)
and fairly varied (although in some cases they reach 30-80 m3/h). There are other aquifers on
the Vilanova-Sant Pere de Ribes plain (with well flow rates of 20-30 m3/h), the Serralada
Prelitoral (with well flow rates of 15-50 m3/h), and on the Barcelona plain.

The Barcelona plain aquifer underlies the city and is a continuation of the Besòs delta aquifer.
Drawings from this aquifer have fallen sharply over the last 30 years since the industry in the
area (which formerly used over 60 hm3/year) has now relocated elsewhere. This has led to
recovery of the aquifer and a rise in the water table to an all time high with unfortunate
consequences for buildings which were built without taking ground water into account. Such
a body of water (which is of reasonably quality) would allow 30 hm3/year to be drawn
without over-exploiting the aquifer. This amount includes the 10 hm3 which is currently used
and the 9 hm3/year pumped out of the underground railway system.

Table 39
Aquifers in the Barcelona Area: water resources (hm3)
                 Besòs             Llobregat       Tordera Maresme           Garraf     Vallès
Year       Aquifers Delta        Delta Delta &
1965                    65       120
1969        20-24       60                150-160            6.7               0.5       3.5
1970                    60
1971          28        60                           40.6
1973                             145
1974                             112
1981                                                                           11
1983                                                        20-23             5-10
1984                              80
1985        16-18                                                                       8-10
end 80s       21        5                   130       38
1992                                                         24
1993                              45
1994                    4
1995                    2                             41                       11
current       20                  50                  40     20                10         10
Source: own elaboration based on J.Trilla‟s data

A second water distribution network would be required to use this water and the efficiency of
existing drawings would have to be increased. This could be promoted through a favourable
policy for water taxes, according to a study carried out by CLABSA and the UPC
(polytechnic university of Catalonia) for the Barcelona City Council. The new network could
be completed within five years and would supply 25% of the 4.2 hm3/year used for street
cleaning. The study also made other suggestions such as:
Using water surges to clean out part of the sewer network and partially replacing manual
   and mechanical cleaning by automatic hydraulic systems. The work could be financed
   by the savings achieved in maintenance costs.
Installing secondary water distribution networks in the Sagrera and Poblenou sea front
   areas where new building is planned, these being zones with large amounts of sub-
   surface water.
Increasing the use of ground water for particular industrial uses, such as refrigeration or car
   washes and washing stations for municipal bus fleets. The Besòs waste incinerator could
   also benefit from this source given that it consumes 300,000 m3/year.
Releasing water into the Besòs river to maintain a reasonable “ecological flow” volume in
   accordance with the provisions of the Besòs Plan.
4.3 Fresh water catchment and treatment
The two basic catchment areas for drinking water in the Barcelona Area are the Ter and
Llobregat rivers. The Llobregat basin is regulated by dams at Baells and Sant Ponç and, in the
near future, by a new dam at Llosa del Cavall which is almost finished. The total capacity of
the dams is 139 hm3/year and will increase to 85 hm3/year with the opening of the new dam.
The Ter basin is regulated by dams at Sau, Susqueda, and Pasteral with a total capacity of 400

Potabilising plants
The Barcelona Area currently has three large potabilising plants or ETAPs: the Terrassa Plant,
the Abrera Plant, and the Sant Joan Despí Plant. Initially each of these plants served their own
local area but now they work together so that to all intents and purposes they can be
considered as constituting a single system. There are regional and municipal pipeline
networks linking up the three plants.

The Terrassa Plant is sited below Olesa and works on an occasional basis. Terrassa is supplied
with water from three sources: aquifers in the area, water drawn from the Ter, and water from
the Llobregat. The water drawn off varies considerably from one year to another, ranging
between a minimum of 1,912 hm3/year and a maximum of 4,190 hm3/year (figures for the
period 1991 - 1995).

Table 40
Flow rates supplied by the three treatment plants 1991-95
    Potabilising plant (ETAP)          Flow volume (m3/s)
Terrassa                                       0.097
Abrera                                         0.645
Sant Joan Despí                                2.968
Cardedeu (Ter, imported water)                 6.409
Source: Manuel Soler

The Abrera plant is sited in the same municipality at 70m and can take flow rates of 9 m3/s.
The plant is owned by Aigües Ter Llobregat and is able to treat 3.5 m3/s, which can easily be
raised to 6 m3/s. The minimum volume of water supplied is 14.365 hm3/year and a maximum
of 23.208 hm3/year (figures for the period 1984-95).

The Sant Joan Despí Plant is at 11m and is sited 7 km from the point where the Llobregat
reaches the sea. It is owned by Aigües de Barcelona - AGBAR (water company). The
concession is for 5.3 m3/s and the maximum treatment capacity is 6 m3/s. The minimum
flow volume supplied was 75.770 hm3/year and the maximum 105.934 hm3/year in the period
1991-1995. The volume supplied by the plant in 1996 was 120 hm3. The large variation in the
volume of drinking water coming out of potabilisation plants largely depends on the quality
of fresh water going into them.

Treatment processes
The quality of the fresh water supplied to the plants determines the treatment adopted both in
terms of processes and the types and quantities of reactants employed. Analysis of the
efficiency of potabilisation processes involves comparing the quality of the fresh water
supplied to the plant and the desired characteristics of drinking water. Regulations determine
48 parameters for the untreated water and 62 for water after treatment. These parameters are
grouped under taste/smell, physicochemical, microbiological, and radioactive characteristics.
We will mainly concentrate on parameters of taste/smell; NH4+ and NO3-; heavy metals;
detergents; pesticides; micro-biological characteristics; conductivity/salinity; and treatment

Some of the parameters such as organic material (TOC), detergents and ions (cyanide and
phosphate) are set below the maximum limits established by legislation. Other harmless ions
(sulphates, chlorides, sodium, potassium, magnesium, etc.) are highly soluble and remain in
virtually the same concentrations as in the water prior to treatment. The presence of mineral
salts in particular concentrations is what determines whether the water supplied to the plants
merely meets health requirements or is suitable for drinking purposes.

Sterilisation is required to ensure the water meets micro-biological requirements. Water
which does not meet these standards can have an immediate effect on the health of
consumers. Existing controls of microbiological parameters and the time required to identify
micro-organisms is insufficient to recognise viable, non-cultivable cells. Faster methods
should shortly be available to detect viable cells and to diagnose the presence of a given
micro-organism without having to isolate it. These methods will be very useful in identifying
bacterial pathogens such as Legionella pneumophila, Vibrio cholerae, among others.
Microscopic analysis of drinking water can also reveal the presence of algae, etc.

One of the most serious problems of treated water from the Llobregat is its taste and smell,
which gives rise to a lot of complaints to the water companies. The high concentration of
sulphate, chlorine, sodium, and magnesium ions, which make the water highly conductive, is
one of the reasons for this. The other is the presence of a host of naturally occurring organic
compounds (man made or not!) which, despite the awful taste, may not actually be present in
harmful concentrations. Not surprisingly, most of the local population prefer to buy bottled
drinking water.
Table 41
Water quality at point of capture at the three treatment plants supplying the Barcelona Area

Parameter                                    Abrera                                 Sant Joan Despí                       El Pasteral

                                   94-95               95-96             94-95                  95-96               94-95                 95-96
      MES(mg/l) G                   42.91              67.47             73.64               127.67                 2.42               5.02
                                  13.0-81.0         14.8-379            14-151               18-692                 1-4              0.4-15.2
 Conductivity(S/cm)G                >A3               >A3                >A3              1436 >A3                  A1                 A1
                                 939.6-2295         704-1773        963.9-1830.6           828-2277           419.4-495.9            433-554
        Ammonia                       A2                 A2                A3                  A2                    A2                 A2
     (mgNH4+/l) G                 0.14-2.70          0.45-1.2         0.30-11.38           0.17-1.37            0.08-1.66           <0.1-1.22
 Detergents (mgLSS/l)G                A3               > A3                A3                  A1               0.06 >A1                A1
                                  0.05-0.76        <0.05-3.8          0.05-0.72             0.08-0.3            0.02-0.16           0.05-0.17
      Bicarbonates                  257.4             259.25             274.8               271.12                147.6              176.57
      (mgCO3Ca/l)                225.7-290.8         228-308         246.4-303.5            232-324           125.7-174.8            168-187
     Total Pesticides             0.053>A3        0.0625 >A3           0.05>A3                >A3               0.024>A3            0.026>A3
         (mg/l)l                  1 measure        0.045-0.08         1 measure           0.048-0.225         0.000-0.048          0.004-0.049
      Heavy metals                    A1                 A1                A1                  A1                    A1                 A1
         Phenols                      A3                 A2                A2                  A3                    A1                 A1
      TOC(MgC/l)                      9.4               6.08              10.4                6.54                   4.2                4.3
                                   4.0-18.6           5.1-8.9          4.1-27.4              3.7-9.5              2.8-7.3             3.1-6.5
Source: Water Treatment Board
(The data in the table provide average, minimum, and maximum values for points along the Llobregat and Pasteral rivers. When water quality is below
acceptable standards it is not drawn off.
Figure 3

Water before and after treatment: chemical characteristics

Chlorides Sulphates Calcium Sodium TOC/10 Detergents Phosphates

Untreated water Treated water

Source: AGBAR (water company) 1995
(Chlorides Sulphates Calcium Sodium TOC/10 Detergents Phosphates in g/l)

Another of the problems arises from the presence of by-products in drinking water
(aluminium, acrylamide, etc.) which are produced by chemical reactions during the
treatment process. These reactions take place between compounds in the water and
disinfectant or oxidisation reagents. By-products of this type include trihalomethanes and
bromates. Sometimes the presence of these products is not just a result of treatment since
the untreated water may also have contained these compounds (particularly true for iron,
halomethanes, and chlorophenol pollutants from industrial activity).

It would seem advisable to reconsider some aspects of the present system which is often
rather too permissive when problems are detected. An EU draft directive is intended to
amend Directive 80/778/CEE with the aim of thoroughly replanning not only narrow
treatment issues but also environmental factors not as directly connected with
potabilisation as the absence of pesticides and other compounds in drinking water.
Present and future water supply
The Sant Joan Despí treatment plant was the nerve centre for the river Llobregat while the
wells of Cornellà and the Cardedeu-Trinitat channel covered water from the Ter. The fact
that there was no practical inter-connection between the two centres meant that the failure
of either of them would have produced serious water supply problems in the Barcelona
Area. Enlargement of pipelines between the two principal treatment centres has markedly
improved the situation. A third source of water from the Llobregat came on stream in 1980
with the opening of the Abrera treatment plant. This draws off surface waters from the river
Llobregat. The plant is sited at 70 m above sea level and takes advantage of the greater
water quality to be found in the 25 km upstream stretch. The 1,250 mm diameter pipe at
Vallès and the recent building of a conduit between Abrera-Sant Joan Despí in 1994 is
beginning to produce a triangular network capable of guaranteeing Barcelona‟s water
supply. The Abrera, Sant Joan Despí and Cardedeu plants are located at the vertices of this
triangle. These installations provide:
A functioning network for Baix Llobregat which provides the South East of the Barcelona
    Metropolitan Area with an alternative and complimentary system to that at Sant Joan
    Despí. This means the Llobregat aquifer deposits can be saved for emergencies, thus
    maintaining the aquifer‟s capacity and water quality and allowing the Abrera plant to
    supply water from the Llobregat.
An improvement in water quality. The fact that the Abrera plant draws water above Sant
    Joan Despí reduces the danger of pollution. The Sant Joan Despí plant is currently the
    better-equipped of the two plants but it is planned to upgrade the Abrera plant to the
    same level. The potabilisation treatment at all the plants employs a multiple barrier
    system so the higher the quality of fresh water drawn into the system, the higher the
    resulting drinking water and the fewer treatment barriers are required.
Energy saving. The siting of the Abrera plant at 70m above sea level (Sant Joan Despí is at
    only 11m) allows supply to a wide area without much need for pumping.

Two new connections are planned:

Connection along the Vallès - Abrera axis employing a 3000 mm diameter pipeline
  (planned by the Aigües Ter Llobregat water company) which will, together with the
  Abrera-Sant Joan Despí connection, allow water to be sent to the two distribution points
  in the system from either the Llobregat or the Ter (currently Sant Joan Despí can only
  deal with water from the Llobregat and the Trinitat station with water from the Ter).
Doubling the Cardedeu-Trinitat connection (planned by Aigües Ter Llobregat) which will
  improve supply to the Vallès area and maintain the current pipeline providing the only
  route for water from the Ter to Barcelona province.

The result of this will be to create a network connecting up surface water sources and
providing the treatment plants with considerable operational flexibility. This in turn implies
more rational use of water, an improvement in water quality, and less need to re-use it,
assuming water is not drawn off further down the Llobregat. This in turn means a
contribution to the “ecological flow” of water to the sea. The new links enable the Abrera
plant to provide that part of the ecological flow volume which cannot be met from the other
two plants.

There are two compelling reasons for supplying high quality water to potabilisation plants:
first, it produces a better quality product and simplifies treatment processes; second, it
reduces the cost of providing drinking water. Water from the Ter is of better quality than
that drawn from the Llobregat and is also better regulated by dam schemes, ensuring
constant flow rates and quality. In contrast, The Llobregat‟s flow volume varies despite
regulation schemes because the summer flow mainly comprises waste water from treatment
plants and both accidental and intentional spills. This fact is responsible for wild swings in
water quality which is sometimes so low that the potabilisation plants are forced to close
down. The Abrera plant‟s site 25km upstream from the river mouth make it less vulnerable
in this respect since it lies above the heavily built up area of Baix Llobregat.

From an energy-saving point of view, the priority given to treatment plant operation should
be the following (most energy efficient first): Cardedeu, Abrera, and then Sant Joan Despí.
The plants are respectively sited at 147 m, 70 m, and 11 m above sea level. A 1992 study
into the pumping costs from the Cardedeu (Ter) and Abrera (Llobregat) stations (based on
the invoiced volume of water pumped, billed/metered electricity, pump ratings/electricity
bills, and the electricity tariffs in that year) came to the following conclusions:
Comparing similar water volumes, the energy consumed for pumping from the Llobregat
   works out 142.4% more expensive than that from the Ter.
The electricity required per cubic metre (kWh/m3) supplied and the cost (pta/m3) gives the
   Ter a clear advantage over the Llobregat.
The above differences stem from the height of the plants above sea level. It should also be
   notedthat water from the Llobregat supplies settlements at higher altitudes than those
   supplied by the Ter.
Although saving energy is important and cost-effective,it is more important to ensure
   effective management of water resources from different sources even if this means
   paying higher electricity costs. Supplies produced with c heap electricity could be
   reserved for emergencies.
4.4 Sewage: types, treatment, use
A wide range of sewage treatments are used in the Barcelona Area and its immediate
surroundings, almost of all of which depend on water. The use of water in these treatments
is superimposed on the natural water cycle and the pollution in untreated effluent depends
on the uses to which the water was put. When effluents are channelled in a controlled way
it is possible to treat the water and restore it to a greater or lesser extent so that it can safely
be returned to the environment or put to another use. This applies to urban and industrial
effluents. The problem is that untreated effluents are returned to the environment in a host
of ways, making subsequent treatment extremely difficult.

The Catalan Water And Sewage Treatment Plan
The first versions of the Catalan Water And Sewage Treatment Plan complied with the
European Directive on water treatment before its acceptance by Spain. This directive
established a requirement to install sewage treatment plants and systems for all
municipalities of over 2,000 inhabitants in accordance with the timescale:
31st January 1998 for populations of over 10,000 which discharge wastewater in sensitive
31st December 2000 for population agglomerations of over 15,000 which discharge
    wastewater in non-sensitive areas.
31 December 2005 for populations of between 2,000 and 15,000 which discharge
    wastewater in non-sensitive areas.

The same directive also sets the following deadlines for installing wastewater treatment
systems for urban sewage:
31st December 1998: for the reduction of P and/or N content in wastewater discharges into
   sensitive areas and/or catchment areas by populations of over 10,000 inhabitants.
31st December 2000: for the secondary treatment or equivalent for wastewater discharges
   by population agglomerations of over 15,000 inhabitants.
31st December 2005: covering populations of between 10,000 and 15,000 as per the
   foregoing case.
31st December 2005: for wastewater discharges in estuaries and fresh water by populations
   of between 2,000 and 10,000 inhabitants. Villages of less than 2,000 inhabitants only
   have to provide “adequate” wastewater treatment by this deadline.
31 December 2005: “adequate” treatment required for wastewater discharges into coastal
   waters by population agglomerations of under 10,000 inhabitants.
Objectives and shortcomings
The Catalan Water Treatment Plan was approved in 1991 for Area Z (Catalan basins) and in
1992 for area B (areas where some responsibilities are shared with the Ebre Hydrographical
Confederation). Execution of the Plan was envisaged over a 20 year time span. The Plan
took EU Directive 91/271CEE as its framework and set out three main objectives for water
treatment in Catalonia:

To prevent pollution at origin for inland and coastal waters, whether surface or sub-surface.
To restore the potability and natural characteristics of surface and ground water.
To guarantee a balance of supply and demand based on rational use and management of
   water resources.

The Plan comprises 6 programmes: Treatment of Urban Wastewater; Treatment of Sludges
from Sewage Plants; Treatment of Industrial Wastes; Treatment of Agricultural Muck; and
a Treatment programme for Treating Pollution of Diffuse Origin. At the time of writing
(1997) only the first two programmes are in use.

The main document underpinning the Plan was a statement of environmental principles,
which merit comment here. The classification of water courses in the statement was based
on ISQA values. The water courses are grouped under their aptness for the following five
uses: (1) unsuitable for any use; (2) cooling water; (3) drinking water after special
treatment, irrigation and industrial; (4) fishing; and (5) all uses. This classification is
somewhat unbalanced in emphasising human use and ignoring the maintenance of flow
regimes to guarantee river ecology. Factors such as man-made alteration to river courses
and river flow patterns have been ignored.

One of the treatments which urban waste waters must receive before being returned to the
environment is coyly termed “suitable treatment”. This is applicable to settlements of under
2000 discharging sewage into fresh water or estuaries and to settlements of under 10,000
discharging sewage into the sea. According to the Plan, treatment is considered “suitable”
when “the wastewater discharged meets quality objectives of the environment”. This
gobbledegook just adds to the general vagueness when dealing with what ought to be
natural water courses.

A second criticism can be made in classing water courses as “sensitive” or “non-sensitive”.
The fact that a river is classed in one group determines whether discharged waste waters
are adequately treated to remove nitrogen and phosphorus. In particular, the Plan envisages
applying this treatment to waste-water from urban areas of over 10,000 inhabitants which
discharge into areas considered “sensitive” (defined as “water bodies which are
eutrophysed or liable to become so if suitable measures are not taken. This applies to
natural lakes and fresh water areas as well as estuaries and coastal waters or any other
water course at risk from algae blooms”. However a glance at the map reveals the worst
treated rivers are missing from the list of “sensitive” areas such as “the final stretch of the
river Llobregat from Sant Feliu de Llobregat to the sea, the stretch of the river Rubí from
Terrassa to its confluence with the Llobregat, the stretch downstream of the following
settlements in the Besòs basin: Sant Quirze del Vallès, Castellar del Vallès, Caldes de
Montbui, Santa Eulàlia de Ronçana, la Garriga, and from the confluence of the river
Cànoves with the river Mogent”.

Following the same criteria, the coast, which is seriously affected by urban wastewater
discharges during seasonal dry periods only has two sensitive areas: the port of Alfacs and
Fangar in the Ebro Delta. It is extremely hard to understand the exclusion of specific parts
of the Barcelona Area, unless of course those drawing up the Plan confused the concepts of
“degradation” and “irreversibility”.

The effectiveness of the Plan, however, depends in the final analysis on the programmes
which flow from it. As far as the Catalan Urban Wastewater Treatment Programme is
concerned, one has to recognise the effort made to improve water quality before it reaches
potabilising plants, with conversion of physicochemical plants to biological ones and the
elimination of nutrients in water destined for drinking purposes. The professional zeal
apparent in pursuing potabilisation programmes could hardly contrast more with the
reticence displayed in procuring water which guarantees ecological processes. Thus the
Wastewater Treatment Programme‟s explicit demand to eliminate water-borne nutrients is
interpreted so as to make it virtually meaningless. Instead of a firm commitment to reduce
nitrogen and phosphorus in all urban wastewater impacting on “sensitive areas”, the current
plan will reduce nitrogen and, a great concession, eliminate phosphorus in some cases
which might or might not coincide with “sensitive areas”.

The natural quality of a water course also strongly depends on it‟s flow quantity. Most
Catalan rivers spring (if “spring” is the word) several times along their courses, almost
invariably from treatment plants‟ outfall pipes. This water is quite unsuitable for sustaining
life unless it is sufficiently diluted by fresh water. There is currently no definition of the
factors to be taken into account when defining “ecological flow” and hence the required
dilution of outfall water. Similarly, no attempt has been made to tie this up with the pious
intentions expressed in the Wastewater Treatment Plan to maintain the natural character of
water courses. Man-made changes to water courses have become the rule (channelling,
diversions, etc.) in areas threatened by flooding or to free “strategic” areas. Man‟s works
particularly affect the lower stretches of rivers and make one seriously doubt whether the
Plan can get to grips with the challenge of integrated river planning in the region.

As the Programme itself recognises, the definition of sewage is wrong, since domestic
wastewater (and industrial wastewater with similar characteristics) is mixed with heavily
polluted industrial discharges in the sewage system. The Programme lacks systems for
protecting treatment plants from the highly unpredictable arrival of harmful industrial
effluents which, in the final analysis, should be controlled by municipal authorities
(responsible for implementing regulations covering industrial discharges into the sewer
system). Other factors which put the efficient operation of plants at risk are the seasonal
variations in population (tourism, etc.) and the distribution of rainfall. The Programme
does not take the area‟s torrential rains and droughts into account, either in the network‟s
capacity to evacuate surge flows or by planning rainwater tanks to buffer them and prevent
the sewage system being swamped. The Programme does however does consider the
possibility of local population densities outstripping forecasts and rendering treatment
facilities inadequate (these trends are difficult to forecast).

The Programme shows little interest in coastal waters. Although it aims to strengthen EU
Directives regarding water quality in coastal areas, this is limited to the criteria for bathing
purposes (evidently a good idea if one wants to attract tourism). The use of offshore sewage
outfalls is a much favoured solution. Perhaps the Programme intends to leave some of the
problems that afflict the Mediterranean to a future Treatment Plan for Wastewater of
Diffuse Origin. These problems include the swamping of treatment plants during heavy
rains or the pollution slick that shows up off the beaches (particularly Poblenou). Other
points ignored in the Plan include the poor state of some of the submarine sewage outfalls
which (because there is no alarm system) give rise to some nasty pollution incidents.

Programmes awaiting development
Some of the other Programmes (leaving aside the Sewage Sludge Programme, commented
on in Chapter 8.2), are still awaiting development. The suggestions for the Programme
covering pollution of diffuse origin actually focuses on pollution sources which are highly
localised such as urban rubbish tips, industrial waste dumps, mine tailings, etc. The Plan
places most of the responsibility for diffuse pollution on to those responsible for tip safety.
This means checking all new plans for solid wastes, to see that minimisation, separation,
and recycling of residues are regulated. One also hopes that the bodies responsible for
mining regulations will adopt practices to avoid pollution. There is also a lack of emphasis
on treating genuinely diffuse pollution which (leaving aside that caused by agribusiness)
has a wide range of causes such as leakage of liquids and solids from the sewerage system.

Turning to the Programme for Sewage Treatment of Livestock Muck, although the proposal
to control muck at its point of origin is a sensible one, there is still a question mark hanging
over what will be done with this waste. The intention to use these organic wastes to replace
mineral fertilisers (with greater energy efficiency in farming as a spin-off) would be very
welcome if it proved viable. However, the quantity of muck produced is unevenly
distributed throughout the area so that muck spreading is likely to involve medium and
long distance transport which will push up the final cost of the product. The area has also
virtually reached the limit of its capacity to absorb more muck, bearing in mind that a home
also has to be found for sewage sludge and organic material from composting plants.

The guidelines for the Programme for Treating Agriculture Wastewater follow the approved
practices given in EU Directive 91/676. The risk that livestock farmers will simply turn a
blind eye to these voluntary guidelines is lessened by a policy of making polluters pay, but
this policy will only work if fines are set at realistic levels and rigorously enforced.

As far as the Programme for Treating Industrial Wastewater is concerned, it is worrying
that the EU directives adopted focus on the water quality of emission effluents. This focus
on emission standards rather than on water quality and requirements in the receptor is not
enough to guarantee the environmental quality of Catalan water courses.

Generation and types of wastewater
Various models can be adopted for the generation of industrial and household wastewater
based on population mobility. One could put forward a model with a circadian rhythm with
peak discharges corresponding to the population‟s water use and with a built in time lag in
arriving at the treatment plant depending on the length of sewerage systems. This model
works well from Sunday through to Friday nights. The model includes water consumption
and discharge generation at work and reflects the shift in sewage production from
residential to business areas during working hours.

A second model describes consumption habits and hence covers the wastewater produced
at weekends (Friday night to Sunday night). A large number of people travel out of the big
cities at the weekend to second homes in and beyond the area. The two models together
explain weekly wastewater patterns. There are two further models that have to be taken into
account since these modify the weekly pattern. The third model is seasonal and takes
Easter, long weekends, bank holidays, and the Christmas period into account. A fourth
model is applicable to the summer holidays when there is a large influx of foreign tourists.
This kind of tourism is extremely important to the area, especially the Costa Brava and the
Costa Daurada. The number of tourist overnight stays in Barcelona has increased over the
last few years along with attendance at congresses. The four models taken together provide
an approximation to wastewater generation. However some of the population movements
underlying these models are not reflected in census data. In this case one has to use real
data to arrive at a population figure for each township.

To all this, one must add individual sewage treatment systems (either an asset or a liability,
depending on the system) which are quite important in some areas. A prospective study
should be carried out to detect trends in the volume of household, industrial, and other
wastewater produced based on standard of living, taking neighbouring countries as a model
since these are slightly more developed. This would help in designing efficient wastewater
networks and treatment systems and reduce the margin of error.

Urban wastewater
Urban wastewater is piped through the sewage system to treatment plants or discharged
straight into the environment. The current situation is far from ideal with over half of
Barcelona‟s wastewater (from the Southern part of the city and the towns of Prat,
l‟Hospitalet, etc.) being discharged untreated into the sea. There are also shortcomings in
treatment plants in the area.

The European Directive on wastewater treatment establishes a time scale for building
sewage networks and treatment plants in all municipalities of over 2,000 inhabitants. The
Directive further requires member states to identify sensitive areas so that tertiary treatment
can be used to reduce nitrogen levels in sewage plants. The areas considered “sensitive” in
the Barcelona Area are: the Foix and Tordera rivers and the Llobregat (except its final
section). The upper part of the Besòs basin is also considered “sensitive” but the Riera de
Rubí is excluded.

The urban wastewater treatment programme approved by the Generalitat de Catalunya
(Catalan Government) envisages individual secondary treatment plants for all settlements
of over 2000 inhabitants before 1998. The Barcelona Area is planning the building of 51
treatment plants of which 11 are near the coast. The treatment plants will have the capacity
to serve over 9 million inhabitants, thus providing ample scope for population growth.
Most of the treatment systems adopted are biological and some will also eliminate nutrients
(primarily nitrogen, with phosphorus as a secondary objective).

The 1981 Special Metropolitan Sewage Plan for the Barcelona Metropolitan Area (PSEM)
prompted the building of significant sewage systems, treatment plants, and submarine
outlets. The Metropolitan Sewage Treatment Company (EMSSA) belongs to the
Metropolitan Corporation for Water and Waste Treatment (EMSHTR), which is responsible
for managing the Plan, including the planning, building, and operation of wastewater
treatment and other facilities included therein. Modifications were introduced as
amendments to the Plan were made. Almost all of the documents touching on wastewater
treatment refer to the relative importance of treating Barcelona sewage. This should be
distinguished from the tier of townships around the city which are EMSSA‟S responsibility
and other townships whose wastewater is the responsibility of other bodies such as the
Maresme County Council or the Consortium for the Preservation of the Besòs Basin, which
operate with a greater or lesser degree of independence and cooperation.
Barcelona and its adjacent townships (Hospitalet, Santa Coloma, Sant Adrià, el Prat, etc.)
can be said to jointly manage wastewater. Two large treatment plants are planned. The first,
in Besòs, currently provides physicochemical treatment of 500,000 m3/day in winter
(which increases significantly in Summer months with water piped in from the river Besòs
in an attempt to improve the quality of beaches close to its estuary). The introduction of
more advanced treatment methods is planned for this plant. Another large plant is planned
for the Metropolitan Area and will be sited in the Llobregat estuary, taking up land made
available by diverting the final section of the river. The plant will have a capacity of
600,000 m3/day. The two plants will treat over 80% of wastewater within the area covered
by the Plan.

There are other plants in virtually the same metropolitan area: Gavà-Viladecans and Sant
Feliu de Llobregat (biological treatment), Montcada (physicochemical plant, with
construction of a biological treatment plant underway) and some smaller plants such as
Begues and Vallvidrera of relatively little importance. There is even a small treatment plant
in Castelldefels which has now closed and whose sewage is now treated at the Gavà-
Viladecans plant. There are scattered treatment plants throughout the rest of the area but
these are of very minor importance. There are 51 sewage plants in total, of which 11 are
along the coastal strip.
Table 42
Wastewater treatment by the Environmental Agency (millions of m3 treated)

      Treatment plant         1992        1993        1994         1995     1996
Begues                          0.2         0.1         0.2          0.2      0.3
Besòs                         221.6       201.5       172.0        167.1    215.0
Gavà-Viladecans                11.5        13.2        15.1         16.2     17.7
Moncada i Reixac               17.6        17.9        17.5         17.4     19.9
Sant Feliu de Llobregat        13.7        14.1        14.8         14.1     17.7
Vallvidrera                     0.2         0.2         0.2          0.2      0.2
Total                          267        248.1       221.2        215.2    270.8
Source: Barcelona Metropolitan Area
Table 43 Sewage treatment systems in the Barcelona Area (1996 data with partial updates for 1997)

  Treatment plant (county)   Inhabitants/Equivalent                                 Settlements served                                    Flow rate (m3/day)        Remarks
Abrera BLL                      34,100/110,800                   Esparreguera, Olesa de Montserrat, Abrera and Collbató                        23,000           Biological with
                                                                                                                                                                   first stage
                                                                                                                                                                  treatment &
                                                                                                                                                               nutrient reduction
Aiguafreda VOR                   2,705/5,300                           Aiguafreda, Sant Martí de Centelles (Abella)                             1,150              Biological
Arboç-Marmellà GRF                 10,780/-
Arenys de Mar MAR                  24,600/-                         Arenys de Mar, Arenys de Munt, Canet de Mar                                 7,700               Planned
Begues BLL                       2,330/4,950                                           Begues                                                    900               Biological
Besòs Barcelona North        1,400,000/3,000,000      Barcelona (60%), Sant Adrià de Besòs, Santa Coloma de Gramenet, Badalona,                600,000          Physicochemical
                                                                                    Montgat, Tiana                                                             for part of the year
Bigues and Rielles VOR            2,800/4,600                                     Bigues and Rielles                                             920             Aerated sewage
Caldes de Montbui VOR           11,323/45,000                                       Caldes de Montbui                                           5,000              Biological
Canyamars MAR                      1,292/-                                               Dosrius                                                  -                Biological

Canyelles GRF                      800/875                                               Canyelles                                              200
Cardedeu-La Roca VOR            20,559/63,500         Cardedeu, la Roca del Vallès, Llinars del Vallès, les Franqueses de Vallès (part)        12,700           Biological under
Castellar del Vallès VOR        26,538/76,600                                       Castellar del Vallès                                        8,000          Under construction
Castellet GRF
Corbera-Rafamans(BLL)             6,000/5,000                             Corbera de Llobregat (Corbera Baixa)                                  1,000
Corbera-Riera (BLL)                 -/2,500                                Corbera de Llobregat (Corbera Alta)                                   500             Biological &
                                                                                                                                                               nutrient reduction
Cubells-Cunit GRF                5,598/81,250                    Cubelles and Vilanova i la Geltrú housing estate, Cunit                       16,250              Biological
Gavà-Viladecans BLL             18,000/397,500         Gavà, Viladecans, Sant Boi de Llobregat (50%), Sant Climent de Llobregat,               72,000              Biological
                                                                        Castelldefels & Sitges (Botigues centre)                                                   treatment
Granollers VOR                 177,455/128,000            Granollers, Canovelles, Franqueses del Vallès (part), Garriga (part)                 32,000              Biological
La Llagosta                   95,000/233,000         Mollet del Vallès, Sant Frost de Campsentelles, la Llagosta, S. Perpètua de     43,000        Biological
                                                                 Mogoda i Polinyà, Sentmenat, Palau de Plegamans
Martorell BLL                 20,000/50,152                              Martorell & Sant Esteve Sesrovires                          15,000      Biological and
                                                                                                                                                nutrient reduction
Mataró MAR                   127,000/421,250      Mataró, Argentona, Cabrera de Mar, Cabrils, Vilassar de Mar, Vilassar de Dalt      57,000    Under construction
Montcada VOC                 180,000/370,000      Montcada i Reixac, Ripollet, Cerdanyola, Sant Cugat del Vallès and Barberà del     72,500      Currently being
                                                                                     Vallès                                                      extended from
                                                                                                                                               physicochemical to
Montornès del Vallès VOR      41,000/250,000      Montmelò, Parets del Vallès, Lliçà de Vall, Lliça d‟Amunt, Montornès del Vallès,   25,000         Biological
                                                         Granollers (part), Mollet del Vallès (part), Vilanova del Vallès
Òrrius                              932/-
Pineda de Mar MAR              44,700/200,000           Pineda de Mar, Malgrat de Mar, Calella, Santa Susanna, Palafolls              40,000   Under construction
El Prat de Llobregat        1,055,405/2,100,000     El Prat de Llobregat, Sant Joan Despí, Sant Boi de Llobregat (50%), Santa        375,000       Planned
Barcelona South                                   Coloma de Cervelló, Esplugues de Llobregat, Hospitalet de Llobregat, Sant Just
                                                                 Desvern, Cornellà de Llobregat, Barcelona (40%)
Rubí VOC                         444,387                             Rubí, Sant Cugat del Vallès (Valldoreix)                        27,000      Biological with
                                                                                                                                                 initial physico-
                                                                                                                                               chemical treatment
Sabadell-Riu Ripoll VOC       94,800/250,000                                      Sabadell (part)                                    30,000    Biological planned
Sabadell-Riu Sec VOC         104,000/291,666                      Sabadell (part) & Sant Quirze del Vallès (part)                    50,000         Biological
Sant Andreu de Llavaneres         4,200/-               Sant Andreu de Llavaneres, Sant Vicenç de Montalt, Caldes d‟Estrac            7,360    Biological planned
Sant Antoni de Vilamajor        3,400/2,680                     Sant Antoni de Vilamajor & Sant Pere de Vilamajor                     480          Biological
Sant Celoni VOR               12,000/24,000                                         Sant Celoni                                       3,600      Biological &
                                                                                                                                               nutrient reduction
Sant Feliu de Codines VOR      3,605/12,000                                    Sant Feliu de Codines                                  2,900    Under construction
Sant Feliu de Llobregat BLL   100,000/413,000   Sant Feliu de Llobregat, Sant Just Desvern, Molins de Rei, Sant Andreu de la   72,000     Biological &
                                                       Barca, Pallejà, Sant Vicenç dels Horts, Castellbisbal i el Papiol                   reduction of
Sant Llorenç Savall VOC         2,580/3,000                                 Sant Llorenç Savall                                 900         Biological
Sant Pol de Mar MAR                4,000               Sant Pol de Mar, Sant Cebrià de Vallalta, Sant Iscle de Vallalta        4,224    Biological planned
Sant Qurize Safaja VOR          249/10,291                         Sant Qurze Safaja, Castellterçol (60%),                     2,600    Under construction
Santa Eulàlia de Ronçanca      30,500/20,200     Santa Eulàlia de Ronçana, Lliça d‟Amunt (part), l‟Ametlla del Vallès (part)   5,050    Under construction
Santa Maria de Palautordera     5,000/8,600             Santa Maria de Palautordera & Sant Esteve de Palautordera              1,290      Biological &
VOR                                                                                                                                       elimination of
Sitges GRF                        400/800                            Sitges (includes centre of Garraf)                         160         Biological
Sitges-Sant Pere de Ribes      28,000/60,000                             Sitges, Sant Pere de Ribes                            18,000    Biological under
GRF                                                                                                                                        construction
Teià MAR                      65,000/131,250     El Masnou, Alella, Premià de Dalt, Premià de Mar, Vilassar de Dalt, Teià      22,500    Biological under
Terrassa                         346,420/-
Tordera MAR                     8,100/9,000                                       Tordera                                      2,000     Biological under
Vacarisses VOC                    1,138/-                                        Vacarisses                                                  Planned
Vallgorguina VOR                 995/2,200                                     Vallgorguina                                     550          Planned
Vallromanes VOR                  700/1,500                                      Vallromanes                                     300
Vallvidrera BCN                 2,000/1,326                 Barcelona (incl. Vallvidrera and Les Planes centres)                700         Biological

Viladecavalls-Se VOC              2,845/-                                        planned
Viladecavalls-So VOC              2,846/-                                        planned
Vilanova i la Geltrú GRF       45,800/56,000                                Vilanova i la Geltrú                               17,000       Biological

Source: data from various Sewage Board publications listed in the bibliography (BLL: Baix Llobregat/ BCN: Barcelona/ GRF: Garraf/ MAR:
Maresme/ VOC: Vallès Occidental/ VOR: Vallès Oriental).
Industrial wastewater
Industrial wastewater is quite distinct from urban sewage. Most industrial pollutants fluctuate
considerably over time. In Catalonia one can consider that industrial discharges occur 260
days a year, 11 hours a day.

Table 44
Distribution of industrial sites in the Barcelona Area Basin

Basin             Industry type A Vol.discharges      DQO dec     MONTH       Other industries
                                  m3/yr.              tons/yr.    tons/yr.    Type B
Besòs                   821           23,456            18,161       4,522         2,063
Foix                     68             669              345           74           136
Llobregat              1,076          50,920            22,546       5,965         2,650
Rieres del               38             531              105           54            89
Rieres del           145               5,546         3,448           821            538
la Tordera           104               5,386          905            468            189
Totals              2,252             86,508        45,510          11,904         5,665
Source: Programme for treatment of industrial wastewater

The Wastewater Treatment Programme was provisionally approved by the Board of the
Wastewater Treatment Council on the 15th of December 1995. The primary objective, in
accordance with EU Directive 91/271/CEE, was to ensure treatment of all industrial
wastewater in Catalonia by 1998. The Wastewater Treatment Plan established which were the
most industrialised settlements in order to build an initial treatment system employing
physicochemical processes. The second stage will introduce biological processing of waste.
In theory, this allows treatment to be matched to the types of industrial wastewater
encountered in each settlement. At the same time industries are required to control their
discharges in accordance with environmental considerations.

According to the Sewage Council‟s classification, Type A industries are those with discharges
exceeding 6,000 m3/year or containing pollutants different from those in domestic
wastewater. Type B industries are those whose discharges are less than this volume or are
similar to domestic waste and with a CNAE-74 of under 5000. Given that the great bulk of
pollution is caused by Type A industries, control is focused on these sources, using chemical
oxygen demand (DQO) and solids in suspension (MES) as parameters.

Methods of discharging industrial effluents vary in each river basin. Most of the discharges in
the Besòs and Llobregat are collected by the sewer systems. Dumping straight into the water
course is more common with factories along the river Tordera and the fate of industrial waste
in the Maresme is much more varied. The concentration of pollutants also varies according to
the river basin. Of the 158 industries in Catalonia with a sizeable polluting potential (based
on DQC and EQUITOX), 116 (73%) are sited in the Barcelona Area while 51 are located
along the Besòs, 52 along the Llobregat, 11 along the Maresme, and 12 along the Tordera

Authorisation for effluent discharge is painfully slow according to the Sewage Council (the
process takes some 10 months) and is excessively rigid concerning the types of discharge
permitted. Whatever the case may be, control over discharges falls under 3 heads: (1) an
initial “permission to discharge effluent into a public water course” or “permission to
discharge into coastal waters”; (2) provisional approval available for a “programme of
gradual decontamination” (PDG) where the water authority for the area determines specific
measures to be taken by a set deadline; and (3) “guidelines for discharging effluent into the
public sewer system” which serves to orient municipalities lacking their own local by-laws on
the subject.

Livestock wastewater
Livestock farmers have traditionally been recalcitrant in accepting water treatment plans,
perhaps not surprising given the shadowy character of the sector and the relative lack of
controls over livestock farming. These difficulties notwithstanding, attempts have been made
to plan controlled muck spreading depending on the number of head and kilos of nitrogen per
hectare. The counties with the highest densities of cattle and swine per hectare (Osona, for
example) cannot absorb the volume of muck they produce and resort to dumping it on their
neighbours any way they can. These counties may lie outside the study area but their muck
does not. The animal excrement finds its way into the river Osona and then into the Ter which
runs into the catchment area supplying Barcelona with drinking water.

Wastewater treatment
A distinction is usually drawn between conventional and natural water treatment systems.
Ecosystems have a bearing on this (as do their component parts: soils, lagoons,
soil/vegetation systems, etc.). With regard to conventional treatment systems, most of the
existing systems aim to clean up water to the standards set in EU Directive 91/271 which
envisages three types of treatment:

Primary treatment: Normally a physicochemical process which includes sedimentation of
   solids in suspension or other process by which the DBO5 content in wastewater is reduced
   by at least 20% and solids in suspension by 50%.
Secondary treatment: This generally includes a biological process with secondary
   sedimentation or other process whereby the DBO5 content does not exceed 25 mg O2/l ,
   DQO less than 125mg O2/l and suspended solids less than 35 mg/l for population centres
   of over 10,000 equivalent inhabitants and 60mg/l for population centres of between 2,000
   and 10,000 equivalent inhabitants.
Suitable treatment: Any treatment process and/or system which discharges into a water course
   must meet water quality requirements. A higher level of treatment is applicable than for
   urban wastewater discharged into “sensitive areas”. The treatment applicable in this case
   consists of eliminating excessive nitrogen and/or phosphorus.

Natural treatment systems use technology with minimal installation and maintenance
requirements and employ natural processes to achieve water purification. Thus vegetation,
soil, micro-organisms (both soil and water dwelling) and, to a limited extent, higher animals
living in their natural habitat can serve for this purpose. Natural systems require little
manpower, use less energy than conventional ones, and produce less sludge. The main
drawback is the amount of land required to site natural treatment systems. They are often
combined with a conventional secondary plant providing tertiary treatment. Natural systems
can be classified according to the environmental matrix they employ or according to the
application method. A third way of classifying them is in accordance with whether the treated
water is recovered (which requires special systems) or not. It is debatable whether intentional
or accidental recharging of aquifers represents water recovery.
Table 45
Classification of natural systems according to application type
Type                            Environment/s                   Description
Surface application             Soil                            Sequential flooding
                                Soil/vegetation                 Surface flow (green filters)
                                                                Wetlands with surface flow
                                Soil/water                      SAT systems
                                                                SPAT systems

Deep application                Soil/vegetation                 Sub-surface irrigation
                                Soil/water                      Wetland with sub-surface
Source: Miquel Salgot
Use of treated waters
Domestic sewage is the type most likely to be used after treatment, so plants have to treat
domestic waste to reach acceptable levels of organic material and solids in suspension. As the
resulting water may be reused, health is the main concern here, which necessitates extra
treatment stages to eliminate harmful micro-organisms. Existing sewage plants have not
taken these needs into account and most of the tertiary treatment applied is merely limited to
eliminating nutrients. Future plans will have to treat effluents to remove solids in suspension
and ensure their disinfection. There is currently a discussion concerning the standards
(particularly micro-biological) that these effluents should meet if they are to be re-used. The
argument centres on acceptable risk levels for unrestricted use of “regenerated water”.

If risk levels approaching zero are required, treatment systems guaranteeing virtually no
pathogens must be employed. However, the reliability of these systems is also questionable. It
is possible to guarantee a quality similar to that of the drinking water in the area, including a
certain residual level of chlorine. If a reasonable level of risk is allowed the treatment would
not need to be so thorough. The risk of infection is considered practically negligible below
certain threshold levels. If this criterion is adopted, residual chlorine can be eliminated. It
should be noted the use of chlorine itself carries a risk of producing trihalomethanes. Our
recommendation is that human contact with treated water be limited by carefully specifying
the uses to which it can be put.

The aim in both cases is to minimise population exposure to potentially harmful pathogens.
There are particular irrigation systems (such as drip irrigation) which guarantee this. This
leads one to consider whether regenerated water quality should perhaps depend on the
subsequent use intended for it. There is certainly no lack of argument on the subject and
arguments for one or other standard rage while the authorities responsible for the eventual
implementation continue to sit on the fence. Lack of regulation is threatening possible re-use
of treated sewage. Existing legislation (dating from 1986) only forbids its use as drinking
water. There is a need for a binding report on the subject by the health authorities and a
decision about officially permitted uses.

The Sewage Board is drafting a document to decide the measures required in re-use of
wastewater within the context of central government devolution of power to Catalonia. As in
so many other cases, the situation on the ground has outstripped the snail‟s pace of the
legislator. A few such projects are already in operation but are still confined to watering golf
courses, although other projects have brought up the possibility of increasing river flows
(Llobregat), the creation and regeneration of wetland areas (Llobregat and Besòs), recharging
aquifers, and crop irrigation. These suggestions apart, it would appear there is interest in
increasing industrial uses of regenerated water and using it to water city parks and gardens
(and particularly golf courses). One basic concept for such a policy should be the replacement
of river water. This narrowly missed coming true during the 1991 drought when the
regenerated wastewater from the Sant Feliu de Llobregat plant was about to be used instead
of water from the Canal de la Infanta (channelled water course). Unfortunately the rains came
and the experiment was never carried out.

Industries have been recycling for some time now and there are various applications in the
pipeline for using soil systems to remove certain pollutants from industrial effluents.
Additional treatment systems employ ponds or small lakes (golf courses), fast-acting sand
filters (Sant Feliu de Llobregat), and an infiltration-percolation system (Piera). The
Department of Health document cites treatment sewage ponds as the standard treatment. The
volumes processed and the area available for treatment facilities will determine the choice of
regeneration and purification methods. The choice will be between intensive, traditional,
extensive, or natural, depending on plant size. It should be noted here that natural treatment
systems are poorly-developed in Catalonia and the need for tertiary plants is being used as an
opportunity to remedy the situation.

There is currently controversy over whether it is better to build large tertiary plants providing
very high quality water or smaller plants which provide water suitable for anticipated uses
and with practically “in situ” treatment. It appears the policy will be to concentrate water
treatment in existing plants which offer economies of scale and greater control over
treatment. As previously mentioned, little tertiary treatment is provided in the area. The
largest tertiary plant is at Sant Feliu de Llobregat, which is capable of producing 0.5m3/s of
water suitable for all uses. Further treatment methods are planned for the Nord de Barcelona
plant and for the Montcada plant‟s discharges as part of the Besòs Estuary Plan.

Discharge of treated waters
Once wastewater has been treated, there is the problem of discharging it. It is usually
discharged into water courses or through submarine outfall pipes. This means losing an
important resource. Re-use is clearly a more intelligent and ecological way to employ the
product water and is becoming more popular, especially along the coastal strip.. However, it
is sometimes impossible to use traditional ways of getting rid of treated discharges. This
means looking for less conventional systems, using soil/plant/ /aquifer combinations for
disposing of treated water which has not been completely purified. This alternative is
employed when discharges are made in “sensitive areas”, avoiding sophisticated, expensive
treatment methods or in areas without available water courses. These systems have been used
in France and a small plant of this type in Begur (Girona) now waters a poplar plantation and

Once the Sewage Plan is in full operation one will be in a position to judge whether there has
been any real improvement in water quality. Hopes are high in this respect, despite the fact
that measures taken over the last few years have had a rather limited focus (e.g. controlling
the stench of water courses in the Besòs and Llobregat basins). The fact that some of the large
plants only provided physicochemical treatment appears to explain reeking rivers. The
addition of chemical reagents together with other measures in the Summer of 1996 helped
improve matters.

Submarine outfall pipes run out from coastal treatment plants of which there are 11. There is
a clearly established relationship between the treatment of wastewater in the coastal strip and
the quality of bathing water. This is made abundantly clear when there are storms and runoff
mixes with sewage and reaches the sea (the sewage system and outfall pipes are simply
unable to cope with the volume of water) or wastewater is discharged directly because the
plants are unable to treat such dilute water. This is particularly a problem during summer
storms which can pollute bathing water for several days.

The improvement in river water quality also affects beaches and bathing areas near the river
mouths. This is why the river Besòs does not flow directly into the sea during the summer but
rather is routed through the treatment plant sited there, the product water being discharged by
submarine outfall. In a country which is so heavily dependent on tourism, ensuring bathing
water reaches acceptable standards is a must. In this respect the introduction of a “star”
system for rating water quality and the use of boom vessels to rake up flotsam are sensible

Wastewater cannot always be discharged into a river or the sea (either because of distance or
sensitive areas). When there are quality problems with the effluent, alternative systems have
to be employed such as discharge into specific ecosystems, pumping into geological
formations, or letting it evaporate. There are more extreme solutions such as reducing effluent
volume and transporting it far away from the source area. Sometimes the most harmful part
of the effluent is extracted and sent to special treatment plants. This is the case with certain
salt-bearing industrial effluents (from ion exchangers, tanning, etc.) or from reverse osmosis
processes, which are dumped at sea by special tankers.

The sewer network
Urban sprawl and speculation has given rise to unplanned growth of built up areas which
takes up land in river basins, changes natural and man-made drainage systems, and increases
run-off. This is compounded by a lack of sewage system guidelines and profound ignorance
of urban drainage systems (some parts of the sewer system are not on any map). Underground
structures such as underpasses, water, electricity and other utility networks, tube and rail
lines, car parks, etc. provide further difficulties since there is no joint planning. Urban growth
is so fast that a great deal more planning, imagination, and advanced approaches and
alternatives to traditional methods are sorely needed if new sewage systems aren not to
become insufficient very rapidly. In that case, the economic repercussions of this very
important (even though invisible) urban infrastructure would be painfully high.

The sewage system in the Barcelona Region is the responsibility of each municipal authority
(the system in operation throughout of Catalonia and Spain), however treatment is overseen
and initial investments met by the Sewage Commission of the Generalitat (Catalan
Government) with the local office for the Barcelona Metropolitan Area run by EMSSA, that
for the municipalities in the Besòs basin run by the Besòs Consortium, and others. In the
Barcelona Metropolitan Area (33 municipalities with 3.2 million inhabitants) the primary
treatment system is made up of 5 systems based on 5 large treatment plants:

Barcelona Nord (1.6 million inhabitants discharging 600,000 m3/day into the Besòs treatment
  plant. It currently lacks biological treatment methods and will have to treat sludge in the
  future and stop dumping at sea.
Barcelona Sur (1.1 million inhabitants which will discharge into the sewage plant planned for
  El Prat with a capacity of 600,000 m3/day).
Montcada (0.2 million inhabitants, discharging into the Montcada treatment plant with a
  capacity of 72,000 m3/day. No biological treatment).
Gavà-Viladecans (0.15 million inhabitants discharging into the Viladecans treatment plant
  with a capacity of 72,000m3/day).

Urban sewage collection is based on three inter-linked sub-systems: (1) sewage pipes (sewers,
information and control equipment); (2) treatment equipment; and (3) equipment for
discharging treated or untreated effluent and storm surges. The sewage system in the area
collects both sewage and rainwater. Additionally, the separation between household and
industrial wastewater is poor. While some industrial estates have their own treatment or pre-
treatment facilities, most industries discharge their wastewater straight into the city‟s sewage
system. Although there are various regulations governing the discharge of wastewater into the
sewer system, the fact of the matter is that the mixture of pollutants which finds its way to
treatment plants often stops them doing their job properly. The use of the sewage system to
transport both wastewater and rainwater is also a serious problem given that heavy rains
cause overflows and are more than either the sewer pipes or treatment plants can cope with. If
that were not enough, most of the municipal sewer system suffers from smells, network
blockages, subsidence, fractures, flooding, constant extension of the network, environmental
disasters, etc. and has a habit of springing nasty surprises on city dwellers.

The operational problems of the sewage networks are largely a result of the relief and rainfall
characteristics of the area. Human settlements are sometimes perched on steep slopes or
valleys and the least favoured areas, with serious drainage problems. Coastal settlements also
suffer from storms, heavy seas, and sea surges (tidal range in the Mediterranean is extremely
small). The accumulation of sediments at river mouths and at the end of submarine outfalls
also causes problems. A combination of natural factors and man-made ones often makes for
trouble. Reckless building and speculation has led to a significant rise in both the population
and runoff in river basins and altered long-established drainage patterns.

Among the most common shortcomings in the current sewage system is the lack of
collectors in central, coastal and low-lying areas, the existing facilities being unable to keep
up with peripheral urban growth and an increase in population density. This creates areas
highly prone to flooding. Many of the sewer pipes are in a sorry state, which affects ancillary
equipment and produces leaks which seep into surrounding aquifers and damages or destroys
a valuable resource. Finally, the ingrained habit of implementing makeshift solutions has
made for an inflexible network which is poorly prepared to cope with storm runoff. The city
is currently modelling flow volumes in the sewer system in an attempt to deal with the
Table 46
Primary sewage system in the Barcelona Area Primary sewage system in the Barcelona Area
                                       Barcelona (city)         Remaining area
Population (inhabitants)                       1,600,000                1,600,000
Density (inh./km2)                               16,200                    3,300
Sewerage system (km)                              1,450                    1,350
Network coverage (%pop.)                           100                       96
Sewage treatment coverage (%pop.)                   70                       60
Biological treatment (%pop.)                        0                        15
Storm drains                                       134                        ?
Rainfall vol.(hm3/yr)                               33                        ?
Effluent volume (hm3/yr)                           250                      170
Advanced municipal management                      Yes                      No
Sewage shortfall (million pesetas)               53,800                  43,000?
Sewage treatment shortfall (million              33,000                   38,000
Source: CLABSA (Barcelona sewerage company)
4.5 The water budget
Water is vital for survival and for many other human activities. In estimating the supply and
demand for water, one must remember that not all water used in an activity is necessarily
consumed (whether by evaporation, pollution or consumption). A large part of the water used
is returned to water courses or percolates back to aquifers so that it become available to users
further downstream. Thus, if demand is fairly evenly spread throughout the basin and effluent
quality is reasonably acceptable, the demand served is actually higher than the natural
resources available because of re-use. This factor is of critical importance in estimating real
water needs.

Table 47
Forecast of water resources for the Barcelona Area

                               1992                      2002                    2012
Own resources                   556                       643                     652
Received                        211                       181                     181
Available                       767                       824                     833
Source: Catalan Hydrological Plan (APHC, 1993)

Table 48
Changes in urban water use in the Barcelona Area (hm3/year)
                               1991         1992       1993             1994         1995
Ter (Cardedeu)                  216         197         196              205          196
Llobregat (Abrera)               22          19          18               21           22
Llobregat (S.Joan Despí)        100         106          97               76           89
Llobregat (Terrassa)            2.5          2.6        1.9              4.2          4.2
Total                          340.5       324.6        313             306.2        311.2
Source: ATLL data (Ter-Llobregat Water Board)

Water consumption and needs
Average water consumption per capita has fallen from 238 litres/per day in 1991 to 218 in
1995. Urban consumption shows significant seasonal variations depending on weather and
holidays (particularly at seaside resorts) and also shows both weekly and daily peaks and
troughs. The size of municipalities also plays an important role.

Catalan industry uses 3,284 hm3/year, of which 3,071 are used for power station cooling (and
are therefore reusable) and the remaining 213 for other industrial uses. The power generation
industry does not really consume water so much as borrow it, since virtually all the water is
returned to source after heat exchange (only a minute part actually evaporates). Cooling water
for power stations mainly comes from the sea (55.98%) and the river Ebro (44.93%). A mere
0.01% is taken from the water supply system and 0.08% from wells. The biggest remaining
users are the chemical (29.3%); textile (24.7%); foodstuff (17.8%); metalworking (12.1%);
and paper (9%) industries. The remaining 7.2% is used by other industries. Current
consumption of 213 hm3/year is lower than forecast by the APHC in 1993 because of water-
saving initiatives which have benefited from Catalan Government subsidies for this purpose
and the control exercised by the Sewage Board regarding discharges.

Agriculture is a third sector which uses large amounts of water. The Catalan Hydrological
Plan (APHC) gives priority to industrial uses over agricultural ones, the latter occupying fifth
place on the list. According to MOPT (ministry of works), 65% of the 67,945 ha. given over
to agriculture in inland river basins is irrigated using water from aquifers. Current demand is
273 hm3/year (compared with 290 in 1993). The General Metropolitan Plan envisages a
shrinkage in irrigated land in the Baix Llobregat and Delta areas (from 1,052 ha. to 685 ha.
and from 2,968 ha. to 1950 ha. respectively). The Delta is irrigated from the Dreta and Infanta
canals and from wells, although water from the Canal de la Infanta is of very poor quality and
changes in flow volume can often make it unsuitable for irrigation purposes.
Recapitulating the consumption forecasts, AGBAR (municipal water company) foresees the
demand for urban and industrial water in the area at 340 litres per capita/day in the year 2000
(240 for urban use and 100 for industrial use), a little above the 300 litres per capita/day
demanded in 1996. These figures are significantly lower than those in the Hydrological Plan,
which are probably inflated.

In estimating future water resources in the Area, the possible re-use of treated domestic
wastewater should be remembered, together with the trend towards water-saving. The main
concern regarding re-use of water from sewage treatment plants is obviously one of health (it
is essential to eliminate harmful micro-organisms). Effluent treatment needs to be improved
to deal with solids in suspension and kill bacteria and germs. It also needs to strike a balance
between reasonable risk and costs. In a semi-arid country like Catalonia where between 100
and 150 litres/capita per day could be re-used (i.e. over 100 hm3/year) it is essential to
provide both legislation and techniques to make recycling possible.

Aquifers are another source for obtaining more water. The sharp decrease in water drawn
from aquifers, the losses in the distribution system, and the building of infrastructure which
blocks aquifer flows have led to accumulation in the lower sections of the Besòs and
Barcelona plains. The consequent rise in the water table floods basements and underground
infrastructures (a big problem in the underground railway system). This accumulation would
allow 30 hm3/year to be drawn off without over-exploiting aquifers (this includes 9hm3/year
which is currently pumped out of the underground railway system).

Increasing efficiency. Is it necessary to pipe in water from
more rivers?
Neither the Catalan Hydrological Plan nor hydrological planning documents mention the
efficiency of the collection and distribution systems (water losses in Germany have been
brought down to 5% while a 20% loss is considered efficient in Catalonia); the re-use of
treated wastewater; or public awareness campaigns on the need to save water. However,
current levels of demand and growth trends are far below theoretical demand and a long way
from the needs envisaged by the planners‟ programmes. There has actually been a 16% drop
in water demand in the Barcelona Area over the last 20 years. Household consumption has
been static for years at around 259 litres/day (urban, industrial, and services) and industrial
use is steadily falling because companies began introducing water saving schemes once the
price reflected consumption and treatment costs. Industrial consumption is virtually stagnant
and the outlook is for very slight growth. Some studies predict that industrial consumption
may fall by 30%.

The Catalan Hydrological Plan similarly omits the possibility of re-using water which, far
from being a remote possibility, is already happening at many sites and offers even more
interesting opportunities. Sewage plants and networks carry down 374 hm3/year of water to
the sea between the coastal strip between the rivers Tordera and Foix. Of this volume only 61
hm3 is biologically treated but this is just the beginning. At the moment this water is
discharged into the sea and thus completely wasted; it could meet some of the service and
agricultural needs of many coastal areas. About 50% of the water currently thrown away
could be re-used (supposing 15% of urban water is absorbed by services and that these
discharges could also be used for irrigation - as is currently the case on the Costa Brava).
Table 49
Demand, resources, and supply in the river basins and sub-basins in the Barcelona Region according to the Catalan Hydrology Plan. The data is prospective
from 1992 (which is when the statistics were produced). Figures for demand, resources and water budget are in hm.3/year and in litres per capita for supply.
Water consumption for ecosystem maintenance is also shown.

PRESENT (1992)                            DEM.                                                   Prov.                                  Resource
    Basin         Population   Resource   Urban   Tur.   Ind.   Ecol.   Area    Irr.   Total   Urb. + Ind.     Irr.      Water Budget   Quantity
                                 hm3                                                                         m3/ha/yr.
Tordera             171,776       53        17    10     20      0      5,281   24      71        590         4,545          -18
Besòs- Maresme      901,667      180        94    10     36      10     8,435   33     183        395         3,912           -3          80
Alt Llobregat       202,434                 20    0       8      0      1,812   9       37        379         4,967
Anoia               107,807      25         11    0      14      0      1,197   6       31        635         5,013           -6
Baix Llobregat     3,168,824     556       387    0      139     10     5,593   50     586        455         8,940          -30          131
Garraf-Foix         135,623       6         9     10      7      0       391    2       28        323         5,115          -22
2012                                      DEM
Basin             Population   Resource   Urban   Tur.   Ind.   Ecol.   Area    Irr.   Total   Urb. + Ind.     Irr.      Water Budget   Quantity
                                 hm3                                                                         m3/ha/yr.
Tordera             217,628       99       28     10     24      10     5,000   23      95        655         4,600           4
Besòs- Maresme     1,000,239     189      130     10     40      30     8,435   33     243        466         3,912          -54
Alt Llobregat      224,5960                29     0       9      0      1,812   9       47        464         4,967          -47
Anoia               119,590      36        17     0       8      0      1,197   6       31        573         5,013           5
Baix Llobregat     3,698,821     582      518     0      222    100     5,993   50     890        548         8,343         -308
Garraf-Foix         150,270      26        19     10      7      0       391    2       38        474         5,115          -12
Ecosystem                                       Irr.                          Area                                  Water budget
                        Pop.      Resource     ha3.    Urb.   Tur.   Ind.    Irr./ha.   Resource     Irr.   Total
                                    hm3                                                  m3/ha.
Tordera                185,518       53          9      17     10    16      5,281       4,600       24     67           -5
Besòs- Maresme         973,800      180         95      89     10    29      8,435       3,912       33     161         114
Alt Llobregat          218,629                          20     0      8      1,812       4,967        9     37
Anoia                  116,432        25                11     0     12      1,197       5,013        6     28           -3
Baix Llobregat        3,422,330      556        75     312     0     111     5,593       6,000       34     457         174
Garraf-Foix            146,473        6          8      14     5      7       391        5,115        2     28          -14
Source: Narcís Prat

Estimations have been used in the table for a strategy for saving and re-using water and their impact on the water budget. This estimate uses a more realistic
figure for population in the area (under 5 million as per the demographic trends forecast by the National Statistical Bureau). A calculation of urban water
consumption of 250 litres per capita/day for services has also been used and includes industries connected to the city sewerage system. It has also been
assumed that tourist volume will remain steady and more realistic values (20% less) adopted for industry. Irrigation has been left unchanged except for
Baix Llobregat (8,940 hm3/year) which seem excessive and which we have accordingly adjusted downwards to 6,000 hm3/year which, with more efficient
techniques, appears perfectly achievable. The 50% of wastewater currently discharged into the sea and recoverable with suitable treatment has been re-
allocated to each basin on a pro rata basis. The impact on the water budget is clear, with a reduction in the shortfall in smaller basins and a surplus for the
most heavy users. The treated water could thus be redistributed to even out supply and demand differences and avoid the need for new river diversion
Future values for supply and demand of water in the Barcelona Region is the subject of fierce
controversy since the amounts needed will have a great effect on water management methods.
Unfavourable figures for the water budget are used to justify piping in water from yet more
river systems to alleviate the alleged lack of water. However, such schemes should be
considered very carefully, not least because of the social conflict they generate (the case of the
river Ebro) and the serious environmental impact they entail (reduction of flow downstream
from the takeoff point, civil engineering works, etc.). With regard to the project to divert
water from the Rhône, there is an additional very important risk to consider. This river
provides cooling for various French nuclear power stations and a plutonium re-processing
plant. With the dangers this could bring, it is clearly essential to be as careful as possible in
forecasting overall water demand, population trends, and sectoral demand.

In principle it seems unreasonable to keep insisting on diverting water from the Rhône
considering the enormous investment and environmentally destructive engineering works this
would involve. Quite apart from destroying aquatic ecosystems elsewhere, it could also lead
to the invasion of non-native species. The French, it must be said, would be delighted at such
a scheme since they would no longer have to dump water in the Camargue. It would seem
much more intelligent to adopt the 3R‟s preached by traditional environmentalists and which
are now in vogue with modern managers:
Reduce consumption: by repairing leaks in the system, increasing public awareness through
  water-saving campaigns, improving services and supporting industry in the switch to clean
Re-use of unpolluted water (the use of water which has been naturally purified after passing
  through water courses and aquifers means we are in effect already doing this.
Recycle treated water that is currently discharged into the sea.

Only when these policies have been carried out can we really discuss whether or not there is a
water shortage in the Barcelona Area.

The coastal interface
5.1 The coastal strip
The coastal strip can be defined in a number of ways. The definition used here is based on
the physical geography of the area (which provides the most consistent approach). Thus:
the coastal strip is the area influenced by both land and marine phenomena. It is a dynamic
frontier area where land and marine systems both have an influence and it is affected by
environmental, climatic, and man-made factors.

Land use in the coastal strip
The use of the coastal strip for large infrastructures affects the townships around Barcelona.
In the case of Viladecans, there is the port area and other installations. In Prat de Llobregat,
there is the airport, golf course, and Wetland Nature Reserve which have helped stop building
on the coast and the beaches are still fairly natural (although water and sand quality are poor).
The central part of the Barcelona shoreline was restored after the Olympic Games and has
helped provide open spaces and visual relief as well as leisure facilities for city dwellers.
However most of the shoreline is taken up by general services. The port takes up much of the
Southern shoreline. The Northern shoreline is in a very poor state because that is where the
river Besòs reaches the sea. The city plans to rehabilitate the final stretch of the river,
improving the landscape both aesthetically and ecologically.

The Sant Adrià de Besòs township is one of the most blighted coastal areas in the province.
Most of the land is zoned for special infrastructure. This dreary industrial landscape boasts a
thermal power station, an urban waste incinerator and a sewage treatment plant. Apart from
blighting the landscape and taking up a considerable amount of land, this infrastructure also
causes high air pollution levels, hardly an invitation to enjoy the seaside. The mouth of the
river Besòs and the dumping of sewage sludge from the treatment plant produce a giant slick
of not easily biodegradable polluted water laden with organic material, heavy metals and
petroleum hydrocarbons. Despite the agreements signed between the industry, the municipal
authorities and the former Ministry of Works as well as the use of filters and a change in fuels
(to natural gas instead of fuel oil), Sant Adrià is still a thorny urban problem, even though its
beaches have improved to a small extent.

In 5 of the townships, the whole of the shoreline is built up. In Castelldefels, for example, the
entire sea front is taken up by residential use without any regulation of green areas, whether
private or public. One positive factor is that Castelldefels is still free of the kind of
constructions which transform the beach and is one of the few areas in Catalonia where sand
is deposited naturally. This is unfortunately threatened by a project to build a port as part of
the services included in the town‟s general urban plan.

The Badalona shoreline is heavily built up with 37% of the area given over to industrial uses.
The township has begun planning measures to make the area attractive to tourists
(remodelling of the sea front, improving access, facilities and services, spreading sand on the
beach) many of which will be difficult to carry through since the railway line runs just a few
metres away from the beach which is difficult to improve because of regression, causing
about 80% of the sand spread to regenerate the beach to be lost during storms.

At Sant Vicenç de Montalt, 100% of the shoreline is built up, with “traditional” housing next
to newer residential areas. Large blocks of flats and a few hotels are sited in the hilly area of
the township with no regard to rational urban planning, quite apart from being an eyesore.
The N-11 road and railway cut the built-up part off from the coast and make access very
difficult. Roads and railway act as a barrier to beach access in all the Maresme shore line
townships and are a serious obstacle to town planning initiatives and sea front remodelling.

Santa Susanna is an exception to the growing impact of tourism in the county. While 100% of
the town‟s shoreline is zoned for urban uses, a large part has not been built on and is still used
for agricultural purposes. However, the landscape is blighted by blocks of flats in the middle
of fields and two camp sites in the area reveal a trend towards private use of the shoreline.
With 80% of the local population employed in agriculture and facing strong pressure from
land speculators it is to be hoped that the township manages to save its coastline from the
advance of bricks and mortar.

Only 7 townships have a certain amount of land left which has not been built on and for
which one should be profoundly grateful. The reasons for the survival of these remnants vary:
the broken nature of the Sitges shoreline, the value of agricultural land in Calella and Pineda
de Mar; and protection of nature areas and landscapes at Sant Pol.

The coastline in the Barcelona region is built up along practically its entire length. Except for
the townships surrounding Barcelona, the land use is basically for the infrastructure for
environmental protection, power generation and the city port. The main cause of this
transformation of the coastline is the uncontrolled growth of the tourist sector which often
outstrips the area‟s ability to absorb it. In addition to the considerable burden of satisfying
highly seasonal tourism (basically during the summer) there is also the trend towards
purchasing homes in coastal townships.

Beaches: social and recreational use
Beaches in the Barcelona Area are affected by the way they are used by one section of the
population. There are few natural beaches in the area and while there are many city beaches,
these are so full of man-made elements as to make them appear totally artificial. The
indiscriminate proliferation of buildings and infrastructure (largely due to a population shift
to the coast) has been particularly marked in flatter coastal areas, while hillier and rockier
parts of the coast have generally escaped lightly. In some townships along the coastline the
land is already either completely built up or zoned for urban use, in the rest building
speculation seems to be trying to strengthen the tourist industry even further to the detriment
of more traditional local activities.

Table 50

Land zoning in sea front areas in coastal townships

Township                        GI    BUA     ZUU      NUU
Cubelles                        0      32      68        0
Vilanova i la Geltrú            0      71       8       21
Sant Pere de Ribes              0      0      100        0
Sitges                          0      52      7        41
Castelldefels                   0    100       0         0
Gavà                            0      69     31         0
Viladecans                     98      2       0         0
El Prat de Llobregat           81      0      19         0
Barcelona                      73      27      0         0
Sant Adrià de Besòs            77      23      0         0
Badalona                        0    100       0         0
Sant Andreu de Llavaneres       0      61     39         0
Sant Vicenç de Montalt          0    100       0         0
Caldes d‟Estrac                 0    100       0         0
Arenys de Mar                   0      82     18         0
Canet de Mar                    0      71      0        29
Sant Pol de Mar                 0      61     13        26
Calella                         0      77      0        23
Pineda de Mar                   0      68     17        15
Santa Susanna                   0    100       0         0
Malgrat de Mar                  0      57      3        40
Source: NEREO
The figures in the table are percentages classifying   the length of coastline in each township
according to the following categories:
(GI) General Infrastructure;
(BUA) Built Up Area;
(ZUU) Zoned for Urban Use;
(NUU) Not zoned for Urban Use.
Few townships have proved themselves capable of striking a reasonable balance between the
current pattern of development and conservation of the landscape. One of the few exceptions
is Gavà. Although he whole coastline of this township is either built up or zoned for urban
use, the type of architecture permitted maintains large green spaces planted with pines. This
gives a softer look to the area. The maintenance of farmed fields between the coastal strip and
the town centre also lends balance and harmony. This sort of town planning combined with
municipal initiatives for protecting the coastal environment sets an example of how to
manage and improve tourist facilities.

The Maresme coast has undergone a radical change since the 1960‟s. Large blocks of flats
have been built (right on the sea front) to provide accommodation for summer tourists. If this
were not bad enough, a significant proportion of people in the Barcelona Area have chosen
Maresme county for second homes and, increasingly, as their main residence. Some of the
problems affecting these beaches have already been mentioned, one of the most important
being the extent to which they are being destabilised by the building of yacht marinas (a
process which dates back to the 1940s).

The beaches in the Barcelona Area represent an extremely important leisure asset. Urban
beaches are heavily visited, even if only for comparatively short spells. Metropolitan beaches,
which are now being sited further away from urban centres, are visited throughout the
summer, with the highest demand at the weekends. In general both city and metropolitan
beaches are overcrowded. A beach may be considered overcrowded if each user has 4 square
metres or less to himself. On Barceloneta beach (which is not the most crowded) this area
shrinks to 0.6 to 0.4 m2 per person. The Castelldefels beach suffers from the same problem,
placing an insupportable burden on services and infrastructure. The lack of adequate public
transport to more distant beaches merely compounds the problem. The result is roads choc-a-
bloc with private cars. Lack of parking places encourages motorists to park on open spaces
which tend to turn into unattractive wastelands.

The leisure needs of the population make it essential that both bathing water and beach sand
meet the minimum health requirements. Sea water is affected by marine pollution around the
large conurbations along the Mediterranean coast. While Spain‟s entry into the European
Union has improved matters, things are still far from satisfactory. The pollution in the
Barcelona area is particularly significant, especially near Sant Adrià where the river Besòs
reaches the sea and where sewage plants will continue to dump their sludge until the end of
1998. In addition to the normal discharges there is also the danger of damage to the
submarine sewage outlet pipe from heavy shipping traffic along the coast. Bogatell beach and
the Poblenou coastal strip also have their problems. To the South of the city, visitors to the
Prat de Llobregat beaches are accustomed to the stench caused by lack of proper sewage
treatment in the township. Off Maresme county beaches, one can often see a slick of pollution
with all kinds of solid and liquid waste floating just a few metres from the surf line, carried
there by onshore currents. One can only hope that the plans for treating the township‟s waste
water will be swiftly put into practice and a stop put to dumping raw sewage at sea.

The health and aesthetic characteristics of the sand are also worth considering. The cleaning
up of the most disgusting items found on beaches varies considerably. Some of the busiest
beaches close to urban centres are well looked after. The same cannot be said of the more
isolated ones. While considerable effort is put into keeping beaches clean, the sheer number
of people using them makes achieving a satisfactory level of cleanliness very difficult.
Obviously the health issue is much more important than the appearance of beaches. In this
respect the micro-biological quality of the sand is improving.
Table 51

Microbiological quality of beaches in the Barcelona Area (1996)

    County      Excellent         Good      Poor    Very Poor
Barcelonès      6(66.7%)        3(33.3%)     -           -
Baix Llobregat  1(20.0%)        1(20.0%)     -      3(60.0%)
Garraf          11(91.7%)        1(8.3%)     -           -
Maresme         23(85.2%)       4(14.8%)     -           -
     Total      41(77.3%)       9(17.0%)     -       3(5.7%)
Source: Sewage Board

Table 52
Water appearance on beaches in the Barcelona Area (1996)

    County      Excellent         Good       Acceptable      Poor     Very Poor
Barcelonès          -               -         9(100%)          -           -
Baix Llobregat      -               -         2(40%)       2(40%)      1(20%)
Garraf              -            7(58%)       5(42%)           -           -
Maresme             -           12(44%)       15(56%)          -           -
     Total          -          19(35.8%)     31(58.5%)     2(3.8%)     1(1.9%)
Source: Sewage Board

Table 53
Sand appearance on beaches in the Barcelona Area (1996)

    County      Excellent         Good       Acceptable      Poor     Very Poor
Barcelonès          -            2(22%)       6(67%)       1(11%)          -
Baix Llobregat      -            1(20%)       3(60%)           -       1(20%)
Garraf              -            6(50%)       6(50%)           -           -
Maresme             -           19(70%)       8(30%)           -           -
     Total          -          28(52.8%)     23(43.4%)     1(1.9%)     1(1.9%)
Source: Sewage Board

Changes in coastal dynamics: ports and beach regeneration
The balance struck in coastal systems is based on the interaction of land and sea processes.
Rivers transport sediments which provide material for beaches and the sea bed. Sea processes
redistribute these sediments and add new materials. Wave patterns play a crucial role in
transport (factors such as angle of arrival, height, etc. determine their precise action).
Sediments are transported both transversely and longitudinally, the predominant pattern in the
area being of the second type, with material being swept along beaches in a South Westerly

Infrastructure plays an important part in altering coastal processes. Marinas split up beach
morphology, both above and below the water line, changing sediment transport systems and
re-activating movement of the sea bed because of a change in the sediment budget. This in
turn increases turbulence and material in suspension which then affects habitats. Building
fishing ports and marinas also increases deposition of the finest sediments in partly enclosed
areas. This can lead to an accumulation of organic material, depending on the nutrient content
of the sediments.

The groynes which have traditionally been used to retain beach sand are something of an
eyesore and merely pass the problem on to beaches lying to the East. Some of these groynes
have been either completely or partly removed over the last few years, with intermittent sand
replacement used instead.
Table 54
Fishing ports and marinas in the Barcelona area (2 more are currently planned for Badalona
and Sant Adrià)
  County            Port        Moorings                Use                  Situation
Maresme            Arenys           -            fishing, marina
                 Port Balís         -                 marina                     -
                   Mataró        1,071                marina                     -
                 El Masnou       1,081                marina                Extended
               Premià de Mar      930                 marina                Extension
Barcelonès      Port Olímpic      755                 marina                     -
                 Barcelona        409      commercial,fishing,marina Planned extension
Garraf          Port Ginesta     1,064                marina                     -
                   Garraf           -                 marina                Extended
                  Valcarca          -               commercial                   -
                 Aiguadolç        742                 marina                     -
                  Vilanova          -             fishing,marina                 -
Source: Jordi Serra

Beach regeneration (i.e. spreading sand) has frequently been resorted to, particularly in
Maresme county (Vilassar, in contrast, has never done this). Sizeable beach regeneration
operations have been carried out on Barcelona beaches over the last few years, partly to
remodel the area for the Olympics in 1992.
Table 55
Beach regeneration operations in the Barcelona Area
        Section           Project date    Carried out   m3 sand length of beach (m)
Arenys de Mar                1986                        11,926            150
Montgat-Premià               1986                      2,060,000
Premià-Mataró                1987
Montgat-Premià               1987                       153,817
Periodic regeneration        1990                       180,000
Masnou & Malgrat                                         90,000
Balís-Arenys                 1992            1993      3,457,400          4,450
Masnou                       1993            1993       500,000           1,526
Malgrat                      1993            1993       145,000            450
Premià                       1993            1993       610,452           1,276
Mataró                       1993            1994       843,590            800
Malgrat-Sta. Susanna         1994            1994       944,810
Masnou-Montgat               1994            1994       478,699            600
P.Nova Marbella              1987            1988       175,707
P.Marbella                   1987            1988       373,508
P.Bogatell                   1986            1988        69,000            230
P.Nova Icaria                                1988       158,266
P.Barceloneta Llevant                        1991        69,625
P. Nova Marbella             1991            1992        83,554
P.Bogatell                   1991            1992        88,594
P.Nova Icaria                1991            1992        63,200
P.Somorrostro                1991            1992        33,320
P.Barceloneta                1991            1992       139,421            400
Source: Jordi Serra
The results of beach regeneration are not ideal. They are unsuitable for reasons of cost,
geology , biology and leisure use of beaches. While the organisation responsible for these
operations estimates annual sand loss from beaches at 10% of the amount spread, in fact the
amount retained on the beach above the waterline ranges between 0% and 15%. The cost of
replacing beach sand is much above all criteria of what is sustainable and except in a few
isolated cases, yields very disappointing results. Alternative systems with less environmental
impact have proved more effective, such as submerged dykes (examples: the playa de Gros,
San Sebastian and the playa de Las Teresitas, Tenerife). One of the most promising and
innovative measures is instalment of drainage systems along the beach which have no impact
on the environment and are long-lasting. However, the results still remain to be seen.

There are two possible options to deal with the present problem of the change in coastal
dynamics. The first is to seek a new balance, recreating the natural pattern of sediment
transport to the sea and facilitating its movement along the coast. This alternative is untenable
because of cost, use of resources and the regulation of river regimes it would involve (quite
apart from the impossibility of removing existing urban development). The second option is
to design a coastline and strike a balance which takes man and his works into account. This
option requires much greater knowledge of the existing state of affairs. Such information
could then serve as the starting point for integrated management of the coast agreed upon by
all public bodies - a notion which has never yet been considered.
5.2 Coastal waters: discharges and diffuse pollution
The land-sea boundary is one of the most difficult areas to manage given the various social
and economic activities which take place there (fishing, tourism, industry). Population density
is often highest along the coast. Coastal systems next to large cities suffer the biggest changes
in their ecosystems and large quantities of urban and industrial waste water are often
discharged to sea either untreated or using only limited physicochemical methods.

Polluting agents
The pollutants finding their way into the coastal waters of the Barcelona Region are either
highly toxic or persistent. They include polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (from dumping of
fossil hydrocarbons or from combustion), persistent toxic organic compounds
(polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), dibenzo-p-dioxins (PCDDs) and dibenzo-p-furans
(PCDFs)), synthetic pesticides (organic chlorates (hexachloro-benzene, lindane, DDT),
stannous organic compounds, alkyl and aryl phosphates). PCBs escape into the environment
as a result of accidents with electrical transformers, as their only use is as dielectric agents in
closed circuits, they are being replaced by alkyl and aryl phosphates, which degrade more
easily. Organic chlorate pesticides (DDT, dieldrin, hexachlorobenzene, etc.) are no longer
used, although residues are still found in farming land and these are leached out by erosion
and reach the sea. Organic tin compounds are used as biocides (anti-fouling paint for boat and
ship hulls, agriculture) and as stabilising compounds in PVC. PCDDs and PCDFs are mainly
produced as by-products of combustion (incinerators, vehicle exhausts) or industrial
processes (paper mills, chlorophenol and phenoxy acids).

Other pollutants which are worth considering as trace molecules from urban pollution are
faecal steroids (coprostanol) and surfactants (trialkylamines, alkyl benzenes, and sulphonated
alkyl benzenes). The use of molecular trace substances is useful in determining whether
certain pathogens are present. Although these tracers are not toxic, they are found in the
environment in significant quantities. Some trace minerals are toxic and are accumulated in
the body (Pb, Cr, Cu, Cd, As, Hg, and Ni). Nutrients have not been considered here since the
Mediterranean does not suffer from algal blooms, unlike the Adriatic and the Black Sea.

Water quality has been analysed by separately examining three sections of the water column:
(1) the surface microlayer (approximately 1mm thick); (2) the sub-surface layer (2-5 metres
from the surface), separating the dissolved and particle phases; and (3) the nepheloid or
cloudy layer (1-5m from the sea bed). Suspended and sedimentary particles in the water
column were also analysed. This sampling strategy is based on the fact that chemical
pollutants are heterogeneously and dynamically distributed in marine environments.
Sediments provide a broader view of pollutants over time while water samples provide
snapshots. Organisms provide information on the bio-availability of pollutants.

Sources of pollution
The coast of the Barcelona Region receives a large volume of pollutants from a wide variety
of sources. Among the point sources are the river mouths near the Sant Adrià de Besòs
sewage treatment plant which treats 60% of the city‟s wastewater and all sewage from Sant
Adrià de Besòs, Santa Coloma de Gramenet, Badalona, Montgat, and Tiana. The plant also
treats luxates from the Garraf rubbish tip. The treated effluents are discharged to sea through
two submarine outlets. The wastewater is discharged 3km offshore at a flow rate of 4.5 m3/s.
Sewage sludge is dumped 4km offshore in 55m of water, the annual volume coming to some
14,000 tonnes (wet weight) a year. The effect of this dumping between 1980 (when the
practice began) and 1988 was a submarine deposit 1km long, reaching a height of 2.5 m in its
centre. The current size of this sludge field is unknown. The volume of organic pollutants
spewed out by the sewage plant is roughly twice the flow volume of the river Besòs.

The Llobregat is another significant source of coastal pollution. Although its waters are less
polluted than those of the Besòs, its flow volume is higher and, according to data furnished by
the Department of the Environment, 60% of its urban wastewater goes untreated. While 90%
of wastewater from the Tordera and Foix rivers is treated, their low flow volumes means their
relatively clean waters have little effect on coastal pollution. The same is true of torrents from
the Garraf, where 80% of wastewater is treated. The Maresme rivers, in contrast, are very
heavily polluted, with untreated sewage discharged straight into water courses. One can only
hope that the three sewage plants currently being built and the other three being planned will
remedy this situation.

Other pollution sources to be noted are the two thermal power stations and two waste
incinerators sited along the coast (which still fail to meet EU Directives on air pollution).
Emission values ranging from 1.7 to 27.18 ng/m3 I-TEQ have been detected although the
directive sets a limit of 0.2ng/m3 I-TEQ.

A final group of point pollution sources are the large number of ports and marinas along the
coast which not only release sewage into the sea but also combustion products, mineral oils,
lubricants, and anti-fouling agents. Tributyl Tin (TBT) is freely used in Spain despite its
known toxicity and the fact that more enlightened countries have either restricted or
forbidden its use. Derivatives of this compound have been found in sediments in the port of
Barcelona and in the water at the port of Masnou.

The most important sources of diffuse pollution are the luxates from urbanised areas and land
erosion and are particularly significant during periods of heavy rain when the treatment
plants are unable to cope with flow volumes. These variations make sampling strategies
complicated to work out, but high pollution levels have been found along the Poblenou
coastal zone.

Water quality
The most polluted waters are generally those near the Sant Adrià de Besòs sewage treatment
plant outlet and offshore from Poblenou. The level of individual pollutants varies.
Organochlorides are extremely toxic and ubiquitous in the marine environment. Although
these may come from local sources, the bulk come from the river Besòs and the Sant Adrià
sewage treatment plant and are carried to the southwest by the predominating currents. The
concentration of these pollutants according to literature on the subject coincides with that
found in moderately polluted coastal areas.

Fourteen polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) have been found, most of which are
mutagenic or carcinogenic. Almost all of them come from the heavy shipping and leisure
craft traffic in the area and show peaks in the summer months. LABs (linear alkylbenzenes)
are present in small quantities in the commercial surfactants extensively used in household
detergents. Their appearance around the submarine outlets and sewage sediments means that
although the sludge is dumped in 50m of water (approximately 27 fathoms) the organic
contaminants float to the surface because it is less dense than seawater. Moreover, the
concentration of these substances at depth must be at least an order of magnitude greater than
that found at the surface, with peak concentration at the sludge dumping site.

Table 56
Annual volume (kilograms) of organic pollutants discharged by the sewage sludge outlet (EF)
of the Sant Adrià del Besòs sewage plant (SAB)* and by the river Besòs**
               PAHs LABs TAMs Coprostanol
EF-SAB           10       38     815         970
river Besòs     0.14     0.37    1.2         7.6

Source: Josep Maria Bayona
PAHs: Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons
LABs: Lineal alkylbenzenes
*Estimates based on the concentration in sludge dumped
Solid concentration has been estimated at 5% (weight/volume)
**Estimate based on the concentrations of dissolved and particles phases and the average
river flow rate volume of 2.5m3/s (January-May and October-December).

Faecal pollution is very extensive throughout the Mediterranean even on the open sea. It
occurs all along the coast which indicates a large number of sources, with peak levels found
off Poblenou, the Sant Adrià sewage outlet and the mouth of the river Besòs. Trace element
levels (Pb, Cr, Cu, Cd, and Ni) are of the same order of magnitude as those found in the river
Besòs. The river and the sewage plant produce most of this pollution, particularly Cr and Pb.
The peak levels are found in the surface layers close to the submarine outlet, showing that
some of the dumped sludge is stirred up from the bottom.

The marine sediments along the coastline contain high concentrations of pollutants, with hot
spots near the Sant Adrià sewage plant, the river Besòs, and off Poblenou. There are also
aliphatic hydrocarbons and aromatic hydrocarbons. The former are produced by the use of
fossil fuels. The latter appear in the sediments near the sewage plant and come from lubricant
oils and fuel spills. Those off Poblenou are pyrolytic compounds from vehicle exhaust
emissions. The levels of these polycyclic hydrocarbons are comparable to those found in
highly polluted areas.

Synthetic organic compounds found include organochlorinated compounds from the
decomposition of DDT, demonstrating just how long this pesticide remains in the
environment. Hexachlorobenzene is also found, with peak levels at the Bogatell submarine
outlet which clearly points the finger at industry. The sediments at Poblenou contain high
levels of dioxins and furanes (although the most toxic forms are absent), highly mutagenic
nitrosamines++ (probably emitted by vehicle exhausts) and organic tin compounds. Faecal
pollution is present in the sediments, with particularly high levels in the outer part of the port
of Barcelona. Its distribution coincides with that found in seawater, confirming that it comes
from a wide range of sources.

Trace elements were studied during the 1980‟s in the sediments of all the river deltas of the
Region. High concentrations of Hg, Cd, Pb, Ni and V were found in the Tordera, Besòs,
Llobregat, and Foix rivers. Later studies focusing on the Barcelona area revealed the river
Besòs and sewage plant outlets as the main sources of the pollution.
Pollution not only endangers ecosystems but also threatens human health because it may get
into the food chain. Studies in the area show that organochlorates, aliphatic hydrocarbons and
aromatic compounds get into the food chain in varying quantities depending on the species
studied. Surfactant residues show up in annelid worms and bivalves which concentrate these
substances in their and have even shown up in fish. Very high concentrations of organic tin
compounds have been detected in bivalves in the port of Barcelona and recent studies
indicate that this pollution is passed on further up the food chain.

Table 57
Concentration of organic tin (butyls and phenyls) in various ports in Catalonia (1988)

                          Water               Sediments                      Bivalves
                         (ng/L)                 (mg/g)                        (mg/g)
 Compound El Mansnou Barcelona El Masnou Barcelona                   El Masnou Barcelona
   Butyls1      100-350         20-100   0.1-2       0.01-9            n.a.         0.2-2.6
   Phenyls1
                  50-100          10-30  0.05-4      0.01-0.5           n.a.         0.02-1
Source: Josep Maria Bayona
  Mono, di- and tri- alkyl tin compounds
5.3 Coastal biology: Distribution and problems
The coastal strip acts as an interface between land and marine ecosystems. It can produce
considerable material and energy interchanges, particularly in the most dynamic areas such as
wetlands, estuaries or coastal lagoons.

Coastal zones
Marine organisms are distributed in zones which succeed one another depending on a
complex combination of gradients of humidity, temperature, light, and nutrient availability, et
The supralittoral zone lies above the high tide line on sandy beaches or rocky bedrock,
permanently above water. It is inhabited by a few species of organisms that are rarely
submerged and prosper with the aid of the humid atmosphere and the organic nutrients
supplied from the land side. Beaches which seem deserted are in fact inhabited by amphipods
(sand-hoppers, etc.), a few species of beetles and gastropods (slugs and snails). On rocky
beaches there are lichens, blue-green algae (Cyanophyceae), sea acorns (Chthalamus),
gastropods (Littorina) and isopods (Ligia).
The middle beach zone is defined by the upper and lower limits of the water movement and
creatures in this area require frequent immersion. The upper part of this zone begins where
such immersion is infrequent. In this area one can find Chthalamus, cyanophytes and lichens
together with marine animals such as limpets (Patella), mobile, herbivorous gastropods
(Littorina, Monodonta). The most frequently found algae are Rissoella verruculosa which is
occasionally replaced by other species: Ralfsia, Nomoderma, Enteromorpha, Bliningia, etc.
The lower section of the middle beach zone begins where immersion is frequent. In this
section of the beach one can find Lythophyllum tortuosum, Rissoella verruculosa,
cyanophytes and nitrophilic algae. The most important herbivores are pelagic fauna, snails
and Lepidochitona.

The lower beach zone marks the beginning of the sea environment, with practically
continuous submersion. This zone extends to a depth of 12-15m and is characterised by the
presence of photophilic seaweed and fields of marine flowering plants. Photophilic seaweeds
form dense populations distributed in various vertical strata which can be compared to the
structure found in a wood, except here the depth from undergrowth to the highest crowns is
just 30 cm. The upper strata generally consists of fronds of Cysoseira and other highly
productive pheophytic plants with epiphytic algae and colonising animals on their thalluses
(bryozoa, hydrozoa, etc.). There is bush-like growth below this strata (with algae belonging to
Cladophora, Halimeda, Hydraria, etc.) and rock clinging species (calcareous algae, sponges,
bryozoa, mussels, etc.). The productivity and richness of this marine forest supports an
equally varied animal community of herbivores, carnivores, filter feeders, scavengers,
decomposers+, detritus eaters and carrion eaters. Although most of the macro-fauna is
invertebrate there are also fishes, particularly gobies and blennies.

It is in this zone that a typically Mediterranean species, Posidonia oceanica, is to be found.
This flowering plant has sheaves of large ribbon like leaves 1m long and grows in undersea
meadows starting just below the surface to 40m deep (depending on the amount of light and
thus influenced by water clarity). Posidonia meadows capture particles in suspension and
stabilise sediments, providing a haven for a wide range of marine organisms. Excess weed is
swept on to beaches (providing food and refuge to animals in the upper and middle beach
zones as well as in the depths). Posidonia‟s important ecological role has led to its legal
protection in various Mediterranean countries including Spain. Other species of
Mediterranean water plants (Cymodocea, Zostera, Ruppia) form undersea meadows in
estuaries and other coastal areas but these species do not play as important a role as

Shadow-loving algae appear where the Posidonia meadows peter out, marking the beginning
of the coastal circulation zone. They appear similar to the forests of light-loving algae but
contain less strata and are less dense. There is also a higher strata (Cystoseira, Halopteris,
Codium and Sphaerococcus) with encrusted strata (coralline algae) and an intermediate one
(Haimeda and Udotea). The coastal circulation zone has few plants. The shadowy light
means plants grow more slowly and are 10-20% less productive than in the stratum
immediately above. The coraline community provides a haven for many animals. The
substrate is formed by the accumulation of residues from large quantities of calcareous
organisms (Lithophyllum, Mosophyllum, Psyssonnelia, etc.) covering soft (gravels) or hard
(rock) substrates, themselves also covered by other algae, individual and colonising animals
with calcareous skeletons (sponges, molluscs, crustaceans, sea nettles, polychaeta, etc.). This
produces organic “constructions” some 1-2 m deep of uneven growth and shape, full of
crevices in which small creatures can make their home. Against this constructive activity one
should set the destructive action of other species (sponges, polychaeta, bivalves, etc.) which
drill, dissolve and disorganise these structures. Like a city in permanent transformation, there
is a constant process of demolition and rebuilding at work. Although primary production of
coral is limited, the superimposition of a host of micro-habitats produces considerable
diversity and richness of animal life. Algae and animal colonise the coral to form highly
stratified ecosystems. The species in the upper strata include Eucinella, Paramuricea, etc.,
other sea nettles, sponges, colonial polychaeta, bryozoons, etc.

In addition to the zones mentioned above, other less diverse but locally productive
communities may appear at any depth. These may appear on sandy or muddy bottoms, often
at depth and include crustaceans, molluscs, sea horses, flatfish, and other animal species
many of which are of commercial interest (fish, bivalves, crustaceans, decapods (shrimps,
lobsters, crabs, etc.) squid, octopus, angler fish, etc.).

The effects of dumping, sand dredging and fishing
One of the many actions of man with a negative effect on coastal animal and plant
communities is the dumping of contaminants. Polluted water has a temporary effect on
plankton which can repopulate from other species, providing the pollution is not persistent.
Discharges including excessive nutrients cause eutrophication (growth explosion) and
dystrophication can follow, typified by algal blooms which grow to the detriment of
everything else. This is the cause of the “red tides” which affect filter feeders who pass the
toxins up the food chain. The water is also increasingly affected by a gelatinous growth
caused by excessive nutrients promoting the growth of phytoplanktonic algae, particularly
diatoms, which produce polysaccharides. This gelatinous substance is deposited on the sea
floor and harms bottom dwelling species, damages fishing grounds, and is unpleasant for
bathers. Local putrefaction occurs when organic material and nutrients from sewage and other
wastewater accumulate in the middle beach zone.

The biological response of animal and plant communities to organic pollution is complex and
consists of various stages. The duration and intensity of the pollution determines the course of
events which may include: impoverishment of the fauna; the appearance of species indicating
pollution; persistence of degraded communities; and, in the worst case, their complete
disappearance. The mean level of organic pollution along the Catalan coast (with the glaring
exception of the Besòs and Llobregat river mouths) is slightly higher than the average for
surface water in the Mediterranean, being a little more mesotrophic and nutrient-laden than is
generally the case.

Sewage sludge from the Sant Adrià treatment plant serves as a substrate for some species
Capitella capitata and Malacoceros fulginosus worms and the crustacean Iphione
rhodaniensis have very high concentrations of some of the toxins present in the sludge. These
pollutants are further concentrated further up the food chain and are present at dangerous
levels in the fish and molluscs in the area, which may be eaten by humans. Unfortunately, this
deposit of toxic sludge is not the only one along the coast. There are also deposits off the
mouths of the Besòs and Llobregat rivers, off Bogatell beach, and in the dredged areas of the
port. Even if all sewage along the Barcelona coast was properly treated and the practice of
dumping sludge ended, the existing deposits would remain toxic for a long time until natural
sedimentation (low in the area) eventually covered them.

So-called “beach renovation” programmes have a serious environmental impact on the coast.
This negative effect is not only felt where the sand is dredged up from the sea bottom but also
in the surrounding area and on the beaches themselves. The sea bed from which sand is
extracted, becomes muddy and the animal and plant communities which live there are
changed. This occurs because the coarser sand is replaced by fine or muddied sand which is
less stable and more poorly stratified. The sand dumped on the beach is carried off by the first
autumn storm and muddies the water because its grain size is much finer than that naturally
deposited by wave action and because the “renovated” beach has the wrong slope and
drainage. Inadequate beach drainage arising from sand dumping produces an unholy stench
and encourages the growth of viscous algae, making the beach wholly unsuitable for leisure
purposes. Last but not least, removing sand from the sea bed seriously damages ecosystems.
Under natural conditions there is a progression in grain size with coarser sand on the surface
of the sea bed and finer sand beneath. When the sand dumped on beaches is swept back to sea
it is deposited in the circulation zone, burying plant and animal communities or leading to
their displacement by others better adapted to the new grain size of the sand. This burial is
particularly grave when it affects fauna of great ecological value, such as Posidonia. In
addition the “beach renovation”, just like any other construction project on the shoreline,
increases the amount of fine material in suspension, cutting light to the sea bed and
encouraging the displacement of deep water species towards the surface.

Fishing has increased exponentially since the beginning of the century and has had a serious
impact on the marine environment in general and on the coast in particular. Fishing of pelagic
species (those living in the water column) and bottom dwellers is particularly intense.
Trawling with seine nets damages fishing grounds because it disturbs the sea bed,
impoverishing the ecosystem, leading to the loss of the most valuable species and the
proliferation of less commercially viable ones. Fishing disputes and restrictions in Portuguese
and Moroccan fishing grounds have led to overfishing in the Mediterranean with ever smaller
catches, smaller fish, and greater use of seine nets. Meadows of Posidonia oceanica are
particularly vulnerable to these fishing techniques.

Protection measures
Twenty years ago the U.N. presented an action plan for the Mediterranean and one of the first
results was the Barcelona Convention (Anti-Pollution Agreement for the Mediterranean),
signed in 1976 by those countries with a Mediterranean coastline. Twenty years is a long time
and it was decided to revise the agreements and legal instruments in 1995. Twenty countries
met in Barcelona to sign a new agreement: the Mediterranean Protection Agreement. This
included: integrated management of coastlines; nature and biodiversity conservation;
employment of cutting edge technology to reduce pollution; and the greatest care in
eliminating dangerous substances. Instead of drawing up a black list (as in the case of the
previous agreement) of chemical compounds which could not be discharged into or dumped
at sea, a white list was produced which listed those few natural substances which could be
safely discharged. The new agreement also established species which could be fished and
those which were endangered. The agreement was based on the concept of sustainable
development which emerged from the 1992 World Summit in Rio de Janeiro. It also
incorporated two groups of instruments to give it teeth: an effective legal framework and state
institutional and financial involvement to make it viable.

However, the agreement came into force comparatively recently and the underlying causes of
the continuing degradation of the Mediterranean coast have yet to be tackled. These causes

Overfishing and abuse of biological resources, aggravated by the general crisis in European
  fisheries. The over-occupation of coastal areas allied to civil engineering works aimed at
  restoring the old balance (such as receding beaches and deltas). The use of coastal areas,
  dunes, and wetlands, and the demand for water and other scarce resources by the tourist
  and leisure industries. Pollution from agriculture, industry, mining, and uncontrolled urban
The partial and weak-willed protection given to miniscule areas scattered along the
  Mediterranean coast does not guarantee the conservation of the biota and natural plant and
  animal communities nor of those already being exploited.
How can development and conservation be combined? One should remember the following
  principle: development in the coastal strip should not exclude conservation - both
  activities are compatible providing a co-ordinated policy is followed, rather than the
  current separate and often incompatible policies of local, autonomous, and state bodies. Of
  all human activities which damage the coastal environment, perhaps the worst is the
  construction of yacht marinas and similar building works, as these are permanent large-
  scale emplacements. A moratorium is urgently required so that the necessity for these
  structures, as well as the urbanisation and ecological degradation they cause, can be
  debated and their ecological impact weighed in the balance.

Some environmental resources, such as the coastal strip, must be globally managed. This is
vital from a socio-ecological point of view, since the region is complex and has many sectors
depending on it. One proof of this complexity is the large number of ministries, regional and
local government departments with authority in the matter, although, unfortunately, there is
virtually no co-ordination between them. The recent history of industrial, tourist, fishing, and
leisure development in both Catalonia and Spain is full of conflicts between interested parties
who use coastal resources to a greater or lesser degree. All too often, the struggle is between
narrow special interests and the common good: a submarine outlet discharging sewage and
wastewater close to public beaches; a yacht marina which is an eyesore and harms animal and
plant communities in the area, producing currents and sand deposition patterns that damage
beaches and ecosystems down current; overfishing in both deep and shallow waters and
illegal seine trawling in protected areas; profligate use of water which lowers coastal water
tables and leads to increasing soil salinity as sea water seeps inland.

These are just a few of the events which continue to occur despite greater public sensitivity
towards the environment and the number of complaints from large sectors of the population.
Both Catalan and State legislation has tended to regulate many of the practices whose
secondary effects cause most harm to the environment or to public health and it would be fair
to say that there has been a slight improvement over the last ten years. The 1988 Coastal
Development Law (La Lei de Costes) is perhaps the most important law affecting human
activity along the coastal strip, although, as with all laws that try to cover every eventuality, it
deals with generalities and omits essential details, it also has virtues, including the fact that all
types of coastal development are covered by this law which takes precedence over other
legislation limited either to specific types of development or by geographical area.

This breadth of scope fits in with the global management needed if the coastline and the
public good are to be effectively defended against the desires of special interests. This is
precisely why the law forbids that anything be built within one hundred metres of the
shoreline and imposes other limitations on local planning schemes. The need for global (or
regional) planning over local planning should be emphasised at this time, when many
autonomous communities, among them Catalonia, are demanding their own coastal planning
laws. This would not matter if the spirit of the existing law is preserved; but coastal
protection must not be allowed to disappear under local or regional urbanistic regulations
dependent on municipal authorities and subject to change; both now and in the past this type
of management has been responsible for many disasters to the land and the ecology.

Consideration of integrated management of coastal region gives us a first concept for
resolving some of the problems of the Barcelona coast. The second concept is quite simple
and can be backed up by any number of case studies: environmental problems have deep and
often distant roots so that solving the visible part of the problem often has little more than a
cosmetic effect. A third concept is the need for plans to be in accordance with available
resources, rather than hypothetically perfect and untenable for reasons of cost. All coastal
region planning should necessarily be based on the concept of sustainable development, just
as any self-respecting architect calculates ground loading before planning a building. Finally,
planning must be the medium to long term instead of the short-sighted view all too common
here (the General Regional Plan for Catalonia being a case in point). In short, all planning in
general and that of coastal regions in particular needs to be rationally based.

Landscape ecological structures and
continental biology
6.1 The environmental landscape
Landscape is the visual aspect of a region. Until recently the notion of landscape was largely
confined to the art world and had strong aesthetic overtones. A landscape suggested a painting
or perhaps postcard. Landscape disciplines have radically changed this perception.

It is now thought that a landscape is any part of a region whether natural or influenced by
man. In other words, it is a set of physical and functional reference points which can be seen
as a unit. Landscape reflects the local environment, including man‟s activities over time
(there are extremely few places on earth which have not be moulded by man in one way or
another). One can therefore say that landscape as a concept is basically a socio-ecological

The creation of the landscape
The current landscape is the result of over 7,000 years of man‟s interaction with his
environment. Palaeontology studies around Barcelona reveal an environment very different
from that of today. The studies reveal constant changes in the landscape over time,
particularly the advance and retreat of woodland depending on man‟s activities. The use of
fire to clear pastures, together with rises and falls in population, decisively influenced the
local vegetation. Tiny human settlements of hunter-gatherers who supplemented their diet
with primitive farming and herding occupied the area around 5000 B.C. What is now
Barcelona was then covered by mixed woodland, mainly oak, holm oak (ilex), cork oak,
chestnut and a number of other species such as white maple. White pines populated the
coastal strip (especially the dunes) and there were small forest clearings in oak and beech
woodland. There were also important woodland areas along river banks, with willow, alder,
ash, and poplar.

The Roman period saw significant changes to this landscape, although it is still unclear
whether the accentuation of the mediterranean climate with dries summers was responsible,
or whether it was due to the effects of the massive deforestation which occurred in this
period. During this period ilex replaced oak trees and mixed woodland, while deforested
areas broadened, as did areas of pine woods. This deforestation became even more marked
during the Middle Ages and oak woods practically disappeared while holm oak woods
remained in only the highest and least accessible parts of the neighbouring mountain ridges
such as Collserola and Ordal. The survival of the forest there may also be due to the distance
from the city and problems in transporting timber. By the beginning of the 20th century the
Barcelona area was virtually denuded of trees with just a few replanted pine and holm oak
woods in the Montseny, Montnegre and other massifs which supplied the charcoal industry.

The 1950s saw a recovery in wooded areas, with pines sprouting up as vineyards were
abandoned and grazing areas shrank. The re-colonisation of the area by pines reached a peak
in the 1980‟s and 90‟s. What happened on the Barcelona plain is also generally true for the
rest of the region, except that beech (and in the case of Montseny, silver fir) played a much
more important rôle in higher areas. Throughout the region the most important woodland
would have been a mixture of oaks with holm oak, cork, chestnut and a few less common
species. Pines are currently gaining ground on holm oak and oak, depending on soil
conditions and aspect. Oaks are particularly important in shaded areas and along the banks of
streams, while pines predominate in sunny areas, with holm oak showing in limited numbers.
Bearing in mind the soil loss over the last 2000 years and the trends in woodlands that have
not suffered from excessively frequent fires, one can say that the landscape potential of the
area today is not so different from that one which pollen studies indicate existed 7,000 to
8,000 years ago.

Types of landscape
The modern landscapes of most countries and of all industrialised countries, have been
shaped by the hand of man. The process began centuries ago as agriculture and herding took
hold. Agriculture produced clearings, terraces, meadows, cropping, and copses, etc. More
recently buildings and infrastructure have come to dominate the landscape. The new
landscape (or cityscape) plays a key socio-ecological rôle, however one should not lose sight
of the fact that traditional rural activities and, more recently, modern agribusiness have
significantly contributed to this transformation.
The forest landscape
Woodland makes up around 20% of the total Barcelona Area. Forests are dominated by pines
which make up over 90% of the wooded area. There are also holm oaks, cork oak and oak
mixed in. The holm oaks make up no more than 5% of the area and oaks about 0.2%,
probably because these species are much more vulnerable to grazing animals who may stop
regrowth of these trees altogether.

In general, the woodlands in the Barcelona Area are young ecosystems stemming from
secondary growth which has progressively re-colonised fields and meadows. White and
Mediterranean pines predominate, these being opportunistic species which quickly establish
themselves in poor and impoverished soils. Normally these pine woods are poorly developed
with a narrow range of tree sizes and ages. They are often very dense and grow very slowly
given the fierce competition for space and light. With regard to holm oak and oak, these trees
are generally stunted and dotted among pines and white pines. They are almost all the product
of re-growth from plants felled for the charcoal industry up until the 1960‟s. Holm oaks (ilex)
springing up beneath the pine canopy are starved of light and nutrients by their faster-growing

The forest area shrank by over 6,000 ha. between 1982 and 1989. The biggest decline was in
Vallès Occidental, the Maresme and Vallès Oriental counties while other areas showed a
slight growth in woodland area. From the purely aesthetic point of view, the woodlands seem
homogenous and greatly enhance the landscape. The Barcelona region has few forestry
plantations or planted areas of exotic species so that the woods appear relatively “natural”.
The distorting elements are the straight lines of cutting to put up power lines and the housing
estates built in woodland which almost always stand out like sore thumbs because of their
whitewashed walls.

Woodland ecosystems include maquis and scrub, which often cover large areas. These plant
communities are always the first to become established after a forest fire. Low scrub is
usually found on calcareous soils and takes up areas formerly occupied by pines. It is also be
found on other soils but clearly predominates in the Karst areas of Garraf. Brush grows in
deeper soils and is found during the first stage of recovery of pine woods and of mixed woods
of oak, pine, and ilex. A given frequency of forest fires (for example one every 7 or 8 years)
can completely wipe out pine trees and favour the reestablishment of certain species of
brushwood, such as heath, strawberry trees, oaks, ilex, etc.

The agricultural landscape
 The agricultural landscape is also very diverse. It ranges from market gardens in the
Llobregat and Tordera deltas to vineyards, nut, olive and almond orchards, grain fields in
Vallès and Garraf, fruit orchards in Baix Llobregat, the flower and pot-plant greenhouses, and
the allotments and strawberry fields in Maresme county. In the last few years, there has been a
certain abandonment of agricultural activity in mountainous areas and on the fringes of cities,
industrial infrastructures, housing and industrial estates. Where the area is bordered by
woodland, the trees quickly colonise abandoned land. Otherwise these areas become barren
open spaces forming a strip between buildings/infrastructures and farming land. These
wastelands are frequently used to graze seasonal flocks of sheep until converted for other use.
Between 1982 and 1989 farming land shrank from 72,821 to 57,866 ha., a drop of 25%.

There are important changes in the landscape even in those areas where farming continues.
The increasing mechanisation of agriculture and use of heavy machinery has forced a move
towards larger fields, ripping out hedgerows and trees which border adjoining smaller fields
(i.e. the kind of rural vandalism encouraged by MAAF policies in Britain). The use of larger
fields means earth moving, creating taluses and gaps which have a big impact on the
landscape. This is worsened by the fact that these taluses are seldom re-colonised by plants
and hence suffer from erosion. The adoption of intensive farming methods has led to the
general use of herbicides and insecticides, wiping out or massively reducing the number of
wild plant species which were common in the area up until the 1970s. Finally, areas under
glass grow in response to pressures to extend the growing season (particularly true in
Maresme, Baix Llobregat, and Vallès Oriental counties).

Small illegal market gardening plots sprang up in the twilight zone between farming areas,
the city and the infrastructures during the 1970s. These plots were almost always sited on
public land between infrastructures, either by the side of railway lines, roads, or next to
hydraulic schemes or in their area of influence. These plots often had a big impact on the
landscape with jerry-built fences and huts thrown together from old mattresses, sheets of
corrugated iron or plastic. These miserable huts spread into miniature shanty towns which
served as weekend retreats and a place to cook up Sunday lunch. Some municipal authorities
have sought imaginative solutions to these sordid spots which not only blight the landscape
but also tend to produce social and health problems.

Permanent pastures occupy a tiny proportion of the area, reaching a low of 0.8% at the end of
the 1980s (figure for 1989) with just 2,082 ha. Oddly enough, there was an increase in
pastures around 1982 in Alt Penedès, Baix Llobregat, Barcelonès, Maresme, and Vallès
Occidental counties, while the area in Vallès oriental shrank. This was probably land where
farming had been abandoned but where the owner wanted (at least in theory) to keep it for
pasture. These pastures were often on public land, part of river plains and beds, or on waste
land where planning permission has been granted for housing and industrial estates.

The transitional strip between farming and urban/industrial landscapes is one where
agriculture has been abandoned because of changes in land ownership and land speculation
encouraged by zoning regulations. Although it may be a very long time before these areas are
finally built on, they quickly suffer from urban blight.

The coastal landscape
The majority of beaches have been altered and are artificial. Beach and dune vegetation and
fauna have virtually disappeared. The only exceptions are in the Llobregat and Tordera deltas.
Recent initiatives in the Llobregat delta have helped to conserve and recover some of this

The Prat de Llobregat municipal authorities have limited public access to certain areas of the
beach, by channelling the public into one specific path through the dunes and areas of beach
vegetation and the sand cleaning strip has been restricted. This has yielded spectacular results
in just four years. In the Gavà township a sea walk has been built which respects dune areas
and vegetation and has helped conserve a significant part of beach and dune plant
communities. With these exceptions, the beach landscapes of the region are much more
artificial with built up areas close to the shoreline.

The salt flats which probably occupied a fair part of the coastal strip behind the dune line
have only survived as a few remnants in the Llobregat delta. These are close to the mouth of
the river on land set aside for port expansion or in the few nature reserves. They occupy a
very small area.

River and wetland landscapes
The rivers present depressing landscapes and are ecologically impoverished. The situation in
the Tordera and Foix rivers (which are further away from the Barcelona conurbation) is
somewhat better, but even so, the lower part of the Tordera, close to the river mouth is highly
artificial and the woodlands which used to line the river banks have been replaced by cane
breaks. The middle and upper reaches of the river, however, are relatively well-conserved and
there would seem to be good chances for recovery. The upper reaches of the Besòs and
Llobregat are in relatively good condition but both their biological characteristics and
landscape deteriorate rapidly downstream. Some stretches of these rivers are practically dead
and very heavily polluted, although there are some signs of an improvement. The Besòs has
lost all its typical bank vegetation and in its middle stretch already runs between
embankments as it approaches the city. The embankments are replaced by concrete walls
further downstream. The river bed there runs through a concrete channel along a fair stretch,
making the whole thing look much more like an open storm drain than anything approaching
a natural water course. There is a plan to improve the landscape along the final stretch of the

There are few ponds and lakes in the area, and in general they are degraded; water quality is
often poor and they have a tendency to dry out. The Ricarda lagoon (Llobregat delta) is a
fortunate exception, being well-conserved and is an attractive addition to the landscape
(although there are some problems with water quality). The Remolar pond is a little artificial
and some of its waters are virtually from wastewater sources. Other ponds in the Llobregat
delta, such as the Mutra, Podrida, Roberta, etc., show few vestiges of their former selves.
There are a few small ponds in the Tordera township and Maresme county and although in
very poor condition, the water quality is good and they offer good prospects for recovery.

Caves and ravines play an important rôle in the area, particularly in the Garraf, Ordal, Sant
Llorenç del Munt, and Obac massifs. The abundance of caves means the region is rich in
native cave-dwelling invertebrates and has a wide range of bat species. The proximity of the
Barcelona conurbation causes problems with excessive numbers of visitors, vandalism and
damage to some of the caves.

The urban landscape
The urban and industrial landscape plays a prominent rôle in the Barcelona Area. Straight
lines and high rise buildings produce a skyline typical of modern cities and clashing with its
surroundings. Housing estates and scattered industrial estates abound and are completely
independent of town centres. Most of these residential and industrial estates demonstrate an
almost complete disregard of the natural setting in both their siting and appearance. Unlike
town centres, these developments are extensive and eat up large stretches of land. These areas
are full of large warehouses along both main and access roads, with fragmented open spaces
which hinder communication rather than facilitating it. The industrial landscape includes
areas in disuse, industrial estates, and quarries. This wasteful and chaotic land use produces
many blighted areas where the man-made landscape meets the natural one and in which soil
erosion, loss of natural vegetation and other problems are commonplace.

The host of infrastructures is one of the hallmarks of the area and has a considerable visual
impact. The most important communication axes are along the coast, in the Besòs and
Llobregat valleys and in Vallès county. Almost all of the large plains before or between the
pre-coastal and coastal mountain ranges are taken up by settlements and infrastructure. The
road system is largely determined by the relief of the area, this means that the building of
viaducts, bridges, tunnels or cuttings makes the resulting talus slopes highly visible. Another
problem is that roads occupy large areas of land which, once built on, become virtually
impermeable. A more recent type of infrastructure is of an environmental nature (i.e.
wastewater treatment plants, incinerators, and urban waste and recycling plants). These are
sited quite close to urban centres or road networks and do not always blend in with the

The urban and industrial landscape is thus made up of diverse elements which have a
considerable impact on the environment and are difficult to integrate. The sheer size of the
rubbish tips in the Barcelona Region makes them a problem. The Garraf rubbish tip is a good
(and bad) example. Car graveyards have proliferated in the area and usually form part of the
black economy. Many townships have insisted on measures to reduce the visual impact of
these, but some are still not screened from general view. Other services which suffer from
similar problems are recycling centres and warehouses for containers and other recyclable
materials. Large shopping centres, with their car parks and petrol stations are increasingly
sited on the outskirts of cities, bordering rural areas with which they clash visually.

In such a densely populated area, leisure and sports facilities can take up quite a lot of space.
Sports fields, theme parks, racing tracks, golf courses, etc. are sited around cities. Of all these
facilities, golf courses are those which blend in best with the landscape for most of the year,
although the greenness of the links clashes with the browns and yellows of the parched
summer landscape.

Table 58
Relative areas occupied by landscape elements

          Element              1965    1973    1990
Industrial and urban areas     31%     39%     43%
Parks, sports facilities        1%      1%      1%
Woodland                       16%     17%     19%
Scrub                          11%     10%     15%
Farming areas                  41%     33%     22%

Source: Francesc Giró
6.2 The biological heritage: fauna, vegetation and urban green
Nature areas in the Barcelona Area, though far from virgin, are relatively well conserved. It
should be said that there are no exceptionally valuable elements. Most of the ecosystems are
fairly new and therefore there are no animals and plants which are specially adapted to these
environments. There are several common plant and animal species but very few rare
Mediterranean species. In fact, some of the most unusual species in the nature parks are
Central European species whose southern limit is found here. There is also not much
information on the population distribution and trends of species. Without some basic research
and field work it is virtually impossible to say what changes have occurred over the last few
years. In addition, we do not have reliable information on which ecosystems in the region are
more or less stable. The holm oak has been spoken about for years as the climax vegetation of
the area; but recently, both the concept of climax vegetation and the holm oak as an exponent
have come under attack in recent years. Paleo-ecological studies indicate that oakwoods and
mixed woodland were much more important until relatively recently and flourished under
much the same climatic conditions. We have little information on the precise distribution of
woodlands along river banks, elm and other tree species are currently very scarce and tend to
be strung out in lines because of intense agriculture and urban growth. Forest management is
not made any easier by the lack of knowledge concerning the natural balance between large
herbivores and Mediterranean vegetation.

Most of the area is covered by Mediterranean vegetation which can be divided into five main
groups. The first is mountain holm oak (Quercetum mediterraneo-montanum), the most
widely distributed species is Quercetum galloprovinciale, while on silica strata one finds
forests of Quercetum galloprovinciale sueretosum, scrub covers deforested areas - mainly
mastic and palmetto (Querco-Lentiscetum) native to the Garraf and Ordal massifs and kermes
oak and blackthorn (Rhamno-Cocciferetum). River bank vegetation is still well represented
around headwaters but has largely disappeared in middle and lower sections, although there
are still a few remnants, such as the alder grove at Malgrat de Mar (Maresme) in the middle
of a camp site just a few yards from the sea.

One of the most remarkable traits of the vegetation in the area is the presence of plants from
so many climatic zones (Alpine forest, mainly in the Montseny massif, but also in the least
accessible parts of other high massifs; and with a few, rare Euro-Siberian species). However,
Mediterranean vegetation does predominate. There is also vegetation typical of beach and
dune areas, wetlands,and river banks, as well as common species found throughout the area.
It is surprising to find Alpine species in an area which so obviously typifies a Mediterranean
climate. These Northern species include black pine (Saxifrago-Rhoderetum), small firs
(Galio-Abietetum) and alpine meadows with the junipers (Juniperus communis) so common
in the Pyrenees. In more temperate areas there are examples of Euro-Siberian vegetation with
stands of green hellebore (Helleboro-Fagetum), forests of broad-leaved oak (Querceto-
Acetetum) and forests of oak and box (Buxo-Quercetum).
Table 59
Distribution of main tree species found in woodlands in the Barcelona Area

Species               BLL      BCN    MAR      VOC       VOR     GAR      APE      Total    %
                                                          28                        28      0.02
Abies alba
                                                440      4,595            5,035              4
Pinus sulvestris
                       83       3     15,831    550     17,913                    34,380    28
Pinus pinea
                      12,397   907     524     26,946   11,449   7,857   11,774   71,854    57.9
Pinus halepensis
Other trees                            152       20       335                       507     0.4
                                                         1,444                     1,444     1
Faig sylvatica
                                       27                199                        226     0.2
Quercus cerrioides,
Q. Pubescens
                       668             243               5,521                     6,432     5
Quercurs ilex
                                      1,980              458                       2,432     5
Quercus suber
                                       55                307                        362     0.3
Castanea sativa
Populus nigra          34              230       20      410                        694      1
Other trees                             30               182                        212     0.1
Total                 13,182   910    19,072   27,976   42,841   7,857   11,774   123,612   100
Source: Forest management in Catalonia. 1990. Department of Agriculture and Fisheries.

One of the problems of conserving flora is the large number of naturalised species. As far as
tree species are concerned, one should note the extensive presence of false acacia (Robinia
pseudoacacia) which covers large areas, displacing native river bank species. It also often
takes the place of elm, oak, and poplar. Another tree which is a formidable coloniser and hard
to control is the tree of heaven (Ailanthus altissima) which has escaped from gardens and is
spreading in the wild. It has a preference for stream banks which are reasonably damp, but
also grows in drier areas, often lining railways and roads. It can also be found along some
river banks.

The lack of a large mountain massif with Mediterranean characteristics means that both
common and rare Mediterranean species are less found than one might expect. However
some species deserve special attention, since they are often confined to a small and threatened
area. These are:
Epipactis tremolsii which is endemic to the Collserola, Marina and Corredor ranges.
Erodium rupestre is only found in the Montserrat massif and requires some degree of grazing.
Saxifraga callosa can only be found in Sant Llorenç del Munt and Montserrat.
Viola suavis is only found in the Collserola, Marina, and Corredor-Montnegre ranges.
Kosteletzkya pentacarpos is only found in a lagoon in the Llobregat delta.

Some of these rare species are sensitive to changes in land use patterns. A reduction of pasture
land could cause many local species to disappear, as could a radical change in forest
management practices.

One should note the presence of many rare or vulnerable vertebrate species (although often in
very small numbers). There are residual populations of red-tailed Barb (Barbus haasi) in the
Vallvidrera and Rellinars torrents. Leuciscus cephalus is still found in Llobregat on the edge of
the region and in the headwaters of two tributaries of the river Besòs. There are still eels
(Anguilla anguilla) at the Llobregat and Tordera river mouths.

There are five species of reptiles and amphibians which are considered rare and which maintain
viable populations. The Mediterranean tortoise (Testudo hermanni) is one, although it is difficult
to say how many of them have escaped into the wild and how many are survivors of ancient
populations. There is also the lagoon turtle (Emys orbicularis) found in lagoons along the river
Tordera and at one site in the Vallès Occidental. One of the rarest and most endangered species
is the pink wall lizard ++ Hemidactylus turcicus which is found throughout the whole region
(except for the Garraf massif) but in very small numbers and in isolated populations. Snake
species include ++ Coronella austriaca and the Iberian viper (Vipera latasti), which are
catalogued as rare but can still be found in the region. The bird population is very varied
because of the wide range of habitats in the area but perhaps the best environmental indicator is
the presence of various pairs of ++ Hieraaetus fasciatus one of the rarest birds of prey in
Western Europe.

As far as mammals are concerned, one should note that many species in the area are at the
southern limit of their range, penetrating through the Pyrenees and the wetter parts of Catalonia
and almost reaching the coast along the lower stretch of the river Tordera valley. These species
include the mole (Talpa europea), ++ Sorex minutus, and ++ Sorex araneus, to give just a few
examples. With regard to large mammals, almost all except the wild boar (Sus scrofa) had been
wiped out by the turn of the century. Some cloven-hoofed species have been reintroduced over
the last few years, notable examples being wild goat (Capra pyrenaica) in the Montserrat massif
and roe deer (Capreolus capreolus) in the Montnegre-Corredor range.

Table 60
Number of vertebrate species (excluding fish) in various European areas

                Amphibians      Reptiles        Birds           Mammals         Total
Barcelona           12                23             139           48                   222
Catalonia             14              30             216              76                336
Spain                 26              38             250              85                399
Germany               20              12             237              76                345
Belgium              17               8              180              58              263
Netherlands          16               7              184              55              262
Denmark              14               5              183              43              245
United                7               8              190              50              255
Source: Francesc Giró

Urban green areas
Planners of urban green areas tend to ignore the local climatic and environmental conditions.
Several of the plant and tree species used require watering throughout the year and some also
need constant composting. The lawns in city gardens are a good example. Water is a scarce
resource in Mediterranean lands and this kind of use is clearly wasteful. Many non-native plant
species require a lot of care and treatment with insecticides, etc. to keep pests and parasites at
bay. Another problem in some parks and gardens is that they fail to take into account the wildlife
which tries to use these spaces.

Basically, there are three types of vegetation found in cities: (1) cultivated plants and trees in
gardens and parks and lining roads; (2) remnants of native plants which still manage to survive
in wastelands, gaps between buildings, on walls, etc.; and (3) naturalised plants, most of them
exotic, which have found an environmental niche. Urban green areas, apart from the obvious
ornamental function, also serve important environmental purposes such as: sound barriers, a
way of creating micro-climates (shade, wind shields); a filter for particles and pollutants in
suspension; and last but definitely not least, as a habitat for urban fauna.

Many Barcelona streets are tree-lined, more so than almost all other cities of the world, helping
to make up for the city‟s sad lack of large parks. Unfortunately, the tree population currently
faces serious problems. On top of the tough living conditions (lack of space, small quantities of
soil, physical and chemical attack), over-enthusiastic pruning has weakened the city‟s trees and
made them both less ornamental and less efficient as providers of shade as a result.
Table 61
Number and type of main pollutants retained by the leaves of some of the most common city

                 Species                 No. of pollutants Main constituents
A.hippocastanum                                 50            Mn,Zn,Sr
Sophora japonica                                45             Pb,Mn
Robinia pseudoacacia                            45             Mn,Zn
Morus alba                                      44
Celtis australis                                43         Cu,Pb,Mn,Zn,Sr
Acer platanoides                                43            Mn,Zn,Sr
Tilia sp.                                       43            Cu,Pb,Mn
Platanus sp.                                    40              Mn,Sr
Ailanthus glandulosa                            39            Cu,Pb,Zn
Source “Seminario Internacional sobre Verde Urbano”, UNESCO/MAB (1989)

Table 62
Solar radiation received in July in a temperate latitude (approx. 45N) and radiation received
under the shade of particular urban tree species.

              Species             % absorption Solar radiation Radiation received
Populus tremuloides                    68             1.7              0.54
Betula populifolia                     80             1.7              0.34
Populus sp.                            81             1.7              0.32
Platanus sp.                           90             1.7              0.17
Acer rubrum                            92             1.7              0.13
Quercus alba, Q.velutina               92             1.7              0.13
Fagus sylvatica                        97             1.7              0.05
Source: Hispano-Portuguese seminar on gardens and open spaces (1991) and Discovering the
Urban Environment (1985)

The problem is worsened because the planners have little understanding of the logic of urban
vegetation. Most open spaces created or re-designed over the last few decades have used plans
that are botanically wrong and so also wrong for the city. The slavish copying of Northern
European plans and their application in a semi-tropical climate is definitely not intelligent urban
planning for a Mediterranean city. As well as being ornamental in this climate it is essential that
roadside trees provide shade, so trees with dense foliage should be chosen, a fact often
overlooked and since Barcelona is a sub-tropical city, the shade provided (particularly in the
wider boulevards typical of the Eixample) must be deep enough to protect from the fierce
summer sun that turns the city into an oven (even inside houses) and melts the tarmac.
Incredible as it may seem, some squares have been planted with Parkinsonia aculeata whose
beautiful, translucent foliage would adorn a garden but is unsuitable for large paved areas.

Public sensitivity to environmental problems has increased over the last few years and this is
reflected in the treatment of urban green spaces. This trend is exemplified in the measures of the
Barcelona Green Spaces Plan. More emphasis is now placed on native species, until now
virtually ignored by the park and garden authorities. This is sensible because these species are
better adapted to the environment, more resistant to local pests and diseases and better able to
withstand drought (and thus demand less water). This last point is consistent with water saving
measures in general, rationalisation of watering practices, and the use of water unsuitable for
human consumption to meet plant needs.
Table 63
Capacity to intercept solar radiation (PAR: solar radiation producing active photosynthesis, 400-
700 nm) of various plant species in Plaça de Universitat and paving temperature at the foot of
trees at midday (13.30-14.00 hours local time, 11.30-1200 hours GMT) on a sunny day
(18.06.96) under normal conditions (27C, humid with a soft breeze).

Species                    Radiation (mmol PAR m-3s-1)           Ground temperature
                          Incident Intercepted % abs. In full sun In shade  C
Parkinsonia aculeata      1,783      646           36       50.0       43.8       6.2
Washingtonia filifera     1,790      1,161         65       50.8       38.0       12.8
Trachycarus fortunei      1,790      1,161         65       50.8       38.0       12.8
Platanus hybrida          1,800      1,385         77       -          -          -
Casuarina esqusetifolia   1,812      1,474         82       49.1       35.1       14.0
Source: Centre for Ecological Research and Forestry Applications (CREAF) and ERF.

Table 64
Main plant species lining streets in Barcelona (Spain) and La Plata (Uruguay). Both cities have
similar climates and urban layouts (although Barcelona‟s population is three times larger than
La Plata‟s). The importance of tree cover in both cities is widely recognised.
                   Species                       Barcelona            La Plata
                                              Nº trees      %     Nº trees     %
Platanus hybrida[B], P.acerifolia [LP]         56,958 41.5          3,812     8.0
Ulmus minor, U.pumila
Ulmus minor, U.pumila                          10,617       7.7     1,062     1.4
Robinia pseudoacacia                           7,955        5.8     3,148     6.6
Celtis australis                               5,839        4.2      356      0.7
Sophora japonica                               5,275        3.8     1,479     3.1
Ligustrum lucidum                              4,065        2.9      582      1.2
Melia azedarach                                   !        <0.5     3,825     8.0
Hacer indica                                   3,104        2.2     3,398     7.1
Lagestroemia indica                               !        <0.5     1,559     3.2
Firmiana simplex                               1,998        1.4       -        -
Catalpa bignonioides                           1,880        1.3      384      0.8
Tipuana tipu                                   1,877        1.3      340      0.7
Brachychiton populneum                         1,539        1.1       !      <0.5
Pinus halepensis                               1,429        1.0       !       0.5
Tilia                                          1,342        0.9     8,778    18.4
Populus                                        1,277        0.9      821      1.7
Albizia julibrissin                               !        <0.5      680      1.4
Citrus aurantium                                  !        <0.5      546      1.1
Others                                         31,891 23.2          3,894     8.1
Total                                         137,046              47,617
Source: Barcelona City Guide (1995) and Trees in La Plata (1983)

Fauna should be considered as just another component of the urban green spaces. Unlike plants,
animals are mobile and thus more difficult to control. Some species are relatively unattractive
and unpopular with the public while others are more appealing. Butterflies and perhaps
dragonflies are popular among invertebrates, while most vertebrates (except snakes) are
generally popular with the man in the street. Perhaps birds make up the favourite group, their
song making a pleasant contrast to the roar of traffic and their flights visible throughout the year.
The diversity of urban fauna depends on the variety of suitable habitats available. For example,
a lawn planted with only one or two grass species is not attractive to most animals, while a
Mediterranean meadow, with twenty or so plant species, would be used by many more animals
who could find both food and shelter there.

The domiciliation of native fauna in city and town parks and gardens in Catalonia is slowly
improving but has a long way to go before comparison with Northern Europe and North
America. However, the needs of birds and butterflies are taken into account, partly because
these are easier to accommodate and cause less problems. Nesting boxes and occasional feeding
tables are provided for birds and bats, while fruit and seed-bearing species are planted with a
view to providing a food source. A start has also been made in providing small artificial habitats
(small areas of natural woodland and patches of wetland for pond life). An interesting
experiment is taking place in Prat de Llobregat where (with help from the town council)
teachers and students from three schools have created small wetland and river bank woodlands
with splendid results.

One of the environmental problems that afflicts not only urban green areas but also cities in
general is the proliferation of specific animal species, native or exotic, which are a nuisance
and/or a danger to health. In the Barcelona Area these animals are usually: pigeons (Columbia
livia), herring gulls (Larus cachinnans), ring-necked parakeets (Myopsitta monachus, Psittacula
krameri), house sparrows (Passer domesticus), starlings (Sturnus vulgaris), and rats (particularly
Rattus norvegicus). These animals create health problems, foul monuments and buildings, and
are a general nuisance. All these are good reasons to control urban populations of these species.
6.3 Nature management
Urban and industrial land covers a wide area and is particularly dense on the coastal plain,
crossing the coastal range by the Besòs corridor, and forms four axes through Vallès county. A
fifth urban axis crosses the Southern part of the plain and runs along the edges of the river
Llobregat. These urban centres and their satellite industrial areas are interconnected both
transversely and longitudinally by a network of roads as well as by high tension lines providing

The environmental matrix
Some patches of forest have managed to survive on peaks and mountainsides in the region
because these areas were less profitable or practical for urban and agricultural land uses. These
forest patches have an important rôle to play in the maintenance of ecological processes.
However these areas are threatened externally by urban spread and internally by being used in
ways incompatible with their ecological rôle. Some of these areas enjoy legal protection
designed to stop their further deterioration. These protected areas are isolated from each other
and surrounded by a complex patchwork of different land use where the degree of
environmental deterioration varies from one place to the next, as well as by agricultural lands
which may or may not meet soil conservation needs. From an urban planning point of view,
those areas which are neither protected nor built upon are seen as a reserve of potential building
land, as physical barriers to be overcome or as good sites for roads. However, from an integrated
landscape planning perspective, these areas are strategically important and, if properly managed,
will ensure the right balance is struck between the use of land for nature areas and urbanisation.

In considering this integrated approach one should consider two basic elements in the
environmental matrix of the Barcelona Region: nature “islands” and inhabited but not urbanised
areas. Given the enormous unplanned demand for land in the area, the borders of the 17
officially protected areas included in the Plan for Areas of Natural Interest (PEIN) were drawn
up to defend those areas of environmental value rather than deciding how large each one should
be and what criteria should be adopted in deciding its limits. Six of these areas (Montnegre-
Corredor, 11,202 ha.; Collserola, 7,627 ha.; Montseny, 28,148 ha; Sant Llorenç-l‟Obac, 10,177
ha; Montserrat, 3,992 ha.; and Garraf, 10,001 ha.) are basically compact forest areas with
various secondary uses, some of which are traditional and consistent with good environmental
management and some of which are not. Probably the greatest threat to these areas is the lack of
clear criteria on land use.

These large areas are of key importance because of their mountainside forests which contribute
to gas interchange processes and the water cycle. The recovery of these functions in those areas
affected by timber felling, areas prone to erosion because of forest fires or poor management of
water resources is of primary importance. If the aim is to protect valuable flora and fauna (often
endemic, and almost always examples of co-habitation between Mediterranean and European
species) thought should be given to reducing leisure use of these parks. If, however, one gives in
to the population‟s demands and accepts that some of these areas are required for leisure
purposes, then there is little option but to accept their use as semi-urban parks and plan their
development and care accordingly.
Table 65
Areas in each county covered by the Plan for Areas of Natural Interest (PEIN 1992)

County                Surface (ha.)          % County                       % AMB
Baix Llobregat        10,397                 21.0                           3.2
Barcelonès            2,069                  14.0                           0.6
Maresme               7,341                  18.0                           2.2
Vallès Occidental     9,206                  16.0                           2.8
Vallès Oriental       25,633                 30.0                           8.0
Alt Penedès           3,632                  6.0                            1.1
Garraf                4,915                  26.6                           1.5
TOTAL BMA             63,192                 19.5                           19.6
Source: Barcelona Metropolitan Regional Plan. Catalan Government.

Management of open spaces
The protected area of Conreria-Sant Mateu-Céllecs covers 4,936 ha. but has severe
disadvantages as an area for the protection of Mediterranean species because of its largely
lobular form, the proximity of industry on its periphery and the proliferation of housing estates
towards its centre breaking it into sections, so that the park functions as separate spaces and not
as a coherent whole.

There are several smaller parks in the area, with differing characteristics. Although some
(Muntanyes de l‟Ordal, 3,952 ha.; Cingles de Bertí, 1,150 ha.; Olèrdol, 447 ha.; and Gallifa, 182
ha.) fulfil their aim of protection because of their relief or geology, this is not true of other parks
which are supposed to protect non-Mediterranean plants and fauna. Parks in the latter category
are Moianès (1,980 ha. split up into 4 separate areas), Sauva Negra (92 ha.), and Roureda de la
Tordera (35 ha.). These parks are simply too small for the renewal of the plant species they
contain and the future of the small carnivores that live there is even more doubtful given their
need for a large territory to breed in and the fact they occupy the top of the food chain in their
particular areas.

It is most difficult to define the minimum area required for conservation of the natural landscape
in cases where the presence of water is important. Whether it springs from aquifers or flows in
streams, the quantity and quality of water they supply to nature areas is closely linked to the
management of the headwaters (which may lie far outside the protected areas). Thus the water
quality in the lower stretch of the river Foix depends on the amount of water drawn off and on
treatment plants upstream. The survival of protected nature areas such as the Llobregat delta
wetlands (528 ha.) and the Tordera ponds (26.5 ha.) is seriously compromised by the amount of
water drawn off to supply the Maresme and the Costa Brava. Plans for infrastructure projects in
this economically important area represent a further threat.

A negative consequence of the protection of certain parts of the region is that human activity is
thrust out to the perimeter of these nature parks, occupying a kind of unprotected no-man‟s land.
These parts of the Barcelona area are occupied by degraded forest areas (meadows, scrub, and
bushes) and fields, and suffer from the proximity of unsuitable urban land use and growth.
Proper management of these areas is an essential part of strategic regional planning.
The proportion of urbanised land in the southern part of the region is still within bounds. In the
Alt Penedès, 52% of land use is agricultural, while only 8% is urban. In the Garraf, where most
of the population lives along the coastal strip, 65% of the land is forest and only 10% is urban.
In contrast, 80% of Barcelona is built up. The most important land use conflicts occur in the
Baix Llobregat and the Vallès, both because of the relative importance given to urban land use
and because of its strategic location. The strips of development in the Vallès cut off two large
areas running parallel to the coast and bounded by the protected areas of Sant Llorenç de Munt,
l‟Ordal, and Collserola on the one side and by Montseny and Corredor-Montnegre on the other.
There is a third patch which has not been urbanised which links the Penedès plain with the
Selva plain along the foot of the pre-coastal range. While the two parallel areas are split up by
motorways and main roads (A7, A18, and NII) the third area is a more continuous unit,
widening here and narrowing there, forming bottlenecks in the few areas which have not been
built on between the towns in Vallès county. One should also note that there are still
undeveloped areas between Sant Lorenç de Munt and Montseny. There are also smaller areas
with multiple land use between the towns of Terrassa and Sabadell and between the
conurbations which line the rivers Congost, Riera de Tenes, and Caldes.

The considerable environmental value of these areas in the proper functioning of the region is
due to several factors. First, because they are free from urban development, the soil is permeable
and they play a key role in maintaining the water cycle in the region. Second, these areas contain
a wide diversity of landscape types, largely deriving from the varying degrees of influence man
has exercised on the environment. Human activity over time has given rise to a rich mosaic of
landscape units which (historically) has taken the productive capacity of the soils into account.
Copses and woodland were dotted through farming areas. This, together with traditional, non-
intensive farming methods, produced a wide diversity of habitats. Some areas (particularly the
sites of quarrying operations) are potentially capable of a strong recovery. Unlike protected areas
which are more homogeneous and designed to protect a few selected species under strictly
controlled ecological conditions, these more complex areas can be better suited to the presence
of a larger number of species, either because the ecological conditions are less precise or
because species need different habitats during their life cycle. The greatest diversity of species is
not found in protected areas but in inter-urban ones. It should also be remembered that some
forest dwelling species seek food beyond the forest boundary. The fact that two of the areas
under consideration run perpendicular to the coast makes them even more valuable since they
provide a contact zone between Euro-Siberian and inland species toward the North and West
and Mediterranean ones towards the coast. They also provide natural seasonal migration routes
towards the sea through the coastal and pre-coastal mountain ranges (precise migration patterns
depending on weather conditions and the availability of food).

Conserving the environment does not mean thinking only of nature while ignoring the
population‟s leisure needs. Many people pack the roads every weekend on their way to nature
areas, making the conservation of these parks more difficult as the park‟s capacity to absorb
them is, in many cases, exceeded. Despite this, the number of people who are genuine nature
lovers who understand the unique value of an area is a very small minority. The man in the
street is quite content with a forest area or a stream surrounded by open areas, easily reached by
road and with services at hand. If properly managed, the unprotected areas could satisfy this
kind of demand and relieve pressure on the protected areas.

Because the unprotected areas are diverse, they are capable of satisfying a wide range of leisure
demands. Their biological diversity needs to be conserved or increased so that they can reinforce
the effectiveness of protected areas (which, lacking a buffer zone, frequently have to absorb
excessive leisure demands). Such a policy would also serve to reverse the trend towards
increasing urban sprawl.

Regarding management of these areas, it is not a question of applying the American model of
cutting large firebreaks (needed to protect large mammals in the U.S.A.), but rather of
maintaining landscape diversity and the important links to other areas to ensure local animal and
plant populations are not cut off from one another. Effective management of both the urban and
natural networks requires planning so that they work effectively in tandem. This means a move
away from the usual short-sighted solutions like creating green areas on the lines of city parks or
simply tarting up lineal infrastructures which break up areas to the point where they are
incapable of absorbing the environmental impact. In other words, rational land management is
required which controls urbanisation, population densities for each town, the siting of new
areas, and the layout and density of the connecting roads.

The new Plan for Areas of Natural Interest (PEIN) recognises the need to establish corridors.
The link up of protected areas will meet the provisions of the EC Habitat Directive (part of the
Nature Network 2000 initiative). The use of corridors should help the management of areas
whose environmental value is currently ignored and hence subject to all kinds of land

Forest fires
Forest fires are an important factor to consider in the environmental management of the area.
They play a key rôle in the Mediterranean landscape, either through their direct impact or
because of the way they shape land use and building plans.

Man plays a key rôle in Mediterranean forest fires because he moulds the environment
(clearings, works, the greenhouse effect, etc.) and because he exercises pressure on woodland
through demand for timber, mushrooms and berries and uses these areas for leisure purposes.
Man is now also the main fire causing agent (far more important than lightning, which is a
natural agent). Through much of man‟s history fire was obtained with considerable difficulty
and was carefully husbanded and controlled. Now it is all too easy to throw away a cigarette end
or accumulate combustible materials in rubbish tips (which catch fire because of exothermic
Table 66
County distribution of forest fires in the Barcelona Region (1983-1994)

 Year      Alt       Baix Barcelonès Garraf            Maresme     Vallès    Vallès     Total
        Penedès Llobregat                                          Occid.   Oriental
1983       44         185     45       49                 201       386        92      1,002
1984       21         28      90        9                1,082      158        96      1,484
1985     2,316        517     68       23                  40       565        52      3,581
1986     2,555      1,603      -      716                 120      1,434      105      6,533
1987       36         149      8       23                  41       135       142       534
1988       31         24      36      108                  38        50        10       297
1989      307         29     119       41                  35        95        25       651
1990       26         195     23        8                  44       188        21       505
1991       32         50      54        5                  18        63        17       239
1992       17         32      38        3                   5        6         1        102
1993      836         27      34       16                  57       196        42      1,208
1994     1,245      3,303    604     5,688                299      3,138     7,998     22,275
Total    7,466      6,142   1,119    6,689               1,980     6,414     8,601     38,411
Source: Francesc Giró

Forest fires limit forest recuperation, help spread brush and scrublands and promote soil erosion.
Frequent fires not only desolate the burnt and degraded areas but also cause this less obvious
damage. In addition to the large number of small fires, there are larger blazes which rage out of
control. Fires affected 38,411 ha. of woodland between 1983 and 1994, which in some cases
covered land that, in some cases, had already been affected by repeated fires. In 1994 alone there
were 6 fires in the Barcelona Region, each affecting over 1,000 ha. 4,891 ha. at Gualba; 2,679
ha. at Bigues; 2,428 ha. at Castellbisbal; 2,378 ha. at Collbató; 4,313 ha. at Olivella; and 1,004
ha. at Canyelles.

Most forest fires are the result of sheer carelessness (cigarette stubs, burning off stubble,
picnics) or criminal negligence (spontaneous combustion at rubbish tips, poorly maintained
transformers and electricity pylons) which produce fires under certain weather conditions. The
causes of fires in the period 1983-1994 can be broken down as follows: 11.5% burning off
fields; 8.3% bonfires; 8.3% poorly maintained electricity lines; 3% cigarette stubs or matches
not properly disposed of by smokers; 21% arson; and 42% unknown. In addition to these main
causes, one should mention minor causes such as stubble burning, forestry work, railway lines,
rubbish dump management, use of motors and machines, and military manoeuvres. Only 0.4%
of the area burnt because of lightning strikes.

The Barcelona Region is no longer the intensely farmed area it once was, with coppiced woods
and grazing in forest clearings. All the pinewood that was once used in bakers‟ ovens and all the
holm oak converted into charcoal for domestic cookers now builds up in the neglected woods,
providing enormous quantities of tinder and making it impossible for the country people to deal
with forest fires as they used to. Rural depopulation and the fall in the price of kindling has
exacerbated the problem. In addition, these tinder boxes are now places frequented by leisure
seekers. Forest fires are now less frequent but there are more visitors. Thus the amount of
combustible material grows along with the risk of ignition. The problem is not so much the
undergrowth as the accumulation of wood on the forest floor in areas of secondary growth - a
problem which would not have arisen under the old way of doing things.

Trying to change this state of affairs begins with prevention. The first steps in preventing fires
would be to; mow roadsides; establish forest trails with fire-fighting firmly in mind (instead of
just providing access to off-road vehicles and timber lorries); provide easy access to water
hydrants and ponds for fire fighters; maintain a network of effective firebreaks (not just simple
gaps that do not stop fires and are difficult to keep clear; close smoking rubbish tips; properly
maintain high tension cables and pylons which cross woodland; exclude visitors during high
risk periods; increase vigilance of and punishment for careless and negligent behaviour (burning
on forest margins during risk periods, motors giving off sparks, etc.) complemented by effective
public awareness campaigns.

There is a second level of prevention which is much more closely related to regional planning.
Many low tension electrical cables would be unnecessary if isolated villages were supplied by
home power systems (solar panels, for example). Dissuading visitors need not necessarily mean
forbidding entry - making selected areas more attractive, including urban ones, would provide a
partial solution. Well prepared fire fighting services with logistic back up are clearly required
but, first, a new forestry policy is required if firemen are not to find themselves working round
the clock. In any case, the Catalan Government and the Barcelona council currently have
sufficient fire fighting resources.

It is the destructured areas which lose their status as landscapes and are likely to burn. A virgin
area does not require man‟s intervention to maintain itself but in areas where man‟s hand is
evident at every turn (with secondary or plantation woods of young holm oaks or highly
combustible resinous trees, with artificially favoured nurseries full of tinder-dry undergrowth,)
the only options are to maintain the woods using the same human-controlled methods that
created them or to alter them in a controlled manner. Leaving them to themselves invites
decades of deterioration - unless of course fires destroy the forests first. The quick-kindling
nature of Mediterranean trees is well-known, as is its ability to resist fire damage, but it is bad
practice on the part of man which converts risk to tragedy.

Hunting and fishing
Hunting and fishing are serious problems for the ecology of the Barcelona Region, since it is
one of the most densely populated regions in Europe and also has one of the world‟s highest
percentages of hunters. The majority of private hunting reserves are oversupplied with hunters
so that game management is based on restocking before and after the shooting season, with no
idea of synergic or natural habitat management. Leaving small patches of cereals
about as far as it goes. This pressure from hunters wipes out virtually all the animals in an area
shortly after the beginning of the shooting season, placing greater pressure on protected species.
Traps are set throughout the area to deal with predators, a practice outlawed by European
legislation but still used on our home acres.

Table 67
Hunting in 1979 and 1994

County      Nº Areas    Area        % com.      Members ha/hunt          Re-         Captures
Maresme 20              23924       60          4382         5           6425        14269
Garraf     7             13626      74          407         33          703         1947
Baix       23            21897      45          3437        6           2277        13564
Vallès     39            63419      74          6841        9           7446        48042
Vallès     44            27517      47          3489        8           3909        21254
Total      133           150383     60          18556       8           20760       99076
Maresme 22               26637      67          3349        8           20180       19099
Garraf     10            17645      96          811         22          2402        2914
Baix       22            23206      48          1974        12          12015       23658
Vallès     47            65086      76          4951        12          33706       60433
Vallès     45            29265      50          3130        9           12835       23961
Total      146           164322     62          14215       11          81138       130065
Source: Data provided by the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries and the Catalan Hunting
Association (the data is incomplete and therefore should be interpreted with caution)

Although there was a 25% decrease in the number of members hunting the private game
reserves in the Barcelona Region, there was an increase in the number of private reserves,
probably due to conversion of open areas. The catch bagged increased by 50% over the 25 year
period while re-stocking increased fourfold. The fall in members is explained by the excessive
density of hunters in the area, the low number of game animals still around and the fact that
almost everything depends on re-stocking. Native partridge (Alectoris rufa), doves (Columba
palombus) and rabbits (Oryctilagus cuniculus) are wiped out in the first 4 or 5 days of the
season. Many hunters let their membership lapse and travel further inland or to other regions for
the next season. The spectacular increase in re-stocking is necessary because of over-hunting. If
it were not for that, there would simply be nothing left to shoot.

It is worrying that there are a large number of housing estates that effectively fall within the free
areas bordering hunting grounds and which should be “safety areas” but are not declared as
such. About forty of these “safety areas” are open areas while over a hundred are housing

The data covering the bag should be treated with caution since it comes from a form submitted
by the president of each hunting club to the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries and is not
fully reliable. The data on re-stocking, on the other hand, is probably fairly close to the truth.

Fishing in inland waters is a relatively insignificant activity in the area since rivers only have
fish in the upper and middle reaches and contain species which are not particularly popular with
anglers. There are trout in the headwaters of the Tordera and Moment, as the rivers were stocked
some years ago, and barb in other rivers, plus some eels in the Tordera. Fishing is heavier along
the coast and some species have suffered a serious decline. Despite improvements in water
quality over the last few years, the pressure of fishing using sports rods, line, spear guns and
industrial methods have kept fish stocks at extremely low levels. There is not a single marine
reserve along the whole Maresme, Barcelonès, Baix Llobregat and Garraf coast which would
allow recovery of fish stocks and other marine species.

The biggest epidemics to date have affected rabbits. Myxamatosis appeared in 1953 and rapidly
depleted the rabbit population and rabbit predators. In 1989 haemorrhaging viral pneumonia
made its appearance. The two epidemics have maintained rabbit populations at extremely low
levels and the possibility of recovery is virtually zero because of the so-called management of
this problem: Rabbits from other parts of the country are continually released and since they
carry different viral strains from the local population the result is an endless series of re-

The problem of exotic fish species is (except in riverlands) episodic and not particularly
worrying. The main land fauna problems from accidental or intentional introduction is the mink
(Mustela vison) which escaped from fur farms and has colonised a large part of Vallès Oriental.
A subject of more concern is the massive presence of stray cats which have adapted to the
environment and displaced other natural predators, mostly mustelidae (weasels, etc.). There is a
similar problem with dogs, although most scavenge on unmanaged rubbish tips and attack farms
and stock. Another species which has bred very successfully in the wild (although so far only in
the centre of Barcelona and some other cities) is the ring-necked parakeet (Myopsitta
monachus), a native of South America.

The situation regarding rivers is much worse. All the river courses are full of exotic species
which have either displaced or killed off native species. This problem, combined with
appallingly low water quality, especially in the lower reaches, is responsible for the dire straits
suffered by the native fish. Another species to be found almost everywhere is the American river
crab (Procambarus clarkii).

The progressive isolation of animal populations due to the fragmentation of the area is one of
the main problems affecting river species. The least mobile animals (i.e. the bulk of
invertebrates, amphibians, reptiles, and mammals) are the ones which suffer most. The spread of
the road network and built up residential and industrial areas are the main causes of this

Although farming is relatively insignificant in the area, there have been problems with the use
of insecticides. Both herbicides and pesticides are generally used in market gardening. Some of
these substances, for example, slug pellets, have had a devastating effect on reptile, bird, and
mammal populations.

Environmental impact studies (EIS)
The growing urbanisation of the Barcelona Area over the last few years has led to serious
difficulties. The competition for land between various uses and the ever diminishing land
available endangers rational regional planning. The built up area occupies practically the whole
coastal strip and tentacles of urban development are reaching inland, particularly in Vallès
county, cutting off the few farming and nature areas which could still be conserved. This state of
affairs, together with the building and upgrading of roads, leads to a whole host of problems. If
roads are pushed through settled areas the quality of life of those affected takes a turn for the
worse. If roads bypass town and villages, they pass through the few remaining natural spaces,
already almost incapable of absorbing further damage.
The enactment of Royal Decree 1131/88 published in Nº 239 of the Official Gazette brought
into effect Statutory Instrument 1302/86 covering environmental impact studies which was later
transferred into the Catalan legislation by Decree 114/88 published in Nº 1000 of the Catalan
Official Gazette. This law held out the hope of rationalising road design and building; rather
than enforcing measures to reduce the inevitable environmental impact of such schemes, it
placed its trust in the positive results which would flow from a study of project alternatives
(and, to some extent, from a process of rational regional planning). It has taken some years for
the legislation to bear fruit. One of the last motorways (Terrassa-Manresa) built before the law
came into force is a clear example of flawed planning and execution. However some of the
motorways built some ten years later are worthy examples of what the legislators had in mind.

The quality of environmental impact studies
The first thing noticed in the environmental impact studies which accompanied the 21 road
projects drawn up in the Barcelona Region Area after the above legislation came into force is
their utter awfulness. In addition, they frequently fail to meet legislative requirements. The
legislators who so earnestly believed that the study of alternatives would show the way to
environmentally acceptable solution could hardly have envisaged that five of these studies
would contain no alternatives whatsoever. A further two cases provided an alternative merely for
the sake of form which was then ruled out on specious socio-economic grounds. In the five
studies which did contain alternatives, these were dealt with in cursory fashion before
stampeding for the preferred option. Only one of the studies compared alternatives using
defensible methodology.

Another legislative requirement which is ignored or half met is the requirement of a detailed
study of the project to be carried out. The poor quality of the studies is even more blatant in their
failure to draw up an environmental inventory and describe key ecological and environmental
interactions. Lack of time and resources to produce a decent study leads to some unpardonable
short cuts, a typical stroke of genius being to reproduce some sectoral study of the environment
word for word and simply tag it on as an appendix to the project (hydrological and geological
studies being a particular favourite here). The risks inherent in these slipshod methods are
obvious when one considers that the hydrological study of a project is usually limited to
preventing flooding of the infrastructure while the geological study only considers land slips,
etc. to the extent that these might endanger traffic. They take no account of the effect on the
hydrology below the route or the dangers of erosion and deposition in neighbouring areas.
Another equally indefensible dodge is to use information cribbed straight from reference works
instead of carrying out field studies. Some even have the gall to suggest that the reader consult
four general works with the offhand remark (and I quote) “mention is made of the fauna which
may well be found in the area covered by this study”.

Trying to anticipate the impact of a project which has not been properly prepared, on an area
where no inventory has been performed is pure speculation, this does not necessarily mean that
the study is not sufficient to meet the qualitative requirements of the Royal Decree.
Unfortunately lack of definition in this decree is truly masterly. So, a “notable impact” on the
environment is that where “there is a modification of the environment, natural resources, or
basic functional processes which produces, or may produce, important repercussions in these,
thus excluding minimal impacts”. Just to dispel any lingering doubt, a “minimal impact” is
defined as “that which cannot be demonstrated as notable”. The immediate result of this
inadequate forecasting of environmental impact is that it is impossible to draw up a reasonable
set of corrective measures (which are often replaced by a spot of landscape gardening). Only
two of the studies considered more thorough corrective measures in the road design and these
just happened to involve highly controversial schemes.

The regulations stipulate that “an evaluation shall be made of the efficacy of the environmental
protection measures contained in the environmental impact study”. To comply with this
provision, the environment needs to be monitored for a reasonable period (2-3 years) after
completion of the work. Any environmental specialist would confirm this obligation is
systematically flaunted by companies and that many public administrations turn a blind eye to
this breach of the law.

Measures of action
If we are to hope for even a minimal quality in environmental impact studies, it seems
reasonable to expect a conscientious job from the administration in the declarations of their
environmental impact. Unfortunately, the declarations seem to suffer from the same problems as
the studies they accompany. Along with the laziness or lack of interest which permits the
acceptance of unmistakeably deficient studies, the declarations of impact also contain defects
which are difficult to explain away. For example, it is not known what sort of system leads to
the qualification of all projects considered as being of “moderate environmental impact” even in
cases where the authors of the study have detected the presence of severe or even critical

Even in the best cases, the impression received when comparing the declarations with the
studies they refer to is that they are just the next in the series and have nothing to do with the
study. Where complementary studies to fill in lacunae in the data are ordered, they usually refer
to noise or repositioning of roads. Another possible recommendation in these declarations of
environmental impact is modification of the angle of cuttings. This is so regular a
recommendation that restoration experts are asking how it is possible that cuttings are still
totally unsuitable for their later stabilisation and replanting. The answer to this question is
possibly connected with the fact, often observed and mentioned by this group, that
communication between the technicians and the environmental watchdogs of the administration
is not good enough.

Thus, in the space of a few years environmental impact studies have been transformed into
another legal and bureaucratic paperchase which serves for little more than makework for a
group of environmentalists who are becoming more and more discouraged about the usefulness
of their efforts. However, it is not enough just to show that the current law is badly applied; we
should also ask whether the law itself, exactly as drawn up has any real meaning and also
whether the concept of environmental impact studies itself should be totally reconsidered. The
fact is that the greatest benefits of this procedure should arise from the study of alternative
methods; since the civil engineers who draw up the studies, despite the progress shown in their
new publicity campaigns, continue to have little interest in the ecological effects of their work,
they, of course, present in the impact study the project which is most tenable for reasons of
construction, operation and economy. It is perfectly understandable that the man in charge does
not offer alternative solutions that, although more respectful of the environment, are less
profitable for his company.
6.4 Environmental parameters
One of the socio-scientific factors which makes a holistic approach to regional planning difficult
is the aversion of experts in the natural and social sciences to adopt parameters. Their
judgements tend to be qualitative rather than quantitative, perhaps because they have a natural
repugnance towards dealing with complex phenomena in terms of discrete date. Technicians
tend to perceive qualitative factors in terms of quantitative data to the extent of considering
anything which cannot be measured as a mere trifle. Using parameters allows one to quantify
phenomena and confers an impression of professionalism. Excessive use of parameters often
disguises a lack of rigour and precision, but they are commonly used in technology to avoid
mistakes. Thus stress and strain tables for various materials are used by project engineers to
ensure that bridges (for example) generally stay up. However, the danger is that the use of
parameters can be taken too far, imply a high level of precision where none exists and lead us to
put technicians on a pedestal.

The problems of quantifying environmental phenomena
Environmental sciences, insofar as they represent scientific and technical knowledge of nature,
must necessarily resort to parameters and indexes. Let us say we decide that a noise level
equivalent to 65 dBA is intolerable. One can obviously raise objections and argue that individual
perception of sound varies and that the difference between 64 dBA (tolerable) and 66 dBA
(intolerable) is both qualitatively and quantitatively minimal and that “noise equivalence” is a
flawed concept. However, until one has adopted such a parameter one cannot even begin to
control noise however much qualitative data we collect on the effects of “excessive noise” on
health. The same principle is true of DBO5 or any other environmental engineering parameter.
We have to be capable of establishing parameters and standards so that, for example, one can
say just how big a forest must be to avoid the problems that small, isolated woodland fragments
have in sustaining fauna. By the same token, we also need to know the precise ecological flow
rate in m3s-1 needed to guarantee biological conditions in a water course; the maximum
acceptable talus slope on clay soils; a clear relationship between bio-indicator species which
permits a decision on what discharges may be permitted and what may not; and the soil volume
required per root system for bushes planted on motorway central reservations, and so on.

One of the obstacles to this type of advance is the difference between the terms “objective
reality” and “coherent subjectivity”. Thus, for example, one can say that water boils at 100C
and freezes at 0C, although pressure and altitude make it difficult to be absolutely precise on
what temperature water actually boils at, at a given point in space and time. Nevertheless, one
can be “subjectively coherent” and decide that water is cold below 20C, tepid between 20C
and 35C, and warm above 35C, even though nothing special occurs at these cut off points.
Regional nature indicators are necessarily of this “subjective coherence” type. Choosing cut off
points for parameters is a highly subjective business but this type of quantification is absolutely
essential if one is to be in a position to take rational policy decisions. Everyone knows how to
tell when water boils but few would hazard a guess at exactly what point it is warm rather than
cold. What we need are socio-environmental and landscape indicators which provide us with
marking schemes permitting “pass” and “fail” judgements.

Eco-landscape fragility index (EFI)
The geographical and conceptual scope of this book does not allow us to treat the question of
parameters and indices in any depth. However, since we have brought the subject up, we should
like to propose an index which (whatever its imperfections) is one for which there is an acute
need. The name we have chosen for this index is EFI (Eco-landscape Fragility Index). EFI is
intended to provide simple and effective measurement of parameters in a Mediterranean
landscape. This use of parameters would require precautionary, corrective, and limiting
measures at the project stage. It would provide a new element which project designers would
incorporate in their matrix of quantifiable factors. The EFI would be a “subjectively coherent”
factor to correct mistaken “relative objectivity”. An analogy of this erroneous “relative
objectivity” would be the observation that it is equally “hot” in the jungle or desert when the
temperature is 30C. While true in a narrow physical sense, it ignores the fact that the desert
temperature might feel cooler due to wind and low relative humidity while the still, damp air of
the jungle would feel stiflingly hot. Thus the apparent temperature in the desert might seem a
bearable 30C while the steamy jungle might feel like 37C. A summer temperature of 25C is
pleasant in a village sited in a dryish climate but feels like a clinging 33C in Barcelona with
80% relative humidity. The EFI would apply this type of corrective factors to construction plans.

The EFI takes three highly significant environmental factors into account:

Annual rainfall, an element which plays a crucial rôle in determining land recovery from
  damage. There is a direct relationship between the extent and speed of re-growth of
  vegetation and land recovery since plants help stabilise soils and soften landscape impact.
  Summer rainfall would be the ideal measure here (since this is the real limiting factor for
  vegetation growth) but this data is difficult to obtain. In any case, we can make do with
  annual rainfall since seasonal rainfall patterns in the Mediterranean are well-established.
Average slope. This bears a direct relationship to the real surface of a cutting or embankment, its
  visual impact on the environment and its geological instability.
Nature of the bedrock. This has a considerable effect on the expression of the previous two
  parameters. Bedrock characteristics such as geological solidity or friability affect factors such
  as runoff.

These three independent parameters have the advantage of being either invariable (or at least
stable over long periods of time) and easy to measure. There are sufficiently large scale maps for
the whole of Catalonia to enable EFI maps comparing available data to be produced. We have
done precisely this for the Barcelona Region on a relatively modest map scale of 1: 450,000
(more detailed EFI maps would be required for local measures or, alternatively, a recalculation
of the index based on local data).

The EFI calculation matrix is as follows:

Annual rainfall               <500 mm                  500 - 700               >700 m
coefficient                       0                        1                      2
Average slope                   >20%                    10-20%                  <10%
coefficient                       0                        1                      2
Nature of bedrock       Karst, conglomerates,       Consolidated          Consolidated silica-
                          clay, marl, chalk        calcareous rocks          based rocks
coefficient                       0                        1                      2
Each area has an EFI which is the sum of the corresponding three coefficients, ranging from 0
(<500mm, >20%, and Karst for example) to 6 (>700 mm, <10%, and palaeozoic schist). These
allow classification under one of three categories of environmental fragility:

VERY FRAGILE                0,1,2    Precautionary measures/ very strong correction of
                                     environmental impact
FRAGILE                     3,4      Precautionary measures/ Strong correction of
                                     environmental impact
RELATIVELY ROBUST           5,6      Precautionary measures/ Normal correction of
                                     environmental impact

The summing of the coefficients is such that a component with a higher fragility value would
not be masked by another component with a lower value. Thus a single zero (0) value would not
permit a “relatively robust” classification since the maximum value possible with one zero is 4
(a “fragile” classification at the least and possibly a “very fragile” one if the other two values
taken together add up to 2).

The effectiveness of the EFI would be linked to legal requirements which required planners and
project managers to take the index into account for both works and budgeting purposes. Even if
it proved difficult to enshrine this in law, it would be a great step forward if planners were to
accept this “technical” parameter as yet another “objective” factor in their algorithms.

7.1 Energy requirements: strategy and consumption
Human activities, whether of production, transformation, or transport, depend on energy which
can be obtained from renewable sources, fossil fuels, or fission. Comfort and standard of living
also depend on energy sources - indeed, traditionally energy consumption correlates directly to
the standard of living. For this reason, energy supplies must be planned to meet future demands.
Current philosophy puts a high value on available energy systems and penalises misuse of
energy, especially that coming from non-renewable, polluting sources. This is a good reason for
planning demand and ensuring that resources are planned in an integrated way.

Energy management
The production, harnessing, transformation and use of energy have important implications for
regional and environmental planning. Regional distribution of human activities greatly affects
energy systems. The belief that one can do anything anywhere simply because the technology
and energy are available is now accepted as a fallacy. The problems caused by inefficient or
inappropriate use of space or energy are more important than the benefits obtained.

Metropolitan areas and cities have begun to use energy as a factor in their analyses. Energy use
is not merely a modern service or a technical and financial problem to be solved by power
companies it is also a scarce resource, a contributor to pollution and a consumer of land and
infrastructure. The cost of using this space, maintaining buildings, networks, environment and
region, and creating new infrastructures, is affected by energy systems. A lower price for one
sector can mean a higher cost to the whole.

Since the start of the industrial revolution there has been an exponential increase in the
consumption of energy derived from conventional, non-renewable sources (especially fossil
fuels and uranium). This trend is beginning to rock the boat, since it is more and more evident
that current levels and patterns of consumption are impossible to maintain. If environmental
deterioration caused by the ever-growing consumption is not sufficiently alarming at local and
global levels, the petrol crises from 1973 onward have warned just how precarious economic
development is, when based on increasingly scarce energy resources imported from a few
strategic geographical areas.

It is becoming increasingly obvious that rational energy planning based on the concept of
sustainable development is essential for the proper functioning of a country as well as for its
economic regions.
The EU Commission‟s Green Book on Energy (1995) incorporates this idea when it states that
“the improvement in infrastructures, advances in energy efficiency, and the use of renewable
energies will help correct regional imbalances, as well as contributing towards regional
planning”. However energy planning in Catalonia continues to run on traditional lines with ever
increasing consumption and inefficiencies in energy transformation, together with a regional
planning model which encourages waste and systematically ignores local sources of renewable
Energy consumption
Energy consumption in the Barcelona Region amounts to 1,782 metric tonnes of oil equivalent
per km2, unevenly spread through the region. The highest energy consumption per square
kilometre is in Barcelonès county with 10,887 tonnes/km2. Baix Llobregat has the next highest
figure with 2,500 tonnes/km2, while other counties use less. No less than 38% of energy use in
the Barcelona Region is attributable to industry, while transport uses 36% and 25% is taken up
by other uses. There was a fall in industrial energy consumption in the Barcelona Region
between 1989 and 1992, probably due to energy saving measures. Energy consumption is fairly
moderate, partly because of the area‟s balmy climate which cuts down on heating costs.
However the use of air conditioning during the Summer months may change this trend. A
particularly alarming development is the unreasonably high percentage of energy consumption
represented by transport, which continues to grow.

Energy consumption in the area accounts for 60% of the total for Catalonia. By sectors,
metropolitan industry accounts for 53% of Catalan industry while domestic uses and services
represent 63% of the total. The Region basically consumes energy, has few local energy sources,
and therefore relies on imports of resources (with all the extra costs that such dependence
implies). The energy imported into the area has a negative impact on other parts of the region in
terms of the generation, transformation, and transport involved.

Another imbalance which applies not only to the Barcelona Region but also to Catalonia as a
whole is the low energy efficiency obtained in the successive transformation from raw material
(oil, natural gas, coal, uranium, etc.) to final product (light, heat, and other services) after supply
in the form of electricity, fuel, etc. The inefficiencies involved between generation and use can
be striking: only 20% of fuel is actually turned into motive power by vehicles. This wastage is
even greater in the case of a simple light bulb of the incandescent type - only 6% of the
electricity consumed by the bulb is actually turned into light - the rest produces unwanted heat.

If the electricity for the light bulb is generated by a thermal power station, only 2% of the energy
used is actually turned into light. This is clearly absurdly wasteful. Energy losses take place
during transmission, transport, or transformation, where the heat generated is lost to the
atmosphere or heats up cooling water. No attempt is made to use this “waste” energy. The
efficiency of electricity generation has declined over recent years in Catalonia, largely as a result
of the increasing use of thermal power stations.
Table 68
Total energy consumption in the Barcelona Region by type (1989)

       County            Fuels per unit area    Electricity per unit   Electricity per unit
                              (MJ/m2)                   area                   area
                                                     (Mj/M2)                (Mj/M2)
Alt Penedès                    17.38                    3.21                  20.59
Baix Llobregat                 83.16                   21.50                 104.66
Barcelonès                    319.62                  136.56                 456.18
Garraf                         24.72                    5.00                  29.72
Maresme                        26.47                    7.36                  33.83
Vallès Occidental              57.48                   17.03                  74.50
Vallès Oriental                16.62                    5.68                  22.29
Source: Department of Industry and Energy. Catalan Government

Table 69
Total energy consumption in the Barcelona Region (tonnes oil equivalent/year 1989)

County            Industry          Transport         Other               Total
Alt Penedès           220,539            45,295            25,286             291,120
Baix Llobregat        599,241           471,969           143,974            1,215,184
Barcelonès            366,797           544,333           646,850            1,557,980
Garraf                 74,380            32,281            23,919             130,580
Maresme               104,850           124,501            91,092             320,447
Vallès Occidental     479,283           360,798           192,463            1,032,544
Vallès Oriental       194,689           156,662           101,927             453,278
Source: Department of Industry and Energy. Catalan Government
7.2 Energy infrastructures: generation, transformation, and
Everyone would accept the importance of energy infrastructures in the area although there
would no doubt be disagreement on why they are important. Some would stress their economic
importance, others the services they provide, and yet others the environmental impact they
produce. Analysis proves difficult because not even the power companies themselves have
centralised information on their infrastructures despite the fact that integrated information
management in this field is common practice in some countries (where powerful programming
tools are employed).

Energy generation
The term generation traditionally applies to production of electricity or steam. Electrical
generators are dynamos while steam generators turn electricity or another source of energy into
steam. Recently, the term co-generation has been employed to refer to generation of electricity
and heat (in the form of steam or hot water) as a product of the energy released by burning fuel.
When the electricity so generated is used in the plant itself (i.e. transformed into other forms of
energy) the terms auto-generation, auto-production, or auto-consumption are employed. Current
legislation allows electricity produced by co-generation or from renewable sources to be
supplied to the electrical grid under certain conditions laid down by the Royal Decree on the
Ministry of Industry. These generating plants fall under provisions covering “special

The installations producing electricity are: thermal power stations; hydroelectric power stations;
incinerators; and co-generation plants. With the exception of the Foix power station, thermal
power stations have virtually been withdrawn from service since 1988. There have been various
reasons for their fall from favour. On the one hand the rationalisation of the electrical grid in
Spain and the coming on stream of Catalan nuclear power stations meant excess power
generation capacity, making the thermal stations‟ contribution unnecessary. At the same time oil
prices went up steeply and the use of natural gas as a fuel in power stations was banned. The EU
is currently encouraging the use of natural gas for electricity generation to replace oil-burning.
However, the gas burning power stations which came into service between 1968 and 1976 (or
1979 in the case of Foix) are now obsolete and produce unacceptable levels of pollution.

Table 70
Thermal power stations in the Barcelona Region

Power station      Fuel    Fuel consumption       Installed generating
                                  (kT)              capacity (MW)
Foix             oil/gas          110                      520
Badalona II        oil              1                      344
Sant Adrià
group 1          oil/gas            9                     350
group 2            oil                                    350
group 3          oil/gas           33                     350
group 1          oil/gas           14                     150
group 2         oil/gas               2                  350
Source: Ecoserveis

Both thermal power stations and waste incinerators are conventional plants, generating
electricity or steam with fuel or kinetic energy as their power source. More recently the idea of
co-generation has taken hold, the number of these plants in Catalonia increasing notably,
encouraged by the active support of the Catalan Government and various other favourable
factors such as the increase in electricity charges and good prices for selling power to the grid.
In addition, the natural gas network has grown and provides the favoured fuel for co-generation
schemes. In 1993 there were 119 plants (66 belonging to industry and 53 to services) with a total
power capacity of 297.5 MW (285.4 provided by industry and 12.1 by services). The average
output per plant was 2,500 KW (4,323 for industry, 228 for services). The potential output was
estimated at 368 plants totalling 500 MW, the average output per plant being 1,359 KW. Thus
32% of the potential market is satisfied by co-generation which provides 60% of Catalonia‟s
total power generating capacity.

Table 71
Power obtained from waste incineration plants in the Barcelona Region

        Plant             RSU consumption/yr.       Electricity sold       Installed capacity
                               (tonnes)                (GW/yr.)                  (MW)
Sant Adrià de Besòs            299,360                  103.7                      18
Mataró                         106,319                    62                      11.6
Montcada i Reixac               47,630                   0.38                     0.76
        Total                  453,309                    166                      30
Source: Ecoserveis

Hydroelectric power is relatively insignificant in the Barcelona Region because of low river
flow volumes, highly seasonal flow patterns, and the small drop of rivers. There are three plants
in operation, in some cases based on converted mill races and dams from industries which were
sited along river courses. The total capacity is 5.2 MW, with the capacity to produce 13,250
MW per year.

Table 72
Siting and power output of hydroelectric schemes

          Site              Capacity
Baix Llobregat
       Corbera                1,230
       Esparreguera           2,300
Vallès Oriental
       Gualba II               630
       Gualba III             1,025
Total                         5,185
Source: Ecoserveis

Table 73
Co-generation in the Barcelona Region (1997)
County                   Current capacity                         Potential capacity
             Plants       Total output Average         Plants       Total output Average
                          (MW)          output                      (MW)           output
                                        (KW)                                       (KW)
Baix        5             41.48         8,295          33           112.6          3,412
Barcelonès 10              9.95          995           66            51.3         777
Maresme     2              10.97         5.485         15            11.2         747
Garraf      0              0             0             2             2.1          1,050
Vallès      1              n.a.          n.a.          67            46.4         693
Vallès      3              11.75         3,917         37            20.3         549
Total       21             74.14         3,531         220           243.9        1,109
Source: Ecoserveis

Power capacity from co-generation comes to 19% of the amount of electricity currently
generated by the thermal power stations of Badalona and Sant Adrià which are fired by natural
gas. Co-generation now operates in 10% of plants and 30% of the potential electricity available
through this method is currently harnessed. Most of the current co-generation plants are
concentrated in Barcelonès and Vallès Occidental counties. The potential amount of electricity
which could be generated by new schemes is three times greater than the potential number of
new plants. This is due to the fact that newer plants will be much more productive than older
ones. In the final analysis, the potential for co-generation will depend on the prices paid for
electricity sold to the grid from these plants. Policy and environmental decisions may also play a
part in providing alternative fuels to natural gas, such as biogas and forestry waste.

Energy transformation
Electricity must be stepped down by transformers before it can be used by consumers. Other
energy sources require other transformation processes. These transformations are not usually
detailed when they occur within the same plant or company being supplied. Energy
transformation prior to supply tends to be on a larger scale and requires considerable

One of these infrastructures in the Barcelona Region is the natural gas plant in the port of
Barcelona. Refrigerated liquid natural gas arrives at the flammable materials wharf, where
special equipment pipes off the fuel from vessels into holding tanks. The heat required to turn
the liquid back into gas comes from seawater which runs through a heat exchanger. The gas is
then sent through the network for both local and national distribution. Big customers without
access to piped gas are supplied by cryogenic tankers. Such customers include local gas
companies, large industrial plants, and the butane and propane plant in l‟Hospitalet de

There are plans to build a power plant in the port of Barcelona. This would be fuelled by
biological fuels obtained from the chemical treatment of rape seed, sunflower, and other oils.
The resulting fuel would give a similar performance to diesel. However the impact of the
operation of this plant on the environment and on Catalan agribusiness needs to be considered.
Distribution networks
Energy production in large centralised infrastructures requires distribution networks to supply
consumers. In the Barcelona Region electricity is distributed over high voltage power lines
(either over pylons or underground lines). Liquid fuels and gases require shipping, pipelines,
and tanker lorries. Solid fuels are transported by road. Some forms of transport also require
special the installation of special terminals. Liquid and gaseous fuels are stored in holding tanks.
Natural gas has to go through a control station prior to distribution.

Energy distribution, from transport terminals to supply to the customer, runs through a
considerable number of large distribution systems. Electricity is transformed down to lower
voltages and requires a host of safety apparatus, division and control, pylons, cables, service
galleries, etc. Flammable liquids require tanks and service stations. From health and regional
planning perspectives, these infrastructures involve costs, take up land, and have a greater or
lesser impact on the environment. The infrastructures are usually small but they are so numerous
that they produce service and maintenance problems. The Barcelona Region has an excess of
energy transport and distribution infrastructures, largely due to the existence of various
electricity companies each of which has built its own network. One can only hope that the
merging of electricity utilities puts an end to this madness.

Apart from large centralised energy infrastructures, there are also small plants which are sited
close to end users. The energy used to produce heat or cooling is distributed by pipeline (natural
gas), cable (electricity), gas cylinder (butane), tanker lorry (propane, diesel), or ordinary truck
(firewood). The generation centres in these cases usually supply either individual buildings or
groups of buildings.

Much of the power generated could come from renewable local sources using solar cells or sun-
powered thermal sources. Unfortunately most of these small settlements continue to use liquid
and/or solid fuels and electricity from the grid because of a failure to stimulate the use of
environmentally friendly energy sources. The use of air conditioning has become increasingly
widespread, offices accounting for 62% of demand. Electricity consumption for air conditioning
made up 12% of total electricity demand in Catalonia in 1992 and the trend is one of continued
7.3 The potential for renewable energy
Renewable energy sources are more widely distributed than fossil ones, which should make
access to the former easier throughout the region. The dispersion and lower density of
renewable sources demand techniques totally different from the concentration required with
fossil fuels (i.e. large generation centres, transport, and distribution networks, safety and
management of large energy stockpiles, and the environmental impact arising from
transformation in a small area and the storage of the waste produced throughout the energy

Solid wastes and biomass as a potential energy source
Solid wastes in the Barcelona Region are an important potential source of energy, bearing in
mind that they contain the energy equivalent of 74% of final domestic energy consumption for
1989. However, the efficiency with which they are exploited is closely linked to waste
management policies.

Table 74
Percentage of current gas and electricity consumption which could be replaced by the burning of
urban waste in the Barcelona Region

                       Dumping                 Digestion               Incineration
Gas                    14.2% (2.186 GWh)       9.4% (1,451 GWh)        0
Electricity            5.7% (765 GWh)          3.8% (508 GWh)          9.1% (1,231 GWh)
Source: Ecoserveis

The Garraf rubbish dump in particular could generate more electricity a year than the Sau dam,
even though the former only occupies 6% of the latter‟s area (see 2.7.1). However one should
remember that the working life of a rubbish dump is shorter than that of a reservoir. The use of
the gases emitted by the rubbish dump would considerably reduce greenhouse emissions in the
Barcelona Region. Anaerobic bacteria could turn much of the organic material in sewage farms
into biogas (which would then be available to generate heat or electricity). Two current
treatments of sewage sludge are incineration and drying. The first produces electricity but also
has a negative impact on the environment, making it highly undesirable. The second, thermal
drying of the sludge, results in a net consumption of energy.

The burning of wood cuttings from pruning and coppicing in the Barcelona Region could
produce the energy equivalent of between 107 and 172 thousand tons of petroleum per year. The
use of biomass in this case would have to be carefully managed so as not to endanger
sustainable forests and affect the incipient market. The combustion process would also have to
be carefully controlled and the emission gases filtered. There is sufficient local technology to
take advantage of these kinds of resources.

Table 75
Comparative analysis of various ways of using biogas
         Uses           Price per energy unit    Energy efficiency      Income per unit of
                          (Ptas/KWh sold)                                   raw energy
                                                                        (ptas/kWh primary
Electricity generation
        A/C dynamos       9         (24-39) 35         3.15
        Gas turbine
                          9     (15-25) and (15-33)     2.7
       Electricity         9        (25-39) 35         3.15
       Heat              1.72           40            0.688
Natural Gas
       Fuel         to   1.72           90            1.548
       Vehicle fuel      6.25           85             5.31
Figure 4
Biogas generation at the Garraf rubbish tip

millions m3/year

Methane Other gases

Source: ALTENER (UAB/ICAEN) Programme

Solar energy potential
Solar radiation can be harnessed in two ways: by using either solar panels to collect the heat
(thermal energy) or solar cells to generate electricity (photovoltaic energy).

Table 76
Average solar radiation received in each county in the Barcelona Region

                    MJ/m2. Day       MJ/m2. Year     TJ/year      GJ/inhabitant
Alt Penedès             14.75          5,384       3,189,387         47,599
Baix Llobregat          14.75          5,384       2,619,194          4,369
Barcelonès              15.00          5,475        783,473            336
Garraf                  15.00          5,475       1,007,948         13,462
Maresme                 14.75          5,384       2,136,810          7,533
Vallès Occidental       14.50          5,293       3,073,355          4,816
Vallès Oriental         14.50          5,293       4,508,681         17,772
Total                   14.66          5,353       17,318,848         3,379
Source: Catalan Energy Institute
The energy potential of the solar radiation received by an area with a sunny season like that of
the Barcelona Region is very high, but this potential has been largely unused. So far only 20
solar cell installations have been counted, 14 of which are sited in Vallès Oriental county. The
two biggest installations are at the Nexus building (Barcelona) and the Pompeu Fabra library
(Mataró). The former occupies 40 m2 with a rating of 5 kWp and generates 5.9 MWh/year. The
largest installation is at the Pompeu Fabra library and occupies 603 m2. It has a rating of 53
kWp and produces 51 MWH/year. There are also two solar panel schemes in operation, one at
the Sant Josep Hospital (Barcelona) and another at the Mataró Swimming Club (Mataró). In
both cases the panels occupy an area of 140 m2.

Table 77

Percentage of the area of each county in the Barcelona Region that would need to be covered by
solar cells or solar panels to maintain present levels of energy consumption

     County         For electricity   For total energy consumption
                         (%)                       (%)
Alt Penedès              0.60                      1.40
Baix Llobregat           3.99                      7.86
Barcelonès              24.94                     39.54
Garraf                   0.91                      2.04
Maresme                  1.37                      2.60
Vallès Occidental        3.22                      5.93
Vallès Oriental          1.07                       2.5
Total                    3.44                      6.07
Source: Catalan Energy Institute
Figure 5
Evolution of the cost (ECU per watt-pc) and the efficiency (%) of solar cells.



Source: Catalan Energy Institute. Department of Industry, Trade, and Tourism. Catalan

Wind and geothermal power
Wind generation of electricity is one the most efficient renewable energy sources. However the
Barcelona Region is not a part of the country where the strength and frequency of winds would
make large scale investment in this technology attractive.

Table 78
Estimation of wind energy potential at different sites in the Barcelona Region

        Area                     Site            Wind speed (m/s)             Potential
                                                Measured Estimated          kWh/m2 year
El Prat de Llobregat   Airport                    3.7        5.1                 6.25
Olesa-Vacarisses       Puig Ventós                4.7        6.2                 9.36
Sitges                 Creueta d‟Aragalls         4.6        5.9                 8.52
Alella                 Masnou road (km.7)         0.4        0.4           not worthwhile
Gallifa                St. Pere de Gallifa        2.1        2.5           not worthwhile
Sant Celoni            Montnegre                  2.0        2.8           not worthwhile
Olèrdola               Puig d l‟Aliga             4.9        6.6                10.47
Fogars de Monclús      Turó de l‟Home             8.2        10.9               18.20
Source: Ecoserveis

As far as hot springs in the Barcelona Region are concerned, although unsuitable for generating
electricity because of their relatively low temperatures, these are warm enough to provide hot
water to houses, sports centres, hospitals, hotels, greenhouses, or other facilities requiring hot
water. No estimates of the potential energy are available for the two geothermal sites in the
Barcelona Region.
7.4 The impact of energy use on the environment
The impact of energy use in the region occurs at all points in the process: extraction, generation,
transformation, storage, distribution, and consumption. As the Barcelona Region imports energy,
the fact that energy is obtained from outside sources means that the impact of extraction of
unrenewable fuels occurs outside the region and is not noticeable from within.

The impact of hydroelectric and thermal power stations
At first sight, hydroelectric power would seem to be environmentally sound given that the water,
once it has run through the turbines, is returned to the river with little or no change in its quality.
However, a river is not just the water it contains, it is also a series of biotic communities which
are affected by the diversion and replacement of the water used to make electricity. The effects
on the biota are caused mainly by the water peaks and troughs and the change in the flow
patterns downstream.

The alternation of drought and flood affects invertebrate communities which are temporarily
isolated in pools or dried out areas. Those species which can survive the artificial drought are
then swept away by the rapid currents produced by dam discharges. Fish are affected in several
ways. First, the changes in water level endanger the reproduction of some species. Eggs
deposited when the river is high are left dry when the river falls. When the river is low, adult
fish may find it difficult to reach suitable areas for spawning. Turbines can easily kill fish which
are used to swimming in swift currents and tend to approach the blades instead of escaping
through the by-pass channels. Conventional nets are ineffective to stop fish smaller than 30 cm
and it is difficult for larger fish to reach this size when turbines are working and the flow
volume of the river is low. Hydroelectric schemes in the Barcelona Region currently have a
greater environmental impact than those foreseen when they were commissioned, and estimates
were based on absolute and fixed flow volumes.

Thermal power stations and urban waste incineration plants have a multiple impact on the
environment, involve health risks and pose a public nuisance. When waste incinerators are used
to generate electricity, the resulting impact and risks are the sum of the effects of thermal power
generation and of the effects of the incinerators themselves without exploitation. The type and
volume of pollutants released into the atmosphere in generating electricity depend on which
fuels are used and on the measures used to control the pollution.
Table 79
Environmental impact and risks arising from thermal power stations and incinerators

                         Impact                        Thermal power stations       Incinerators
Emission of exhaust gases                                        x                       x
Rise in ambient temperature                                      x                       x
Heating of cooling water                                         x
Chemical discharges in cooling water                             x
Land use                                                         x                       x
Coastal use                                                      x
Subsoil use (pipes, cables)                                      x
Electromagnetic fields                                           x
Ash and slag from solid fuels                                    x                       x
Luxates                                                                                  x
Distressing odours                                                                       x
Increase in traffic in surrounding area                            x                     x
Changes to micro-climate caused by cooling towers                  x
Noise                                                              x
Visual impact of chimneys                                          x                     x
Chemical pollution of water                                        x                     x
Emission of dioxins, furans, and gases                                                   x
Pollution from ash and slag                                                              x
Fuel leaks                                                         x
Fires at transformers                                              x
Fires at fuel tanks                                                x
Source: Ecoserveis

Table 80
Main emissions from thermal power stations and their effects on the environment
   Effect      Water     CO2    NOx    CO    Dioxins    H2S   SO2      COV   Heavy      Particles
               vapour                                                        Metals
Greenhouse                x      x
Toxic                                   x       x        x
Acidifier                        x                             x
Ozone                            x
Ozone                                                                   x
Health                           x              x              x        x       x            x
Source: Ecoserveis

The FECSA and Besòs thermal stations are sited in the Sant Adrià de Besòs municipality. Their
NOx emissions range between 500 and 1,000 tonnes a year while SO2 emissions range between
3,000 and 3,500 tonnes a year.

Co-generation is much more environmentally friendly than conventional power generation
methods. The double use of energy increases the overall efficiency of the process and cuts losses
in the transmission and distribution of electricity, resulting in a better energy cycle. Thermal
power stations use fossil fuels. Co-generation reduces fuel requirements and hence the quantity
of emissions for each kilowatt produced. Because co-generation plants are dotted round the
region and are close to end users, people in these areas are more aware of the pollution caused
by energy use than they would be drawing electricity off the grid from remote power stations.
Gases emitted from power station chimneys carry a polluting plume which is dispersed and may
be carried far downwind. Small co-generators release gases a short distance from their sites and
in a more closed urban environment which tends to make pollution more local. In this case it is
local electricity consumers who suffer from the pollution produced.
The impact of the electricity grid
The distribution of electricity from a power station to customers produces a serious impact
because of the distribution network, transformers, and various elements for final distribution
(low voltage transformers, street poles, cables, service galleries, safety and control apparatus,
etc.). These items take up a considerable amount of space.

Table 81
Impact and risks associated with energy transport and the resources used in generating energy.
Impact                        Electricity     Distribution of solid fuels (lorry), liquids and gases
                              transmission                  (ship, lorry, or pipeline)
                                                 By lorry            By ship           By pipeline
Subsurface use                       x                                                      x
Land use                             x                                                      x
Highway use                          x               x
Airspace use                         x
Wharves                                                                 x
Visual impact                        x               x
Increase in shipping                                                    x
Increase in truck traffic                            x
Buildings affected                   x                                                     x
Effect on vegetation                 x
Electro-magnetic fields              x
Clearance                            x                                                     x
Transformer fires                    x
Forest fires                         x
Fuel leaks                                                                                 x
Explosion (leaks)                    x               x                  x                  x
Explosion (truck crashes)                            x
Explosion (ship collisions)                                             x
Electrocution                        x
Birds hitting towers &               x
Crashes of firefighting              x
Hang glider and parachutist          x
Source: Ecoserveis

The situation in the Barcelona Region is ridiculously complicated because there are no fewer
than three power utility companies, each with its own independent network. Their high voltage
power networks are poorly co-ordinated and there is no co-ordination whatsoever of low voltage
networks. To date, power lines have been built with a total disregard to environmental logic and
the path taken by existing infrastructure, often crossing many areas of natural interest (one need
look no further than the chaos in Collserola park for an example of this wanton lack of
planning) or through suburbs.

With regard to the impact caused by gas pipelines, gas leaks have shown a considerable
reduction (down to 2.5 million m3/year) thanks to almost complete renovation of the network,
the current figures being less than half of world standards. In the case of liquid fuels, the impact
associated with storage can be considerable. Thus petrol stations emit large quantities of volatile
organic compounds (VOCs) which can reach up to 60 tonnes a year for the stations along the
busiest routes (A-18, A-2, A-17) or in the streets of Barcelona, Sabadell and Terrassa where
petrol use is above average. A smaller, but still considerable quantity is lost from storage tanks
sited in the Barcelona Free Port (some 126 tonnes/year).

Finally, the use of energy by consumers causes serious environmental problems. The most
alarming is the amount of pollution caused by road traffic. According to 1990 data, 76% of air
pollution in the Barcelona Region comes from road traffic.

Table 82
Road traffic emissions and their share of total pollutant emissions.
Compounds          tonnes/year % of total
Methane               2,080            -
Alkanes               10,841           -
Alkenes               4,245            -
Aromatics             8,486            -
Aldehydes               546            -
Total VOC             26,198          56
NOx                   25,349          74
CO                   128,831          98
SO2                     648            6
Particles             1,181            7
Total pollutants     182,207          76
Source: Ecoserveis

The misuse and inefficient use of energy
A considerable part of the total energy used in the Metropolitan Area is wasted, partly because
of low efficiency in many systems and partly because of wasteful habits (excessive lighting or
lights left on, etc.). It is difficult to discover what proportion of energy is wasted in this way, but
it is reasonable to say it is a great deal. One only has to consider the amount of energy thrown
away because of environmentally inadequate architecture. The REMMA project (Residential
Energy Management in the Mediterranean Area) was drawn up by the European Commission in
1993 as part of the Thermie programme. It was one of various initiatives which sought a return
to the climate-conscious architecture of the old days and has been studiously ignored over the
last decades. These initiatives would also incorporate the latest technology. A total of 11
buildings (303 dwellings) were inaugurated in Castelldefels in 1995 as part of this project. The
buildings incorporated smart energy management and building materials (insulating walls, etc.,
SAV (solar, acoustic, ventilated) windows, solar panels, etc.). The energy savings achieved were
75% for heating water and 85% in heating costs. This meant a reduction of CO2 and NOx
emissions of 234 tonnes/year and 209 kg/year respectively and an annual electricity saving of
232 MWh. If all the dwellings in the Metropolitan Area (1,756,000 in 1991) were built to the
same standards there would be a huge saving - equivalent to 15 thermal power station like the
one at Foix, while CO2 emissions would be cut by 1,356,000 tonnes a year.

Much of the energy-related impact in the Barcelona Region stems from the use of large
centralised generating capacity which is obsolete or poorly suited to modern integrated energy
management. The transmission or transport of energy from production and transformation
centres to consumers at the point of supply requires a complex mesh of infrastructures which
take up a considerable amount of space and involve different kinds of risks. In the case of oil,
one cannot fail to be impressed by consumption in the form of hordes of private vehicles
cramming roads (built with cars in mind) and filling the air with traffic fumes.

What is required is a radical (but achievable) change in energy planning in the region.
Dependence on imported energy sources has to be reduced and progressively greater use made
of local, lower impact sources. Energy supply is undoubtedly a factor stimulating economic
development in the area but there has to be a move away from the notion of continued growth
towards one of sustainable development based on both the resources and the absorption capacity
of the region. New, clean technologies need to be promoted and land use and siting need to be
seriously re-examined. This two-pronged approach is indispensable if demand management is to
replace supply management.

Solid wastes and sewage sludge
8.1 Urban solid wastes (USW): generation, treatment, and                                     recovery
The generation of urban wastes in the counties making up the Barcelona Region is in line with European
norms. There are big seasonal and weekend fluctuations in the amount of waste generated. The whole
area produces 1,290,417 tonnes of urban waste a year (1996 figure), the balance between organic and
inorganic being 39% and 61% respectively. This means a per capita production of 1.23 kg/day or 450 kg
per person/year. It is interesting to note that in the mid 1970‟s, just some 20 years ago, only 0.6 kg per
person/day was produced. This spectacular rise is directly related to the increasing size and weight of
packaging materials and the growth in the inorganic urban waste fraction which has risen from 35-40%
of the total to the current 61%.

USW generation in the Barcelona Region
As in other Western cities, the proportion of organic material in household waste is falling in the
Barcelona Region while the amount of paper, cardboard, and plastic is steadily increasing. Distribution
networks (markets, etc.) and services (restaurants, etc.) produce a significant fraction of the organic part
of municipal waste. The management of these large producers of organic waste is essential for compost,
a resource which is in short supply.

Packaging is the second largest fraction by weight after organic material, although it occupies a
proportionately greater volume. The widespread adoption of throwaway packaging and over-packaging
has produced a considerable increase in this type of waste which now makes up around 30% of total
USW by weight and 60% by volume.

Table 83
Production of municipal waste in the Barcelona Region in 1995 (tonnes/year)
            County                       USW production            kg per capita/day (1991 census)
Alt Penedès                                   31,582                             1.24
Barcelonès (EMSHTR)*                        1,263,282                            1.14
Baix Llobregat                                42,207                             1.62
Garraf                                        53,156                             1.89
Maresme                                      172,282                             1.68
Vallès Occidental                            198,643                             1.17
Vallès Oriental                              121,741                             1.27
*Includes Barcelonès, Baix Llobregat and Vallès Occidental municipalities
Source: Department of the Environment. Catalan Government (

Table 84
Average composition of household waste (percentage by weight)
       Fraction                 Urban                 Semi-urban                         Rural
Organic material                 45                       45                              50
Paper & cardboard                25                       23                              20
Glass                             7                        8                               9
Plastics                             9                        6                         5
Metals                               4                        4                         4
Other                               10                       14                        12
Source: various

Some 30% of paper and cardboard produced is used for packaging (corrugated cardboard, compact
cartons, and Kraft paper). Newspapers and magazines now make up almost 7% of the total weight while
paper used for junk mailing uses up some 20,000 tonnes a year. Paper both by weight and volume makes
up the bulk of waste from offices. Cardboard, mainly from cardboard boxes, is produced by shopping
centres and distribution channels.

Plastics make up an increasing proportion of USW. Containers and wrapping account for 70% of the
plastic in waste in the Barcelona Metropolitan Area. Other types of packaging are present in smaller
quantities: 12,000 tonnes/year of tetrabricks, 31,000 tonnes/year of glass, and 23,000 tonnes/year of

It is estimated that some 12,000 tonnes/year of packaging contains special waste. Despite the fact they
only make up 0.2% of the total, they deserve separate mention because of their toxicity and the way they
hinder the recycling of other fractions (e.g. organic waste for compost).

Table 85
Current generation and make up of USW in the Barcelona Metropolitan Area

           Fraction                      Composition (%)                Generation (tonnes/year)
Organic material                              39                                503,263
Paper & Cardboard                            27.1                               349,703
Glass                                          7                                 90,329
Plastics                                      11                                141,946
Metals                                         4                                 51,517
Textiles                                      2.6                                33,551
Bulky waste                                   2.5                                32,260
Rubble                                        1.4                                18,066
Special                                       0.2                                2,581
Other                                         5.2                                67,102
            Total                             100                             1,290,417
Source: EMSHTR
Table 86
Large generators of organic waste in the Barcelona Metropolitan Area (1995)
                  Generators of organic waste                    Quantity produced (tonnes/year)
Municipal waste from pruning, plants, etc.                                    14,036
Wood potentially recyclable from forests in the Barcelona
Metropolitan Area                                                             10,815
        Collserola park (actual data)                                         3,500
Pruning waste from woody crops
Baix Llobregat                                                                9,778
        Alt and Baix Penedès, Garraf                                          39,450
Wood from industry and demolition                                             10,000
Mercabarna (main wholesale food market)                                       12,938
        Vegetable fraction                                                    9,445
        Animal fraction                                                       3,493
Markets (retail)                                                              31,816
        Vegetable fraction                                                    21,672
        Animal fraction                                                       10,145
Large shopping centres                                                        14,902
Hospitals                                                                     2,375
Hotels                                                                        2,198
Restaurants                                                                   25,224
Port Vell (leisure & shopping centre)                                          554
Olympic Port                                                                  1,035
Barcelona Port                                                                 216
Barcelona Airport                                                              125
Zoo                                                                             40
Tibidabo funfair                                                               4.2
Schools                                                                       3,076
University campus (Bellaterra) (household waste)                               431
University campus (Bellaterra) (“green” waste)                                 221
University campus (Diagonal, Barcelona)                                        403
                             Total                                           179,650
Source: EMSHTR

Current USW management
The management of urban solid wastes in the area is characterised by simplistic technology. In 1996,
965,318 tonnes were dumped in Garraf (or in smaller tips) and the remaining 352,726 were burnt at the
Sant Adrià or Moncada incinerators, generating 104,297 MW of electricity. Almost all municipalities
currently have very limited selective rubbish collection schemes of which only a small percentage is
recycled. The incinerator recovers iron from rubbish and the heat generated by waste incineration
produces some 350 kWh/tonne. Selective collection of paper and cardboard in the Barcelona Region
reached 17,791 tonnes in 1996,(6.1 kg/inh./year) - a significant increase compared with 10,712 tonnes in
1995 (3.5 kg/inh./year).

Table 87
Treatment of municipal waste (%)
       County                Controlled tips             Incineration            Recycling and
Alt Penedès                        14.5                      -                        85.5
Barcelonès                         69.2                     27.7                      3.1
Baix Llobregat                 100                     -                    -
Garraf                          -                      -                   100
Maresme                        2.9                   43.3                  53.8
Vallès Occidental             95.2                    4.8                   -
Vallès Oriental               98.8                    1.2                   -
*Includes Barcelonès, Baix Llobregat, and Vallès Occidental municipalities
 Source: Department of the Environment. Catalan Government (
Table 88
Number of municipal plants for waste management in service or planned (1996)

                  Type of plant                                  Number
         Manure pen                                                   0
         Composting and selection                                     5
       Controlled tips                                                4
       Incinerators                                                   3
Physical-chemical-biological                                          -
Hospital waste                                                        -
Collection and transfer centres                                       4
Junk yards                                                            9
Source: Department of the Environment. Catalan Government

Table 89
Selective collection of municipal waste by counties (tonnes/year)
    County               Glass            Paper             Batteries      Tins and
Alt Penedès
       1995               629.5            397.6              6.0             -
       1996              1,216.5          1,028.8            7,105          881.5
       1995             16,221.1          9,661.9            128.2            -
       1996             18,095.5         21,128.9           154.591        4,698.1
Baix Llobregat
       1995               503.0           567.7               3.3               -
       1996               635.0           682.0              5.621             22.0

         1995             917.6            488.7              4.1             -
         1996            1,475.2          1,509.7            8.802          872.7

      1995               2,406.7          1,378.8             10.6            -
      1996               3,067.2          3,603.3            13.404         955.9

Occidental               3,982.9          2,078.0             58.5            -
       1995              4,012.0          3,313.3            57.63          422.7

Vallès Oriental
       1995              1,660.1          417.2               20.2              -
       1996              2081.3           845.5              23.845            60.0
* Includes Barcelonès, Baix Llobregat, and Vallès Occidental municipalities
 Source: Department of the Environment. Catalan Government (

Glass collected from bottle banks was 18,000 tonnes in 1996 and the figure for paper is similar
(although there are slightly more bottle banks than paper banks). The weight of plastic, metal,
and tetrabricks collected is much less mainly because there are far fewer collection points
(yellow “igloos”) and because the bulk of this type of waste means each igloo holds actual
weight. This reflects experience abroad, particularly in France. There are many battery
collection points, even though there are some townships with relatively few battery banks per
head of population. Barcelona, with 2,238 ten litre containers and 237 fifty litre containers has
the highest ratio of inhabitants per container. Of the 374 tonnes of batteries collected, 1,500 kg
are of the button type.

Recycling plants are very thin on the ground. There are two composting plants, one in Torrelles
de Llobregat (6,000 tonnes/year) and another in Castelldefels which composts a limited quantity
of sewage sludge (1,115 tonnes) along with plant material from municipal pruning, etc. (2,361
tonnes). The Castelldefels plant was extended in 1997 to compost the organic components of
rubbish. A plant in Gavà-Viladecans recycles plastic, metal and tetrabrick containers (65-70% is
recycled while the remaining 30-35% is rejected and goes to the rubbish dump). The selection
part of the plant is being extended and a greater degree of automation introduced. The new plant
will be able to treat 22,000 tonnes/year instead of the current 3000 tonnes/year.

There is an Integrated Selection Plant for urban waste in Maresme county. This plant has the
capacity to treat all of the waste produced in the county and produces 65 MWh of electricity. It
is capable of treating 190,000 tonnes of waste a year and can recycle and produce compost (25
tonnes/hour in both cases). It takes 28 days to produce the compost from the raw material. The
amount of energy saved thanks to the recovery and sale of recycled materials is estimated at
33,500 MWh/year.

Junk collection centres cover particularly bulky or special waste. There are two in the EMSMTR
area, one in Torrelles de Llobregat and the other in Collserola (Barcelona) while the Sabadell
centre is the only one in operation in the other counties.
The Metropolitan Plan for Municipal Waste Management (MWP)

The collection and treatment of waste is a municipal responsibility, even though general
management of waste is carried out in collaboration with the Catalan Government through the
Waste Management Board. The Metropolitan Water and Waste Treatment Board and the
Metropolitan Board for the Environment play an important role in co-ordinating and managing
facilities and municipal services which require joint planning in their respective fields. The
Municipal Waste Programme, approved by the Waste Management Board, has established
stages up to the year 2000. The first covered the period 1995-97 for reaching voluntary
agreements with municipalities on selective collection of organic material and other waste
elements, and with manufacturers to reduce the volume of waste generated. The second stage
covers the period 1997-2000 with regulation in the management of municipal waste. The
measures adopted then will incorporate lessons from the first stage and are designed to affect
both production and consumption parts of the waste cycle.

The municipalities in the Metropolitan Area have not exactly been paragons of the best modern
waste management practices and thus they have a long way to go in recycling methods. So far
they have only aimed at getting rid of waste as cheaply as possible, dumping rubbish in some
remote corner where physical, chemical, and biological processes were left to take their course.
Management, if it can be called that, was limited to dumping in a limestone valley (Garraf) -
hardly an intelligent choice - or burning in incinerators equipped only to filter out smoke. The
recycling of materials whether organic or inorganic was insignificant and indeed the whole
notion was thought to be insignificant.

In this context the Metropolitan Plan for Municipal Waste Management, approved for the
Barcelona Metropolitan Area in 1997 by the Board for the Environment represents a giant leap
forward. The plans should be fully operational by 2006 when it is expected that 60% of the total
waste generated by the Area will be recycled and 30% will be selectively collected.

Table 90
Treatment of solid household waste (%)
        Treatment type                     1997                            2006
Inorganic recycling                          3                              30
Rubbish tip                                 69                               -
Composting                                   1                              12
Controlled dumps                             -                               7
Incineration                                27                              33
Methane production                           -                              18
Source: Barcelona Metropolitan Area

The Programme has established a number of organisational instruments, participation schemes,
and educational initiatives to guarantee the successful application of the Plan. These are:
The creation of a Metropolitan Waste Agency to carry out the works and build the plants for the
The creation of a Metropolitan Agency for Building Rubble Management.
The setting up of Metrocompost, a company which will manage composting plants.
The creation of a Programme Monitoring Commission, comprising public, academic, trade
   union bodies and environmental organisations.
The publication of a “Waste Magazine”, produced twice monthly and containing monographic
An environmental awareness programme aimed at maximising use of junk collection centres.

The plants planned for the programme for the collection and treatment of waste are as follows:
41 junk collection points for which money has already been found. There are 9 in operation:
   Collserola, the Olympic Village, Torrelles, Montcada i Reixac, Sant Feliu de Llobregat,
   Castelldefels, Badalona, Sant Vicenç dels Horts, and Gavà-Viladecans (the last three are
   awaiting inauguration). Two are currently being built (Cerdanyola and El Prat de Llobregat).
   One is awaiting landscape gardening (Sant Just Desvern). Two are in the planning stage
   (Castellbispal and the Barcelona Autonomous University), and there will be building projects
   for a further five, once sites have been chosen (Molins de Rei, Begues, Santa Coloma de
   Cervelló, Esplugues de Llobregat, and Hospitalet).
There are currently two composting plants in operation: one at Castelldefels with a capacity of
   2,000 tonnes/year and another at Torrelles which can produce 6,000 tonnes/year. There is a
   plan for the progressive introduction of organic material at both plants. There is funding for a
   further two plants (Cerdanyola and Baix Llobregat) with construction to begin in 1998.
The programme also includes 3 methane gas production plants whose specifications and
   operating conditions are being drawn up. The plants will operate beside composting plants
   and will be called “Eco parks”.
Work is underway at the Besòs and Montcada incinerators to scrub exhaust gases and bring
   them in line with the emission standards laid down by the European Union.
A luxate treatment plant is currently being built at the Garraf rubbish tip. The possibility of
   biogas generation is under study.
A selection plant has recently been inaugurated at Gavà-Viladecans with a capacity for
   processing 2,000 tonnes/year. The container selection line is already operating. Another
   selection plant at Molins de Rei (forming part of the Waste Reduction Project) is being built.

With regard to selective collection, there are various pilot projects underway for the collection
of organic material, glass, paper, plastics, metals, and tetrabricks in various parts of the
Barcelona Metropolitan Area. All municipal authorities have now introduced selective
collection with bottle and paper/cardboard banks.

Table 91
Recycling and rejection targets in the Metropolitan Plan for Municipal Waste Management Plan
(MWP) (as a % of total municipal waste)
                         1999               2001              2003              2006
Organic material          5.6               22.8               26.3             29.9
Compost                   5.6                7.8                9.6             12.4
Methane                    0                15.0               16.7             17.5
Inorganic                16.1               19.8               23.9             30.1
Total recycled           21.7               42.6               50.2              60
Controlled                 51               26.4               18.5              7.1
Incineration             27.3                31                31.3             32.9
Total rejected           78.3               57.2               49.8              40
Total waste               100               100                100              100
Source: Barcelona Metropolitan Area
These measures will not meet their objectives if it remains cheaper to dump or burn rubbish
than to re-use or re-cycle it. Determination is required to meet the challenges of putting the plan
into practice, changing consumption strategies and, most importantly, fitting the cost of
ecologically sound treatment of waste into the country”s budget. Incineration and dumping from
the standpoint of sustainable development can never be cheaper than recycling resources to
bring them back into the productive cycle.

Although it is hard to predict solid waste production and treatment trends for the period 2005-
2010 there are some conclusions which one can extract from statements made by the EU
Commission and Parliament (Community statement of 18th September 1989 on waste
management strategy; revision of that strategy on 1st August 1996; various directives concerning
waste; and the effect of packaging regulations, which some Central European countries already
apply). These conclusions are:

Cutting down both the volume and hazard represented by waste should be the main priority.
Manufacturers must collaborate in reducing waste and facilitating waste treatment through
  responsible product design and production.
The EU and its member states shall set quantitative targets for reducing waste and for re-use,
  recycling, and selection.
A high proportion of waste shall be subject to selection and separation with a view to reducing
  rejection rates and general treatment. The priority accorded shall be the following (listed in
  descending order): re-use; recycling; composting; and energy generation from waste.
Waste treatment systems shall form part of integrated management schemes with waste
  prevention and minimisation as their starting points and include all stages of the process to
  final disposal.
The EU shall determine Directives covering the whole waste management cycle and shall base
  its decisions on environmental audits and other germane information.

The application of Packaging Regulations in member states should reduce the amount of
  packaging finding its way into domestic waste. More reusable bottles should be used for
  beverages. One should note the impact of these regulations in Germany has involved some

          High cost, paid by “Das Grüne Punkt” system for selective collection and
          separation, the use of recovered materials and management of rejected ones.

          A big increase in the quantity of recovered packaging which cannot be absorbed by
local markets and is thus “exported” abroad, prejudicing the receivers.
Table 92
Comparative analysis of compost production and methane production
                            Aerobic composting      Anaerobic digestion     Remarks
                            (AC)                    (AD)
Energy                      Net consumption of      Net production of       AC contributes to larger
                            energy                  energy                  CO2 emissions and
                                                                            consumes fossil fuels
                                                                            AD requires subsequent
Final products              Compost                 Sludge suitable for     treatment to produce
                                                    compost, methane        compost

                                                                            AD requires greater
Complexity                  Simple technology       Complex technology      investment

Hygiene                     Can be guaranteed with Guaranteed in hot
                            good controls          process
                                                                            Maybe required in post-
Structural matrix           Required                Neither required nor    treatment of AD but
                                                    desirable               there are alternatives

Waste discharges            Produces luxates         Produces waste water
                            depending on the initial requiring subsequent
                            water content in the     treatment
                            substrate                                       Ammonia emissions are
                                                                            higher in AC
Smell in reception and      Smelly air may be used Air for process has to
pre-treatment areas         in process             be pure
                                                                            Ammonia emissions are
Smell in treatment area                                                     higher in AC
                            Requires treatment      No emissions during
Smell in post-treatment                             the process             Ammonia emissions are
area and storage facility                                                   higher in CA
                            Very smelly             Requires treatment

                                                                            When methane from the
CO2 emission                                                                AD process is burnt the
                            high                    low                     CO2 emission is similar
                                                                            to AC. However fuel
                                                                            reduces the use of other
                                                                            fossil fuels and thus
                                                                            leads to an overall
                                                                            reduction in emissions

                                                                            This factor may be of
                                                                            economic importance or
                                                                            have an impact on the
Space taken up                                                              landscape (AD
                            Depends on system       Little                  buildings are higher)
Source: Metropolitan Plan for Municipal Waste Management
8.2 Sewage sludge: generation, treatment, and uses
Sewage sludge has traditionally proved difficult to dispose of. However, modern treatment
systems have converted this residue into a useful resource as a substitute for chemical fertilisers.
Recycling also saves energy compared with previous disposal methods.

Sludge generation and management
A large part of the sewage treated in Catalonia is generated in the Barcelona Region (with the
equivalent of 9 million inhabitants compared with 11 million in Catalonia). Most of the solid
content of this sewage is concentrated into sludge whose characteristics vary according to the
treatment provided at each plant. Generally speaking, the organic content in the sludge is more
or less decomposed (40-50%). Sludge contains concentrations of heavy metals (if no industrial
wastewater is treated at the plant, these heavy metal levels are low enough to allow sludge
application to farming land). Water content varies between 1% and 99% depending on the
treatment adopted (sewage sludge usually contains between 15% and 30% dry matter). It also
contains a large number of pathogenic micro-organisms.

At the moment, most sewage sludge is dumped at sea or in rubbish tips. Sea dumping takes
place through offshore outlets and is the solution adopted to date at the Besòs waste treatment
plant. The EU Directive 271/CEE will ban this practice in the near future. With regard to
dumping of sludge on rubbish tips, this will be subject to regulation in the near future and
practically banned under the proposals of a draft EU Directive on rubbish tips, only allowing a
very low content of fermentable organic material. These regulations will also require
stabilisation of the organic content prior to dumping at tips.

Table 93
Forecast volume of raw sewage sludge generated by wastewater treatment plants in the
Barcelona Region (forecast for 1999)
Area                                              Volume of raw sludge
Baix Llobregat                                           45,178
Barcelonès                                              218,287
Garraf                                                   12,231
Maresme                                                  17,547
Vallès Occidental                                        70,937
Vallès Oriental                                          27,314
Total                                                   391,494

Sludge treatment policy has traditionally been part of the job of the manager of each plant who,
until recently, had imprecise guidelines to follow. The Sludge Treatment Programme produced
by the Sewage Board has made matters a little clearer. The purpose of the programme, set out in
its introductory chapter, is “to define the choices available for disposal of sewage sludge
produced in municipal wastewater treatment plants in Catalonia”. The basic criteria for deciding
the final destination of sewage sludge are:
Reduction of the amount of sludge produced
Sludge evaluation
Minimal environmental impact
Cost effectiveness
Adoption of proven technologies
Treatment simplification
Compliance with current legislation
Public acceptance of proposed solutions

The programme is based on sludge production data from 1993 (20.4 million tonnes) and
foresees treatment of 35.4 million tonnes in 1998. It must be said that it is practically impossible
to verify the data in the programme because of their form of presentation and the ambiguities in
the text.

The first criterion in the programme covers reduction in the amount of sludge produced.
However, the measures planned concentrate on reducing the volume produced, which is
achieved by subsequent treatment aimed at reducing its initial water content (approximately
99%). In 1993, 93% of raw sludge was handled in its original (virtually liquid) form and only
1% was dealt with in press filters and 6% in side filters. The plans for 1998 include reducing
handling of raw sludge to 13% of the total and an increase in press filter treatment to 13.3% and
side filter treatment to 12.8%. The plans include two new treatments: heat drying (intended for
48.3% of the total) and composting for the rest (12.6%). None of these treatments does anything
to reduce nutrient or pollutant content. With the exception of composting (where the sludge is
upgraded so that it can subsequently be used as fertilizer), treatment processes are limited to
making it easier to handle and so reduce transport costs and dumping problems by cutting down
its volume. The quantity of nutrients and pollutants dumped into the environment thus remains

Another of the priority criteria adopted by the programme is the evaluation of sludge or (what
comes to the same thing), turning it from waste into a resource. The programme is based on the
1993 situation when only 4% of sludge was turned into fertiliser. The remaining 96% was
disposed of as waste (90% straight into the sea and the remaining 6% on to rubbish dumps).
Following the EU regulations which forbid the dumping of sewage sludge at sea, the
Programme sets the re-use alternatives for 1998 as follows: 50.6% of sludge for use as fertilisers
(farming, mine land restoration schemes, barren land), 39.5 to be dumped in tips, and 8.9% to
be dumped at special sites. The remaining 1% will be used in products such as the “ecobrick”
and other items for the building industry (bases, sub-bases, and pre-fabricated elements).

Possible uses for sewage sludge
If sewage sludge is to be used as fertiliser its quality is paramount. The use of sludge produced
by physico-chemical treatment plants with a heavy metal content above that permitted by the
EU is ruled out. Despite the control measures adopted by the programme there remains the
question of just how much sludge the land can take without suffering from undesirable effects
that would also interfere with other objectives contained in the plan (such as how to prevent
excessive nitrogen and phosphorus levels in soils and water or the progressive and cumulative
dispersion of toxins throughout the region).

Table 94
Sewage sludge treatment plants in operation or under construction (April 1997)
Township       Treatment
Granollers     Heat drying
Sabadell      Heat drying
Montornès     Heat drying
Rubí          Heat drying
Teià          Composting
Mataró        Heat drying
Source: Department of the Environment. Catalan Government

Some of the sludge generated in Catalonia is clearly unsuitable for application as fertiliser
because of its unacceptably high pollutant load. The programme mentions the possibility of this
being sent to special tips. However, there are reservations regarding this proposal (which would
take sludge from 14 treatment plants) because of the cost and complexity of the necessary
installations and public protest at the idea. The dumping of this sludge (along with other urban
waste) is the option finally chosen in the programme, although this involves reducing water
content to below 65%. This ignores the fact that this sludge is too polluted for use on the land
and its toxin content demand that it be considered as industrial waste.

A final possibility, strongly encouraged in the programme, is the manufacture of products such
as the “ecobrick” which involves mixing sewage sludge with clay. The firing temperature is
1000C which means the organic fractions burn off, leaving holes in the fired clay. These holes
produce a low-density brick with good insulating properties. However, despite the “eco” prefix,
the whole process is just another way of incinerating sludge. Although the heavy metals are
immobilised in the brick matrix one should not forget that during the firing process the gases
released into the atmosphere contain residues with varying grades of toxicity.
Table 95
Options for disposing of and using sewage sludge
Disposal     with transformation       Composting              To tip if no market
                                       Heat drying             Rubbish tip
                                       Incineration            Ashes to rubbish tip
                                                               Specific uses (bricks)
             no transformation          Direct application     To tip
                                                               Purpose-made ditches
Re-use       with transformation        Composting             Agriculture Gardening
Re-cycling                                                     Quarry, Open cast mine and
                                                               Spoil heap restoration
                                                               Recovery of barren/abandoned
                                                               Landscape gardening for civil
                                                               engineering works
                                        Heat drying            Landscape gardening
                                                               Ecological alternatives
                                        Incineration           Agriculture
                                                               Ecological alternatives
                                        New technologies       Bricks
                                                               Road underlay
             without transformation     Direct application     Agriculture Gardening
                                                               Quarry, Open cast mine and
                                                               Spoil heap restoration
                                                               Recovery of barren/abandoned
                                                               Landscape gardening for civil
                                                                engineering works
                                                               Ecological alternatives

Source: Miquel Salgot (modification of Llagostera et al., 1996)

Table 96
Urban sewage sludge content
                  Item                  Primary        Secondary (activated sludge)   Digested
Solids in suspension (g/inh./day)        30-36                    18-29                31-40
Water (%)                                92-96                  97.5-98                94-97
VSS (%) Volatile solids in suspension    70-80                    80-90                55-65
Fats (% solids in suspension, SS)        12-16                     3-5                 4-12
Proteins (%SS)                            4-14                    20-30                10-20
Carbohydrates (%SS)                       8-10                     6-8                  5-8
pH                                      5.5-6.5                  6.5-7.5              6.8-7.6
Phosphorus (%SS)                          3-4                      3-4                  3-4
Nitrogen (%SS)                           2-5                 1-6           3-7
                                         3    5
Pathogenic micro-organisms (per ml)    10 -10             100-1000       10-100
Parasites (per ml)                      8-12                 1-3           1-3
Heavy metals (%SS)                      0.2-2               0.2-2         0.2-2
Amount sludge (l/inh./day)              0.70                1.70          0.90
Source: Waste Board. Department of the Environment. Catalan Government
Table 97
Sludge volume and treatment and post-treatment systems at wastewater plants in the Barcelona
Region (forecast for 1999).
BLL: Baix Llobregat/ BCN: Barcelonès/ GRF: Garraf/ MAR: Maresme/ VOC: Vallès Occidental/
VOR: Vallès Oriental
Wastewater Plant           Raw material   Sludge treatment                                  Post-treatment                 Rem
(county)                   (tonnes)
Abrera BLL                      9,059     Anaerobic digestion/Centrifuge                    Heat drying at Rubí            Spec
Aiguafreda VOR                   158      Side filter                                       -                              Appl
l‟Arboç-Marmellà GRF             630      Side filter                                       l‟Arboç-Gomal (Penedes)        Appl
Arenys de Mar MAR               4,107     Side filter                                       composting at Pineda de Mar    Appl
Begues BLL                       680      -                                                 -                              Appl
Besòs BCN Nord                170,517     Currently physico-chemical/Press filter           Heat drying                    Rubb
Bigues i Rielles VOR            1,941     -                                                 -                              Sewa
Caldes de Montbuí VOR           1,323     Side filter                                       Heat drying at Granollers      Spec
Canyamars MAR                    377      -                                                 -                              Appl
Canyelles GRF                 no data     no data                                           to Sitges.Sant Pere de Ribes   Appl
Cardedeu-La Roca VOR            1,622     Press filter                                      -                              Appl
Castellar del Vallès VOR        3,100     Side filter                                       to Sabadell-Riu Sec            Spec
Castellet GRF                    337      -                                                 -                              Appl
Corbera-Rafamans BLL          no data     -                                                 to Sant Feliu del Llobregat    Tip/
Corbera-Riera BLL             no data                                                       to Sant Feliu del Llobregat    Tip/
Cubelles-Cunit GRF               283      Aerobic digestion/ Press filter                   -                              Appl
La Garriga VOR                  1,232     Side filter                                       Heat drying at Granollers      Spec
Gavà-Viladecans BLL            21,959     Anaerobic digestion/centrifuge                    Subsequent pressing            Parti
Granollers VOR                7,681       Anaerobic digestion/ Side filter                  Heat drying                    Spec
La Llagosta VOR               3,726       Currently physico-chemical/Anaerobic digestion/   Heat drying at Granollers      Spec
                                          centrifuge being enlarged
Martorell BLL                 4,100       Anaerobic digestion/ Side filter                  -                              Appl
Mataró MAR                    5,245       Side filter                                       Heat drying                    Incin
Montcada VOC                        no data       no data                             to Besòs
Montornès del Vallès VOR             2,375        Anaerobic digestion/Centrifuge      Heat drying
Òrrius MAR                            272         -                                   -
Pineda de Mar MAR                    5,504        Press filter                        Composting with Arenys
El Prat de Llobregat BCN Sud        47,693        Anaerobic digestion/ Press filter   Thermal drying
Rubí VOC                            12,606        Anaerobic digestion/Side filter     Thermal drying with Ter
Sabadell-Riu Ripoll VOC              18,560       Side filter                         Thermal drying at Sabad
Sabadell-Riu Sec VOC                 10,889       Anaerobic digestion/ Side filter    Thermal drying with Sab
                                                                                      Ripoll & Castellar del Va
Sant Andreu de Llaveneres MAR         422         Anaerobic digestion/ Press filter   -
Sant Antoni de Vilamajor VOR          207         Side filter                         -
Sant Celoni VOR                      2,314        Side filter                         -
Sant Feliu de Codines VOR             211         Side filter                         -
Sant Feliu de Llobregat BLL          9,380        Anaerobic digestion/ Press filter   Heat drying
Sant Llorenç Savall VOC               151         Side filter                         -
Sant Pol de Mar MAR                   270         Anaerobic digestion/ Press filter   -
Sant Quirze Safaja VOR                652         Side filter                         -
Santa Eulàlia de Ronçana VOR          341         Side filter                         -
Santa Maria de Palautordera VOR       348         Side filter                         -
Sitges GRF                            159         -                                   -
Sitges-Sant Pere de Ribes GRF        3,320        Side filter                         Composting at Vilanova
Teià MAR                              867         Side filter/Centrifuge              -
Terrassa VOC                        28,323        Anaerobic digestion/ Side filter    Heat drying at Rubí
Tordera MAR                           483         Centrifuge                          -
Vacarisses VOC                         66         Side filter                         -
Vallgorguina VOR                      290         -                                   -
Vallromanes VOR                     no data       Side filter                         -
Vallvidrera BCN                        77         Side filter                         -
Viladecavalls-Se VOC                  166         Side filter                         -
Viladecavalls-So VOC                  166         Side filter                         -
Vilanova i la Geltrú GRF          Active earths   Press filter                        Composting with Sitges,
                                                                                      de Rives and Vilafranca
Source: Sewage Board

Health and air quality
9.1 The effects of air pollution on health
The effects of episodes of extreme air pollution (smog) on health have been recognised in the USA
and Europe for over 40 years. At that time measures were begun to reduce the particle and sulphur
dioxide levels that were symptomatic of the problem . Levels considered safe were achieved in the
1980s, but recent studies have raised serious doubts about the effectiveness of clean air legislation
standards. The APHEA (Air Pollution and Health: a European Approach) project carried out the
first multi-city survey of serious episodes of air pollution in 15 cities covering 10 countries and
came up with some shocking results. The study concluded that: (1) there is a demonstrable
relationship between increased daily levels of SO2, black smokes, and particles of less than 10 µm
and a daily increase in mortality rates (between 2% and 3%); (2) Continuous exposure to these
pollution levels over three days has a greater effect on health than the combined effects of exposure
on three isolated days; (3) During these prolonged pollution episodes, cardiovascular deaths
increase by 2% due to particle exposure and by 4% due to SO2 exposure; (4) Sulphur dioxide
causes a 4% increase in daily respiratory deaths while particles are responsible for a 5% increase;
and (5) Nitrogen dioxide and ozone are also associated with an increase in death rates, albeit to a
lesser extent.

Epidemiology and health measures
The effects of air pollution on health make up a complex field of study, given the complex
interactions and synergies possible with a wide range of pollutants. Patients with mild asthma are
affected by ozone and nitrogen dioxide, while sulphur compounds increase bronchial sensitivity to
allergens. Experiments on laboratory animals and volunteers have shown that particles produce
much severer inflammation of the bronchial tract than gases such as sulphur dioxide. The most
plausible explanation is that pollutants in the form of small particles (such as those produced by
diesel engines) are the most toxic while gases (such as SO2, NO2, and ozone) aggravate the action
of particles. What is not known is which particles are most toxic.

Despite the doubts surrounding the precise toxic mechanisms at work, the large number of people
affected has led governments to take the matter seriously and consider measures to deal with the
problem. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in the US has begun revising standards
covering particles in suspension and plans to reduce both maximum total levels and introduce
measurement of the smallest particles (which are not currently taken into account). The French
government has taken measures such as free provision of public transport and prohibition of private
vehicles during pollution alerts (with the sole exception of zero emission vehicles, of which there
are still very few). Germany and Italy are also taking measures to curb road traffic.

Sewage treatment is a relatively simple affair which involves earmarking resources for a particular
site. Air pollution, on the other hand, is vastly more complicated since it occurs in a changeable,
ever-present medium which is essential to life. Pollution emissions from a given source can be
transported elsewhere, sometimes far from the point of origin, depending on weather conditions.
Thus pollutants produced in the centre of Barcelona or coastal municipalities can waft through
natural corridors along the pre-coastal range and reach the Vallès plain (or vice versa if winds blow
against the prevailing direction). The sheer density of the road network has led to vehicle exhaust
spreading far beyond urban centres and it now affects the whole metropolitan area to a greater or
lesser degree.

The population is thus constantly subject to a background level of air pollution whose effects have
been little studied. The health risks associated with peak pollution levels are somewhat better
known. High air pollution levels occur when stable air conditions reign in areas with high
emissions. These stable conditions occur frequently in the area during Summer because of high
pressure areas which stay over the region. Temperature inversion is yet another cause of stable air
conditions on the coastal plain. This inversion facilitates air layering which further hinders
dispersion of urban and industrial airborne pollutants.

The Baix Llobregat population is the most affected by serious episodes of air pollution, as this
location is the site of various types of emission sources. Thus the concentration of black smoke
(mainly from traffic) at Martorell close to the N-11 road was double the legal limit in 1995-96. The
main problem at Sant Andreu de la Barca is the concentration of particles of diverse origin whose
1995 average annual level was 31% over the legal limit. There are periodic episodes of sulphuric
acid pollution in Prat de Llobregat which breached legal limits 8 days out of 10 in 1996 (the
probable culprit being the La Seda factory but the Protected Zone of Baix Llobregat is far from
being the only area affected. The 1996 average annual level of particles lay 11% above legal limits
in Mollet del Vallès and 15% above in Santa Coloma de Gramanet. The high risk periods for ozone
pollution tend to be in the Summer months. There were no fewer than 40 such episodes in July
1996, most of them in Montcada and Badalona.

The Barcelona Region has established pollution standards but has not established what action
should be taken once the limits have been exceeded. In the case of ozone, the regulations merely
refer to a requirement to issue a public warning when levels exceed 180 g/m3. In such cases those
most at risk (children, the elderly, those affected by respiratory difficulties) are advised to refrain
from exercise, particularly in the open air. If the concentration exceeds 360 g/m3 the form of
advice is merely made stronger.

Apart from episodes of airborne chemical pollution (which periodically affects urban areas in the
Metropolitan Region in general and Barcelona and its surroundings in particular), there is also the
problem of soya flour dust. Unloading of soya flour was responsible for several outbreaks of asthma
and other respiratory afflictions in the 1980s and 90s. Since then the storage silos have been fitted
with filters to stop the escape of flour dust. Although this has improved the situation, unloading still
releases some dust and if this coincides with high levels of other pollutants, it is enough to spark off
further outbreaks of respiratory illness.

The outlook for improvement in air quality in the Barcelona area is variable. Controlling black
smoke (mainly produced by traffic) represents a worrying problem, especially when one considers
that 98% of the carbon monoxide produced in Barcelona comes from this source. Attempts have
been made to improve the situation through measures such as the building of the city ring roads.
These ring roads initially reduced decongestion. The even flow of traffic and better driving manners
reduced these pollutants by 30%. However (as is so often the case) the new roads merely served as
an open invitation to use private vehicles. Now that the new roads have reached saturation point,
pollution levels are creeping up again and threaten a return (or worse) to the situation of a few years
ago. Obviously the solution to air pollution is not making it easier to use one‟s car but precisely the
opposite. Given that restrictive measures are badly received by the general public, one has to
provide good public transport as an alternative and to promote cleaner forms of private and public
transport. The need for mobility has to met while guaranteeing the population‟s health.
Sources of pollution and other noxious elements
Air pollution from fixed sources (especially industries, petrol stations, and fuel storage tanks) is
controlled by regulating emission levels. The idea is to apply clean technologies and processes and
this requires investment. Controlling pollution associated with treatment of solid urban waste is a
more complex problem. Incineration has been little used in Spain so far but there is a trend in this
direction with the building of a number of plants over the last few years. The building of a large
plant is being considered in the Free Port area - currently ruled out in the recently approved (1997)
Metropolitan Municipal Waste Management Plan. If it were built, it would join the two incinerators
currently in service in the Metropolitan Area (Montcada i Reixac and Sant Adrià de Besòs). The
main emissions from incinerators fall into three groups: (1) particles and gases (NO2, CO, HNO3),
the effects of which have already been mentioned; (2) heavy metals (cadmium, lead, arsenic,
mercury, chrome, beryllium, etc.); and (3) organochlorides (dioxins, furans), which are not only
produced by incinerators but also by processes used in the paper and metal industries. The
population is exposed to dioxins through the food chain and particularly from foodstuffs containing
fat. The foods most likely to contain dioxins are beef, dairy products, chicken, and pork. Dioxin
exposure has been linked to a wide range of effects on health. Animals exposed to low doses show
changes: in their reproductive systems, in their development, in their immune response, cancer in
various organs. Epidemiological studies in human populations show a slight overall increase in risk
by workers exposed to dioxins. TCDD is considered the most toxic of these substances and the
World Health Organisation has classified it as a carcinogen (group 1, 1997).

Heavy metal pollution comes from a variety of sources apart from waste incinerators and including
cigarettes and car exhausts. Chronic exposure to cadmium is associated with renal problems.
Cadmium is classified by the World Health Organisation as a human carcinogen (group 1) linked to
lung cancer. Low doses of lead are associated with impeded development of motor skills in
children. Other metals are associated with renal and encephalic diseases (mercury), neurological
problems and cancer (arsenic), skill loss, respiratory illness, and cancer (chrome). Beryllium is also
associated with respiratory illness and cancer. Except in the case of lead, such effects are only
observed at exposure levels considerably higher than those released by incinerators.

Incinerators are sited close to urban centres to cut down transport costs from point of origin to the
plant. However local residents are unenthusiastic about having an incinerator on their doorstep and
cite lack of information on health dangers as a reason. However, if the plants are sited far from
towns this does not solve the problem of pollutants getting into the food chain (since it is the rural
areas, far from towns which produce the food). Nowadays there are various complementary ways of
dealing with urban waste including recycling, re-use, rendering waste inert, and storage. Any
reasonable waste treatment plan should integrate its approach to reducing pollution with the
treatment of the waste, giving priority to those methods which provide the best guarantees for
public health. Building incinerators would not appear to meet this criterion.
9.2 Health effects of noise
The main responsibility for noise pollution in the city, as also for air pollution belongs to traffic.
Noise is normally caused by rapid consumption of energy. Like movement, noise is a variable
closely linked to the functioning of modern cities and solving the problem of noise would mean
changing the pattern of movement in the city. This is why there are no standard permitted noise
levels, whether at the regional, national, or EU level. Stopping the noise would mean a radical
change to the current system of transport. No one seems bold enough to tackle the problem in a
general way and those who have looked into the problem can see how all the standards are
systematically ignored.

Traffic and street noise
If the average daily volume (ADV) of traffic is compared with the noise levels measured in the
same streets
, these can be divided into three main groups: (1) main roads linking districts with traffic volumes
of 25,000 to 80,000 vehicles/day and noise levels over 74 dBA but generally between 76 and 79
dBA; (2) roads with traffic volumes of between 4,500 and 25,000 vehicles/day (i.e. main roads
within a district) and noise levels over 65 dBA but generally between 64 and 68 dBA; and (3) roads
carrying less than 1,000 vehicles/day, with noise levels over 55 dBA but generally between 62 68

Table 98
Noise levels produced by city traffic
      Nº of vehicles a day                   daily dBA                     most common daily
<1000                                      55-68                                 62-68
1000-4500                                  64-69                                 64-68
4500-25000                                 65-75                                 70-75
25000-10000                                75-80                                 76-79
Source: Sound map of Barcelona (U.O.G.A., 1990)

Table 99
Maximum noise levels in dBA according to the mechanical state of the vehicle
                                      In good condition                  In bad condition
Motorcycles & scooters                       <75                              85-95
Cars                                         <78                              80-92
Vans, small lorries                          <80                              90-95
Heavy vehicles                               <85                              95-100
Source: Noise map of Barcelona (U.O.G.A., 1990)

The top layer of the road produces a good part of the noise for vehicles travelling at over 50
km/hour. The road noise comes from transverse and longitudinal grooves in the road surface,
surface irregularities, grain size, and the use of compact or porous surfaces. Other things being
equal, the use of one or other type of road surface can produce significant differences in road noise
(about 3 dBA less for well-maintained roads). Noise reducing road surfaces can cut noise by
between 2 and 8 dBA, depending on their specifications and particularly on the depth of the top

Table 100
Relationship between noise levels (dBA) and vehicle speeds
   Vehicle type          Speed            Road noise       Engine noise   Total
Heavy                    20 kph               61               78          78
Light                    20 kph               58               64          65
Heavy                    60 kph               79               85          86
Light                    60 kph               76               74          78
Source: “Ecologia urbana” (Urban ecology) (Salvador Rueda)
Figure 6
Traffic volume and noise levels (comparison of roads with heavy and light traffic)

Leq. (dBA), Road with heavy traffic          Veh./hr (log), Road with heavy traffic
Leq. (dBA), Road with light traffic          Veh./hr (log), Road with light traffic

Source: Noise map of Barcelona (U.O.G.A., 1990)

When there are road works, noise levels increase between 8 and 12 dBA. Roads with noise levels
over 70 dBA increase by two colour bands on the noise map (i.e. between 5 and 10 dBA) while
roads with a noise level below 70 dBA increase by over 10 dBA. One should note that there is
machinery on the market with much lower noise outputs (at least 4 dBA quieter) than that normally
used here.

The leisure facilities which cause the biggest nuisance are those open late at night, since they can
raise the decibel level in the street to a very noticeable extent at certain times of night. The
problems of too much noise in the street are usually caused when the clients leave the premises,
sometimes because they leave in groups which talk loudly among themselves (remember, they may
be coming from a disco where the background noise level could be 90 dBA or more and they are
likely to have been drinking), sometimes because they are moving to another establishment nearby
and sometimes because they rev up motorbikes and cars.
The daily noise pattern and emission sources

Noise in the city follows a daily pattern. Between 0800 and 2200 hours, the noise is almost
constant. From then until 0400 hours the noise progressively diminishes. From 0500 the noise level
increases again until 0800 when it levels out at the level which will be maintained during the day.

Table 101
Surface area of Barcelona (%) affected by different daily and nightly noise ranges
          Leq in dBA                   0800 hrs to 2200 hrs               2200 hrs to 0800 hrs
75-80                                           0.2                                0.2
70-75                                           13.5                               14.9
65-70                                           16.3                               15.3
60-65                                           17.4                               4.7
55-60                                           22.4                               36.8
50-55                                           18.9                               18.3
45-50                                           9.3                                7.7
40-45                                            2                                 2.1
Source: Noise map of Barcelona (U.O.G.A., 1990)

The noise level from traffic suffered by city dwellers depends on a number of factors including the
type of vehicle and the road characteristics. Another important factor is the state of repair of
vehicles, which is also is strongly linked to their use. The noise made by an individual vehicle
comes from different parts of its structure. In a light vehicle, 30% of the noise comes from the
engine and gears, 10% from the air inlet, 45% from the exhaust pipe, 10% from the cooling system,
and 5% from road noise. The road surface plays an important role in propagating or dampening
road noise. Porous road surfaces reduce roadside noise levels by up to 3 dBA compared to
conventional surfaces. Vehicle speed is also a factor of considerable importance in determining
traffic noise in cities.

Apart from the above noise factors, which are more or less linked to vehicle types and driving
habits, one should also bear in mind the importance of town planning. Open designs for roads,
design of buildings and their siting relative to noise sources and - most important - routing heavy
traffic along expressways, all play a rôle in tackling the noise problem. In particular, roads running
in a kind of concrete canyon (i.e. buildings lining the thoroughfare higher than the width of the
road) tend to magnify the sound of the noisiest vehicles. The low frequency rumble typical when
vehicles are stopped in jams or at traffic lights is much more irritating than the noise produced
when traffic flows well.

Noise inside buildings
The sound insulation provided by a sample of 464 dwellings in Barcelona ranged between less than
15 dBA in 8 cases to over 30 dBA in 46 cases. However the most common sound attenuation value
was between 20 and 24 dBA (197 dwellings) and between 25 dBA and 29 dBA (182 dwellings).

Comparing this with the values recommended in the Basic Building Regulations (NBE-CA-82) one
can say that under 16% of the sample dwellings had an interior noise level of less than 45 dBA and
only one under 35 dBA. These are the recommended maximums for daytime sound levels. Only
10% of the dwellings examined had sound insulation which met or exceeded the minimum
standards laid down in the regulations. Apart from the fact that 90% did not comply with insulation
standards, 84% also had a higher level of interior sound than that permitted. The actual noise
attenuation in the sample dwellings indicates that outside noise levels must not exceed 69 dBA if
the inside level is to stay under 45 dBA. By the same token, outside noise must not exceed 54 dBA
if the inside noise is to remain under 30 dBA. These maximum inside noise levels are set by the
Barcelona by-laws for a bedroom during the day.
Table 102
The % area of Barcelona city districts exposed to given noise levels during the daily cycle (1990)

  District Nº & name             Day                 Night
                         >65 dBA <65 dBA >55 dBA <55 dBA
1: Ciutat Vella             8.9       91.1      77.6       22.4
2: Eixample                22.7       77.3      94.7        5.3
3: Sants-Monjuïc           16.6       83.4      72.6       27.4
4: Les Corts               19.7       80.3       75         25
5: Sarrià-Sant Gervasi      8.6       91.4      50.4       49.6
6: Gràcia                   7.2       92.8      66.9       33.1
7: Horta-Guinardó          12.3       87.7      63.5       36.5
8: Nou Barris               8.5       91.5      56.5       43.5
9: Sant Andreu             23.4       76.6       80         20
10: Sant Martí             15.9       84.1      80.5       19.5
Source: Noise map of Barcelona (U.O.G.A., 1990)

In fact, a large part of the population of Barcelona are likely to suffer from noise-related problems.
It is more difficult to estimate the effects on health as these usually effect the nervous system and
present as behavioral changes, such as difficulties in concentration or increased bad temper.

Although some people spend much of the day inside, a large proportion are directly exposed to the
ambient noise. This percentage increases during the summer months, both in urban areas, where the
need for a cooling breeze causes windows to be opened; and in peripheral residential areas, where a
great deal of the attraction comes from the possibility of enjoying the fresh air on the terrace or in
the garden. Because of this, sound-proofing of houses is not necessarily the correct way to ensure
that the health of the population is not prejudiced by noise pollution. Since addressing the problem
on the basis of noise reception will not work, it must instead be controlled by regulating sound
sources, urban design and the zoning of forms of use in each area.

Table 103
Problems caused by noise
Problem                           Leq inside dwelling               % people affected
                                  in dBA
Woken by noise                    <35                               none
                                  >40                               5%
                                  >70                               30%
Sleep disturbances                <35                               none
                                  >40                               10%
                                  >70                               60%
Difficulty getting to sleep       <35                               none
                                  40-45                             a small % take over an hour to
                                                                    get to sleep
Source: “Ecologia Urbana” (Urban Ecology) (Salvador Rueda)

Noise regulations
The legislation backing up noise control in the Barcelona Region is both very limited and poorly
drafted. Noise regulations should be an environmental policy tool and not an end in themselves. For
this reason, it is essential that an environmental noise policy is brought into force without too much
modification of the current situation.

EU Directives
EU Directives stipulate noise levels for construction equipment, generators, compressors, road
drills, lawnmowers, aeroplanes, motorcycles and motor vehicles. The noise measurement tests
performed as part of the approval process are complex and unsuitable for enforcing noise controls
in the street. However, the European Commission is currently looking into the question.

In order to ensure reasonable noise levels, official bodies must set maximum levels which meet the
standards of the EU directives for all construction machinery contracted to carry out public works
and, subsequently, check that these standards are complied with. This is a simple and
straightforward way of reducing the din produced by construction machinery (particularly road
drills and compressors) at road work sites and force contractors to comply with noise norms.

State legislation
There is, as yet, no specific Spanish standard limiting noise in industry and other sectors of the

The Basic Building Norm NBE-CA-88 regulates minimum sound insulation in buildings. This
insulation sets a maximum of 45 dBA for airborne noise and 80 dBA for impact noise. This level of
insulation is insufficient to ensure minimum comfort in dwellings. Furthermore, the norm does not
require on site verification so that most new dwellings do not come anywhere close to meeting
impact noise requirements. The Catalan Government needs to redraft its own regulations to
improve the extremely poor sound insulation of dwellings. The new norms should not only include
minimum sound insulation specifications but also introduce practical measures to:
Increase noise insulation between dwellings by between 5 and 10 dBA above the current
Provide basic information on noise insulation to professionals and builders via the General
   Directorate for Architecture and Housing (it is worth noting the impact of the
   publication of the French C.S.T.B. of regulations and guidelines on sound insulation,
   from 1972 onwards).
Start on site verification of noise insulation minimum standards employing random tests
   and samples on large blocks of flats or through individual certification.

General municipal ordinances
The Catalan Government‟s Department of the Environment approved a general municipal
ordinance covering noise and vibrations (DOGC 2116 of 10-11-95) in a resolution dated
30th October 1995. This ordinance included the phrase “it may be wholly adopted by
municipalities or not, depending on their needs”. So there is no obligation to comply with
its provisions.

Metropolitan Town Planning Regulations (1976)
The town planning regulations laying down maximum noise levels are contained in Article
289, Section 2 of the Act‟s provisions covering industrial use. The maximum permissible
level is background plus 3 dBA, which is confusing since the level of background noise
changes continually. The criteria employed by this legislation are confusing, outdated,
impracticable, and unenforceable. Unfortunately the regulations affect no fewer than 27
municipalities and 3 million people or 69.5% of the population in the Barcelona Region.

Control and correction measures
Official efforts to reduce air pollution focus on gas and particle emissions. The effort
devoted to noise reduction is a mere drop in the ocean in comparison. This is true of not
only Catalonia but also the majority of EU countries (according to the European
Commission‟s Green Book (1996)). The Green Book includes WHO criteria (see below),
proposing the recommendation of 55 dBA as the maximum external noise level.

The European Commission‟s Fifth Programme on Environmental Policy and Measures
established a series of general targets for night noise up to the year 2000, which included a
progressive reduction in average levels to below 65 dBA, an undertaking that noise levels
never be permitted to exceed 85 dBA, and that the section of the population exposed to
average levels in the 55 to 60 dBA noise band not be increased.

These criteria were drawn up based on health and environmental considerations but are
virtually impossible to enforce through national legislation in the EU member states since
(according to the OECD) 20% of the population is already exposed to noise levels over 65
dBA and 40% to between 55 and 65 dBA. These difficulties must gradually be overcome
and the European Commission has committed itself to establishing a common programme
with member states. This programme plans to establish common indices and limits for
different types of noise, to make the public aware of the problem, and to publish
information on noise levels.
In the case of the Barcelona Metropolitan Region, some municipalities have produced
their own noise maps but have either not made them public or released partial information.
The Barcelona Noise Map, published in 1990 (and currently being updated) revealed wide
variations between districts, strongly linked to the predominant activities in each one
(industry in Districts 3 and 10, services in Districts 2,4, and 5, night time entertainment in
Districts 2 and 5).

Table 104
Maximum noise levels recommended by the World Health Organisation (Laeq)

                                       Day                                      Night
                           Inside              Outside               Inside              Outside
Dwellings                 50 dBA               55 dBA
Bedrooms                                                          30 dBA*                45 dBA
                                                                 Max: 45 dBA
Schools                   35 dBA               55 dBA
       General                                 35 dBA                                35 dBA
                                                                                  Max. 45 dBA
       Wards                                 30 dBA                                  30 dBA
                                                                                  Max. 40 dBA
Concert halls               100 dBA for 4 hours                      100 dBA for 4 hours
Discotheques                 90 dBA for 4 hours                      90 dBA for 4 hours
*Lower noise levels may also represent a nuisance depending on their source and location
These proposals and recommendations were drawn up in the autumn of 1997.
They have been amended to include some variations in environmental management
introduced after that date, as well as to mention new criteria drawn up since then.
Regional and environmental measures
10.1 On air pollution
Air pollution is largely the result of burning fossil fuels. The more conventional
energy demanded, the more fossil fuels used, the more air pollution produced. The
relationship is not quite that simple or lineal, of course, factors such as combustion
efficiency, filters, engine maintenance, air circulation, temperature inversions, etc.,
must also be considered, but in general air quality and energy demand show an
inverse relationship. This is why the following measures are of paramount

       001  to slow the increase in energy demand by increasing energy
             efficiency and introducing energy saving. This policy does not involve
             either sacrifices or a reduction in productive capacity.

       002  to obtain an increasing proportion of energy from renewable (i.e.
             non-fossil) sources (solar cells, solar panels, hydro-electric generators)
             or from the combustion of relatively clean fuels (natural gas, biogas).

These options are wholly consistent with a sustainable strategy, giving them a double
relevance and providing a good reason to emphatically recommend their adoption.

On reduction of the volume of traffic made up of vehicles
using internal combustion engines
Private traffic is the main producer of pollution in the Barcelona Region. The number of
private vehicles on the road grows every year. Although older vehicles are being
replaced by newer, less polluting ones, the increase in the number of cars on the road
has more than offset cleaner combustion. The building of ring roads has stimulated the
use of private vehicles. The paradox of a well-intentioned and well received road
scheme causing unexpected (though not unforeseeable) problems should prompt deep
reflection on the modelling of complex phenomena. Reducing traffic fumes means
cutting the number of cars on the road. This requires improving public transport and
adopting cleaner fuels. In fact, reducing air pollution depends on a combination of
measures to modify mobility and transport patterns drastically. As well as changing the
movement patterns directly, the following measures are needed:

       003  to conduct public awareness and educational campaigns on the
             correlation between respiratory diseases and ailments and the
             volume of traffic with a view to changing public attitudes to the use of
             private vehicles;

       004  to accept and implement the principle that persuasive measures are
             not enough to change private vehicle use unless accompanied by
               economic penalties and tough regulations, particularly during severe
               pollution episodes;

       005  to replace the diesel fuel used for buses, rubbish lorries and taxis
             with methane from biogas generated at a special plant at the Garraf
             rubbish tip. Enough methane would be produced to supply the entire
             Metropolitan bus fleet (an annual saving of 20 million litres of diesel).

On reduction of atmospheric emissions
Industries and heating systems also cause air pollution. Measures taken to control these
point sources must cover both angles: firstly, consumption and type of fuels employed,
secondly, industrial processes causing emissions. Reduction of air pollution caused by
the combustion of liquid and solid fuels has been a success in areas where these have
been replaced by less polluting gas fuels. The Barcelona municipality replaced around
400 million therms of liquid and solid fuels with gas between 1986 and 1989. This
dramatically reduced the episodes of severe pollution produced during wintertime
thermal inversions. Energy saving measures have also proven obviously effective.
Although these measures may be taken at any time, it is best to include them when
projects are planned. In particular it is important:

       006  to continue to replace liquid and solid fuels with gas at permanent
             pollution sources in the Barcelona Region (particularly thermal power
             stations and non-electric heating systems), plus to promote clean
             industrial processes through standards and incentives to introduce
             non-polluting production processes in the industries of the are;

       007           to demand emission reduction measures and non-polluting
               production processes in all new industrial plants so that whatever the
               business sector, emission levels are kept close to zero.

Solid particles and gaseous emissions from non-combustion industrial processes are also
a serious source of air pollution. The chemical and pharmaceutical industries are
particular culprits here. Health problems are also caused by the emission of minute food
particles (flour, soya flour, etc.) during large scale processing and bulk handling. In all
these cases, applying the appropriate technology (which is almost always available)will
minimise the problem. Therefore steps are required:

       008  to guarantee the maximum reduction of particle emissions by the use
             of electric filters or similar techniques in cement factories, steel mills,
             sand and gravel processing plants, silos, grain silos and warehouses and
             other sites handling foodstuffs prone to release particles.

       009  to regulate and strictly control emissions from the chemical industry
             in the Besòs and Llobregat river basins.

       010  to take effective steps to suppress the illegal burning of industrial
             materials (tyres, for example) which is currently done almost anywhere
             in the area.
10.2 On river basins and river flow patterns
River basins are ecological systems with specific functional requirements that must be
reconciled with the needs of the population who live in the area or who use its
resources. Increasing water supply to cope with local scarcity is not a sustainable policy.
Instead, a policy to control demand, as far as this is possible, must be followed. Efficient
use and recycling of water should be introduced and public awareness campaigns
conducted to this end. Supplying ever more water has been the standard response to this
problem for many years and has meant that the real problems of water pollution or
scarcity have not been solved. Ecology-based management of the demand opens up the
possibility of sustainable development with which nobody can quarrel.

On integrated management of river basins using criteria of
sustainable development
The Sewage Treatment Plan provides the necessary base to maintain, to a certain degree.
the water quality of Catalan rivers, while the other measures laid down by the Catalan
Government, such as the Hydrology Plan, are based on the outmoded model of
providing for the demand. Although the two plans were drawn up by the same
government, they represent two totally opposed visions of water management and
require a clarification of criteria. Generally speaking, most of the planning and
management tools could do with clarification. The Sewage Treatment Plan is ambitious
in scope but timid in measures, the ideas for sewage treatment start with urban waste
water and include everything form industrial waste to diffuse pollution caused by
agriculture and livestock but unfortunately, the plan cannot control water demand. What
is needed is:

       011  to unify or at the very least liaise with other public bodies responsible
             for water management and conservation of hydrological systems, as
             the responsibility for this is currently divided between various
             Departments with mutually opposed philosophies and policies and to
             clarify the municipal, regional and central government
             responsibilities for river management.

       012  to produce a planning document which co-ordinates aspects covering
             the conservation of ecological systems and water management for
             man‟s use;

       013  to accept the principle that river basin management begins with
             respecting river systems, specifically including river flora and fauna, as
             well as flow patterns, drawing off water, chemical composition, etc., so
             that water is seen as a living system rather than an inert mineral resource
             and its management is based on preservation rather than exploitation.
On measures relating to flash floods
Flash floods and general flooding are chronic problems in the area, particularly in
Maresme county and along the river Llobregat, although typical of Mediterranean river
flow patterns, town planning and channelling of the upper river makes the problem
worse, increasing storm surges downstream. This makes it necessary:

       014  to maintain and increase vegetation cover on river banks and
             surrounding areas, especially trees, to broaden the flood and attenuate
             surges. This natural system is both effective and maintenance free;

       015  to strictly apply the Water Law and other regulations regulating the
             use of river basins and water courses (ensuring that river beds are
             treated with respect, whether used as public property, as rights of way or
             for legal access, that their minimum width is not encroached on and any
             dual uses are properly licensed, that volume and content of discharges
             into rivers and irrigation or drainage ditches is controlled, etc.

       016  to set up standards regulating the new demands produced by
             increasingly complex uses (limitation or prohibition of building in flood
             prone areas, control of erosion and sedimentation, etc.);

On the design and size of infrastructures in keeping with
Mediterranean river flow patterns and prevention of
impermeabilisation of river basins
Good management of river basins should not be based on civil engineering works
although they are often needed in a region as heavily populated and affected by man as
the Barcelona Region. The design of bridge pillars, walls, conduits and other structures
must take the erosive forces at work in rivers into account and allow water, large rocks,
sediments and flotsam such as treetrunks and other timber to be carried unhindered
downstream during storm surges. The siting of utility services must take the possibility
of flooding and water damage into account as the failure of basic services such as
electricity, gas and water causes chaos and public alarm and in many cases could be
remedied by low cost precautionary measures (many transformers, for example, are
damaged by water entering the ground level ventilation grids, while the pumps at some
supply wells in flood prone areas lack protection). Finally, one should note that the
increase in runoff (the river basins are increasingly impermeable) is a direct result of
urban development, asphalting of roads and the building of greenhouses (Maresme
county), forcing water straight into storm drains and increasing the size of storm surges
(by up to a factor of 7!). What is needed is:

       017  to plan and size infrastructures in accordance with Mediterranean
             flow regimes so that they can deal with storm surges. It is also essential
             to maintain the permeability of river basins given that excessive runoff
             often plays a key role in increasing the size of storm surges;

       018  to install storm tanks and channels upstream of towns and villages to
       modulate floods and ensure that excess flow is diverted to water courses
       which do not flow through urban areas;

019  to facilitate the water discharge in the final course of rivers and
      torrents (in the case of the river Llobregat, the stretch between El Prat
      and the sea, or the tributaries of the Llobregat in its lower reaches) and
      thus compensate for the effects of urbanisation and river channelling;

020  to clear water courses of installations which may be undermined
      during storm surges (sewers, for example) or bury them below the
      erosion zone;

021  to keep roads and rivers separate and build road and foot bridges
      which are constructed so as to be safe during cloudbursts and flooding,
      thus offering alternative routes which complement those that may be
      washed out in an emergency and ensuring no part of the territory is cut

022  to draw up an emergency plan and alarm system covering storm
      surges to ensure rapid and effective response during emergencies. An
      insurance system covering goods and loss of life during floods should
      also be encouraged.
On surface water courses, aquifers and water resources
Rivers and aquifers provide man with water but they are not just water sources for
human use. Good integrated environmental management of the complete hydrological
system is an essential part of regional policy and the best possible guarantee of a supply
of good quality water. In fact, bad management is responsible for many of the water
problems in the region. The taste and smell of most tap water in the Barcelona Region is
very low. This explains why bottled mineral water is so popular even though it is
between 250 and 800 times more expensive than tap water (25-40 ptas/litre compared
with 0.05-0.1 ptas/litre) and comes from the same natural sources as the public supply.
The difference is that the public supply has gone through an absurd process of
contamination followed by expensive treatment to make it drinkable. This is disturbing
because the duplication of water transport is expensive and brings into circulation
millions of plastic bottles, produces massive volumes of waste and uses up large
quantities of energy. In any case, the biological water quality of Mediterranean rivers is
strongly linked to flow patterns capable of maintaining plant and animal communities.
Sometimes very low flow rates of the order of 2-3 litres/s are sufficient to maintain
diverse biological communities. Many streams could maintain their fauna if only they
were not managed in the same manner as those water courses which do have problems.

On rivers as ecological systems
The rivers which spring in the Montseny massif are not subject to intense use, which
help explain their clean waters - particularly in wet years. In the middle and lower
reaches of the Mediterranean rivers in the Region (Besòs, Anoia, Rubí, Foix) where
flow depends on the discharge from wastewater plants, river sections dry up if plants are
sited far from the towns they serve. In such a case, the river effectively runs through the
sewer pipe connecting the town and the treatment plant. The policy of building
treatment plants tens of kilometres away from sewage collection points is a disaster
from the point of view of maintaining even minimum river flow patterns. The river
Besòs is biologically dead (although its recovery is being planned), while the Llobregat,
because of the discharges received in the stretch down to Sant Joan Despí, shows an
average to low quality with strong eutrophication. From Sant Boi onwards the river is
little more than an open sewer because of discharges from below the drinking water
treatment plant (in many cases these discharges are piped from further upstream - saline
water from the potassium salt basin, a sewer from the Sant Feliu waste treatment plant,
the Solvay (chemical company) sewer and the Infanta canal which runs off the Anoia
river at Martorell). These discharges are highly saline and contain a considerable amount
of ammonia and other pollutants. Although the Sewage Treatment Plan does not
consider this part of the river as a sensitive area, it would seem reasonable to make an
effort to restore life to the water course in the final stretch before the river mouth. Given
these circumstances (and a few others besides) it is necessary:

       023  to determine the ecological flow patterns for all rivers in the region
             so as to establish the sustainable ecological flow required to maintain the
             life of the river. This should be taken into account both when drawing
             water off and when returning it to the rivers;

       024  to establish small treatment plants and sewage ponds at towns in the
              upper reaches of rivers to ensure the biological viability of the water in
              the upper stretches;

       025  to regulate and revise the concessions for existing mini-hydroelectric
             schemes since these draw off significant quantities of water, often at
             critical points for the river feeding them;

       026  to carry out the restoration plan for the river Besòs with a view to
             attaining minimum standards of water purity and ensuring proper
             integration with the surrounding built up area;

       027  to establish a special plan for the final section of the river Llobregat
             below Sant Joan Despí and ensure the river attains minimum standards of
             water purity (by extending the saline water sewer and the Solvay
             (chemical company) sewer (and possibly others) as far as the sea; by
             putting a stop to industrial discharges in this stretch or ensuring they are
             properly treated; and by reducing the phosphorus and nitrogen content in
             the water to reduce eutrophication).

On integrated management of surface and underground
water sources
Water resources are unique and form an interrelated system, partly to be found on the
surface (rivers) and partly underground (aquifers). Management of the resources of this
system must be planned as an integrated policy, taking into account the demands made
and the real limits of the system. An advanced, mature society must not function just as
water users, but as cultivators of the resource. Correct modes of use surface and
underground water sources are essential if demand is to be met without forgetting that
water is an essential part of the natural environment. The current over-exploitation of
most of the area‟s aquifers, often worsened by severe pollution, must be corrected
without delay. What is needed is:

       028  to stop over-exploitation of aquifers and produce a rational plan for
             their use. This requires that a maximum exploitation curve be established
             for each case, consistent with criteria for the aquifer‟s sustainable use,
             proper functioning and protection of its catchment area;

       029  to prevent pollution discharges into aquifer recharging areas,
             particularly where the soil or rock is hydrologically active;

       030  to regulate mineral water bottling according to integrated water
             management criteria where the water is of exceptional quality (for
             example, the mineral water sources from the Montseny zone);

       031  to rationalise the use of water from the Besòs aquifer both because it
             could supply considerable quantities of water after being ignored for so
             long and because this would solve the problems caused by lack of use.
On improvement of the flavour and odour of tap water
The principal source of water supply for the Barcelona region is the river Ter. It is
essential that serious efforts are made to reduce the water demand and the pollution of
this river. The strong diffuse contamination of its aquifers comes partly from livestock
farmers and is noticeable downstream from the farmland, particularly in the Sau-
Susqueda reservoirs. Industrial pollution from Vic, Roda de Ter and other parts of Osona
county is also a problem. The middle and lower reaches of the river Llobregat are in a
similar situation, with high pollutant concentrations at the Baells reservoir. It is therefore

       032  to carefully regulate demand for water and control pollution above
             the Sau and Susqueda reservoirs on the river Ter in order to improve
             the tap water currently drunk by half the population of Catalunya;

       033  to control discharges into the river Llobregat upstream of draw-off
             points for drinking water plants and for the same reasons as above.

In the Barcelona Region, river pollution caused by organic solvents is falling, but is still
extremely worrying. These solvents are used in industrial processes and include
chloroform (CHCl3), trichloroethylene (TCE), tetrachloroethylene (PCE) and
trichlorobenzine - all non-degradable toxic products. To this list one should add various
pesticides. The use of these compounds will be strictly controlled by forthcoming
European Directives. It is therefore incumbent on authorities:

       034  to strictly regulate industrial processes using chloroform, tri- and
             tetrachloroethylene and trichlorobenzene and actively promote their
             replacion by non toxic products;

       035  to establish a programme for controlling the use of pesticides, with
             special reference to their effects on and discharge into the water system.

On management of demand, consumption and use of
recycled water
Water consumption in the Barcelona area has fallen by 16% over the last 8 years, partly
because the resident population has fallen and partly because of industrial water savings.
The Besòs aquifer could supply 30
hm3/year a year for secondary uses from water which is currently unused. This
represents a significant fraction of the 142 hm3/year used by the city. If the consumption
and conservation of water could be properly planned in the new socio-economic context,
along with use of recycled water, the demand for water would be reduced even further
and this can actually be done. The economy, regional development and the public would
all benefit from such a change; the only ones who might think they were losing out are
those opposed to progress (even those camouflaged as progressive). Even builders will
gain since the new model will need public works (for example; a re-cycled water
network, rainwater collection and exploitation systems and modernisation of the
distribution network, designed to allow sustainable development rather than
uncontrolled growth). However, this must be firmly based on changes in attitudes;
rational and sustainable use; water saving and management of the demand. In any case,
managing resources by piping in water from other areas is ecologically indefensible
since it means that one basin loses water and another gains or disposes of it. This is
especially true of the proposal to pipe water in from the Rhône which, quite apart from
being bad strategy, would mean that the Barcelona Region depended on a far-off and
politically uncontrollable source of water. There is no reason to think existing resources
will prove inadequate until well past 2015, even in the worst cases of water
consumption and with use of recycled water taken as a modest 15% (i.e. without taking
self-sufficiency measures). What is needed, therefore, is:

       036  to reduce the vast amounts of water leaking from the supply and
             distribution network. Although stopping leaks is expensive, the current
             loss is 25-28% of water passing through the system;

       037  to reduce losses produced through irrigating crops, by using water
             saving systems to replace current flooding techniques (at least in areas
             where water is a scarce resource);

       038  to save and recycle water from industry, either for re-use or for clean
             and efficient production processes;

       039  to rationalise domestic consumption through water saving measures
             (economical washing machines, dishwashers, showers, WCs) and making
             use of rainwater;

       040  to establish programmes for using recycled water without forgetting
             the need for ecological flow patterns in rivers. The objective would be to
             re-use 100-150 litres per head a day.
10.4 On the seaside and coast
The seaside in the Barcelona Region is highly degraded from viewpoints of ecology,
landscape and leisure use. Destruction of beaches plagued with hordes of people is the
result of relentless building aimed at satisfying insatiable demand instead of controlling
supply. Ribbon development along the coast has displaced virtually all the original coast
ecosystems and now yacht marinas and breakwaters are pushing seawards. Despite
strenuous efforts (such as the new bathing areas created by the Barcelona municipality)
the beaches continue to recede in most of the area. The enormous amounts of money
invested in restoring beaches has produced little positive effect above the water line and
has seriously disturbed the sea bottom. Some beaches (at the mouth of the river
Llobregat) are frankly pretty grim and covered with pollutants and filthy sand. The
population has been warned for years not to use them.

On safeguarding the little remaining unspoilt coastline
Considering how thoroughly the coastline has been occupied by permanent structures, it
would be a pipe dream to imagine restoring the coastal landscape to what it once was,
even if it were possible. However, it is still possible to save the remnants of that
landscape which are all the more valuable because of their rarity. Right now only 14%
of the coastline is zoned as unsuited for urban use. Most of this more or less protected
coastline is within the Metropolitan Area whereas between Sitges and Canet there is not
a single yard. What we need is;

       041  to ensure planning regulations afford official protection from
             building on the remaining coastline of ecological and landscape
             value, whether they are natural areas or farmland;

       042  to ensure that, wherever possible, future buildings are low density,
             reasonably low and with abundant green spaces allowing free access to
             beach areas;

       043  to ensure municipal planning regulations fully comply with the
             Coastal Development Law with regard to the ban on building within
             100 m of the waterline.

On the struggle against coastal regression
Most of the beaches in the area are unstable and in steady regression. In Maresme
county the regression is mainly due to changes in the coastal circulation of sediments
caused by the building of ports and marinas over the last few years. The problem has
been worsened by the building of spits, paradoxically built to protect beaches. In Garraf
county the regression is the result of changes in the sediment transport regime of the
river Llobregat. Priority measures must be:

       044  to establish a moratorium on the building of yet more yacht marinas
             until precise studies are produced on a case by case basis and within the
             framework of overall coastal dynamics. These studies would have to
               establish the likely effects of such projects (and of course scrap schemes
               where findings are unfavourable);

       045  to stop the building of new spits and remove those which have proved

       046  to stimulate the development of alternative solutions which have
             been proven in the field or offer good prospects of being more
             effective, such as beach drainage and submerged spits;

       047  to suspend beach renovation operations using dredging techniques
             and sand from the sea bed. This approach is not only ineffective (the
             “renovated” beaches disappear within a few months) but also costly, and
             has ecologically damaging effects on both the sea bed and the beach itself
             (often produces sticky, smelly beaches).

On regulating access to overcrowded beaches
Most of the metropolitan beaches are overcrowded and their services overwhelmed. The
twenty kilometres of beach in the area are the most sought-after leisure facilities during
the summer months. There are few beaches which are even remotely natural: most are
town beaches (with service facilities but overcrowded) or metropolitan beaches
(particularly visited at weekends and also overcrowded). The beaches in Barceloneta
(Barcelona city) are packed to the point where the space per person ranges between 0.6
m2 and 3.8 m2 (overcrowding is defined at less than 4m2 per person). There is not much
more space at the Castelldefels beaches which are over-generously provided with
services and infrastructures.

It is impossible to guarantee minimum sand quality under these conditions or to prevent
private cars jamming the roads and parking wherever they can near beaches. What is
needed is:

       048  to carry out an accurate study of beach capacities in the area and
             plan services and parking spaces in accordance with that capacity.
             Access restrictions could then be introduced exactly as for any other
             premises or area with limited capacity;

       049  to improve public transport to beaches whether from town centres or
             the car parks mentioned above and guarantee convenient access to

       050  to make the area next to the beach more accessible and thus make it
             easier to reach beaches. This can be a serious problem, especially in the
             Maresme, where there is a main road and a railway line to cross before
             reaching the beach. It would be wonderful if the road and railway could
             be moved a couple of hundred yards inland, leaving a decent seaside
             strip, but this appears to be unrealistic.

On protecting natural ecosystems still surviving along the
Among the coastal systems of greatest ecological value and fragility are the delta and
underwater plant and animal communities in the middle and lower coastal zones. Both
are threatened by urban or infrastructure building projects. Unfortunately most of the
beaches in the area have simply become barren expanses of sand without any of their
original landscape features (vegetation, dune areas, etc.). Measures are underway at both
Gavà and Castelldefels to conserve and restore the remaining dunes. Meanwhile,
planting schemes have begun on urban beaches and enjoy a greater or lesser degree of
success. We therefore consider it necessary:

       051  to clarify the precise scope of the Llobregat Delta Infrastructure Plan
             once and for all and in sufficient detail to be able to establish the extent
             to which natural ecosystems in the area will be affected;

       052  to stop those measures in the Llobregat Delta plan which are severely
             detrimental to the environment and natural heritage (where legal
             protection may well apply). The plans finally adopted should also seek to
             reduce environmental impact and correct dysfunctional elements;

       053  to mobilise the technical and financial resources necessary to carry
             out planned corrective action and to ensure these are built into project

       054  to promote restoration of beaches to their natural state, through re-
             establishment of the vegetation and geomorphology which has been lost;

       055  to comply with and enforce compliance with fishing regulations
             regarding fish sizes; fishing techniques and nets; fishing seasons; and
             spawning periods;

       056  to rigorously enforce the current regulations protecting algae and
             seaweed (particularly sea meadows of Posidonia). Any activity which
             involves anchoring, dredging or dragging the sea bed, or stirring up
             sediments should be considered incompatible with the legal protection
             afforded these underwater meadows.
10.5 On coastal waters
The pollution of coastal waters in the Barcelona Region is severe enough that it does not
just contaminate bathing water but also prejudices marine ecosystems. At some points
along the coast the concentration of pollutants in the food chain poses a real health
threat to those eating locally caught fish. The presence of highly toxic pollutants in
waste sediments in the Barcelona Region requires the strictest vigilance given current
ignorance of the dynamics of many of these compounds.

On improving the quality of coastal waters and sand
The coastal zones in the Region are heavily polluted, both biologically and chemically.
If beaches are to be properly used by the population it is absolutely essential to improve
the micro-biological and chemical quality of these waters and to improve the quality and
appearance of beach sand. Spain‟s membership of the European Union has meant some
improvement but the gap between local practice and European standards is still far too
wide. Along much of the region‟s coastline it is a bad idea to go swimming after midday
because this is when sea currents sweep pollutants inshore. The control of the wide
range of pollutants (often from multiple sources and hence not easy to locate), falls to
different administrative bodies. Any measures taken to reduce the emission of air
pollutants, discharges into rivers and dumping will have positive results for coastal
water quality. We therefore consider it necessary:

       057  to speed up the building and start up of urban wastewater treatment
             plants in Maresme county;

       058  to prevent sewage overflows from the Sant Adrià de Besòs plant
             which occur after heavy rains;

       059  to find alternative solutions to the current dumping of sewage sludge
             at sea;

       060  to bring the thermal power station at Sant Adrià de Besòs into line
             with EU environmental norms and thus end sea pollution from
             deposition of airborne pollutants from this source.

On monitoring and control of coastal water quality
Any initiative aimed at improving the water quality along the Barcelona coast must be
based on sound research in order to avoid raising false hopes or making rash
judgements. For example, it is highly unlikely that halting sewage sludge dumping from
the Sant Adrià plant would make much of an impact on water pollution along the Poble
Nou shoreline since this comes from other sources. Of the various point sources of
pollution in the area, the only ones which have a big effect are the river Besòs and the
submarine sludge outfall from the Sant Adrià wastewater plant. The results of sample
analysis reveals that the quantity of organic pollutants from the Sant Adrià source is two
orders of magnitude greater than from the Besòs (which only discharges into the sea 8
months a year). It is also known that dibenzodioxin and dibenzofuran emissions from
incinerators in the area also pollute the sea. Detailed information on the chemical
pollution of the coastal strip is available only for the city of Barcelona between the river
Besòs and the port. Current data are available for organic pollutants in the surface
micro-layer and in the sub-surface water layer, the information forming part of a project
in progress financed by Barcelona Regional-CDTI. In contrast, the state of information
on pollution by trace elements and organic compounds is very out of date. What is
needed is:

       061  to continue current pollution studies and begin new ones on the
             contaminants in the Region and their sources, especially those most
             difficult to monitor or most toxic.
10.6 On plants, fauna and the environmental landscape
The Barcelona Region still retains a considerable natural heritage despite human
pressure on the environment and poor regional management. Various areas are covered
by the Plan for Areas of Natural Interest (PEIN) ensuring the survival of the most
irreplaceable species. However, the environmental quality of a few privileged parks does
nothing to disguise the ruinous state of the rest of the area. Something must be done,
even if only because most of the population live in the worst affected areas. The public
bodies responsible for managing the natural heritage of the Region have no coordinated
policy. In general, what is required is:

       062  to put the planning and managing of all nature areas into the hands
             of one specific department of the Generalitat while retaining role of
             the Metropolitan Association of Municipalities in providing support to
             town councils and public consortiums;

       063  to promote new laws for different geographical areas and with different
             scope to create and manage the special protection areas;

       064  to modify the Sponsorship Law in order to stimulate the associations
             and foundations involved in conserving the natural heritage into action.

On prevention of occupation of the remaining open areas
One of the main threats to conserving ecosystems in the area is the constant increase in
the built up area (both high and low density), which has a negative impact on farming
and nature areas (see 4.9). Although 66% of the land in the area is classified as
unsuitable for urban development, but this classification only provides full protection
against building for the foreseeable future in 20% of the areas covered by the PEIN
(Plan for Areas of Natural Interest) and on forested slopes with gradients over 20%.
Therefore we need:

       065  to stop zoning more land for building purposes and reduce new road
             schemes to a minimum since the remaining areas are being split up to
             the point where their continued viability as ecosystems is directly

       066  to prevent building on steep slopes (including low density housing
             estates providing second homes), for ecological, landscape and energy
             conservation reasons.
On restricting access to fragile nature areas
A direct result of the high population density in the area is the excessive number of
visits to nature areas, whether for passive (undamaging) forms of recreation such as
walking, picnics (not necessarily undamaging) or for active forms (hunting and
gathering, open air sports, etc.) This overcrowding increases the risk of environmental
degradation. What is needed is:

       067  to limit access to the most fragile nature areas at the very least at
             particular times or under particular circumstances;

       068  to create alternative, less fragile areas better able to tolerate hordes
             of visitors, making a place for open air activities for those less interested
             in or careless of nature.

On preventing forest fires
It is essential to maintain fire services, carry out continual public awareness campaigns,
limit access to woodland at certain times of the year and increase vigilance and
penalties. What is required is:

       069  to plant trees along motorway verges and taluses to keep down bushes
             and tall grass;

       070  to promote proper grazing with goats and sheep to crop inflammable
             vegetation near housing estates, towns and infrastructures, and to re-
             introduce wild herbivores where possible;

       071  to maintain clearings which can act as firebreaks and ensure they are
             regularly cleared to ensure fire prone grasses and bushes do not build up;

       072  to use selective burning in winter (weather conditions permitting) to
             ensure that combustible undergrowth is kept in hand. Selective burning
             would be conducted under the close supervision of forestry experts and
             the fire brigade;

       073  to provide enough fire-fighting ponds or tanks, designed to avoid
             problems with fauna.

Other measures required concern siting of electricity lines and maintenance of
firebreaks. What is needed is:

       074  to scrap the traditional model of firebreaks completely bare of trees
             since these are difficult to maintain and interfere with natural forest

       075  to promote firebreaks based on woodland bands which can be grazed
             by herbivores while providing shade;
       076  to promote river bank woodland along all water courses as this acts as
             a natural firebreak;

       077  to improve the high, medium and low voltage network, rationalise tree
             pruning, carefully select routes, use insulated cables and, where
             appropriate, bury lines.

The woodlands of the region require improvement by pruning and clearing, the biomass
from this could provide a modest source of energy (although the exploitation would
need to be strictly controlled so that the secondary objective of gathering fuel does not
override forest care). Fire prevention is closely linked to good forest management. The
forests are in a state of neglect at this time of crisis, and there is a lack of financial
incentives to put things right in this sector. We need:

       078  to stimulate markets for high quality Mediterranean wood (ilex, oak,
             ash) and reinforce the idea of multiple use of woodland;

       079  to promote the activities of the Forest Owners Centre as a consultation
             body for forestry managers.

On protection of fauna by preventing the destruction and
isolation of their habitats
In order to improve the outlook for fauna in the Barcelona Region it is essential to
ensure the survival and conservation of their habitats, most of which are limited to small
areas. Since it is vitally important to make sure these habitats are not further divided up,
threatening their continued viability. What is required is:

       080  to create a network of biological corridors and prevent the
             destruction of those which already exist. This means ensuring that road
             and rail systems do not break up the connections between areas in a more
             or less natural state;

       081  to restore important links which have currently been cut or are
             under serious threat, in particular between Collserola-Ordal; Conreria-
             Sant Mateu-Céllecs; Serralada Litoral-Serralada Prelitoral and to
             reinforce the network of nature reserves, the management of which
             must be integrated between town councils, owners and NGOs;

       082  to restore areas damaged by illegal housing estates which cut across
             biological corridors.

On reinforcement of the remnants of forested areas on the
Barcelona plain
The plains in the area are neglected elements of the landscape, either because of their
mainly urban and industrial land use or because they are given over to increasingly
marginal farming. Even so, there are still small and medium-sized areas which are more
or less forested and which could be used to improve the landscape, for leisure activities,
as a sight screen and even for forestry. What is needed is:

       083  to plant or consolidate mixed woods (ilex, oak, chestnut, ash, conifers,
             etc.) along roads in strips of 100 m wide or more;

       084  to restore semi-humid Mediterranean lowland woods on commons
             and wastelands.

On conservation of marshes, bogs and river banks and
creation of new wetland areas
The wetlands and river banks are probably the worst-treated features in the area.
Currently there are only small wetland areas in Tordera municipality, the Llobregat delta
and a few secondary ponds and abandoned gravel pits which have filled up with water in
Vallès county. The wetlands in the Llobregat delta are the most important in the area and
their survival depends mainly on the quality of the water feeding them. In the short term,
though, attention should be focused on the large schemes affecting the area such as the
extension of Barcelona airport (building of a third runway); extension of the port (ZAL);
and the alteration to the course of the final stretch of the river, etc. It is very worrying
that coordination between the various authorities in the area is so poor. The lack of
sufficient, reliable information on building schemes and on measures to correct any
negative impact give rise to all sorts of speculation as to likely changes in the
environment. In some cases ponds might be formed which, regardless of their size,
would last the whole year round and enable aquatic communities to develop. These
ponds could also act as a temporary deposit for rainwater and as filters and purifying
areas for materials brought down by runoff. In some areas the building of artificial
wetlands could provide tertiary processing of effluent from wastewater plants. These
wetlands might prove attractive and would be easy to incorporate into green areas
around the city. What is needed is:

       085  to prevent the loss of the few remaining wetland areas, particularly the
             coastal lagoons in the Llobregat and Tordera deltas. Should some
             wetlands be lost because of new infrastructures in the Llobregat delta,
             this should be offset by creating new wetlands;

       086  to create new floodable riverbank woods taking advantage of
             abandoned gravel pits and hollows;

       087  to promote tertiary treatment of water from wastewater treatment
             plants through man-made wetlands and flashes, thus ensuring an
             ecological minimum flow pattern;

       088  to restore the natural character of river banks, which means replacing
             concrete banking with river vegetation wherever possible;

       089  to avoid public works alongside rivers and building in areas prone to
090  to promote the role of rivers and river banks with full vegetation
      cover as biological corridors on the lines mentioned earlier;

091  to draw up new riverine regulations more appropriate to the
      characteristics of the region and apply the Plan for Areas of Natural
      Interest (PEIN) to these river areas.
10.7 On urban green spaces and roadside verges
Urban green spaces are not just ornamental but their functional side has already been
discussed (see section 2.5.1). The problems arising from inadequate management have
already been indicated. They are often the result of mistakenly applying models which
are inappropriate to a Mediterranean setting or arise from an attempt to make urban
green spaces perform functions for which they are unsuited.

On urban and roadside green spaces: the role of town
planning and building design
Apart from landscape gardening, urban green spaces are often dealt with as an
afterthought and without reference to building design and function. Treatment of
surfaces is all too often considered as merely an industrial activity - an attitude which is
reflected in materials designed for their weather resistant finishes (special paints, plastic
corrugated sheeting, epoxy resins, fixed screens, etc.) rather than for their environmental
friendliness. The fact that the work is subcontracted at the last moment to individual
workmen or suppliers means that no account is taken of the impact of surface treatment
on architectural design, biological needs, etc. This irresponsible attitude is compounded
by the fact that these works receive a low proportion of the investment and forecast
maintenance expenses. What is needed is:

       092  to integrate the functional features of urban green spaces (noise
             barriers, shade, temperature control, wind breaks, surface protection,
             retaining particles in suspension, absorbing air pollutants, habitat for
             fauna, etc.) into town planning and building design criteria in city
             centres, isolated buildings and along roadsides and infrastructures.

       093  to identify and respect the ecological needs of urban green spaces
             (amount of land, lighting, water availability, orientation and exposure,
             resistance to aerosols and pesticides, etc.) in town planning and
             building projects. This would ensure plants grow under the right
             conditions, reduce maintenance needs and avoid costly mistakes;

       094  to ensure projects and budgets adequately reflect the ecological
             requirements and functional integration of urban green spaces. This
             would ensure that green spaces are not treated as a secondary
             consideration but form an important part of the whole project.

On using urban green spaces to improve the micro-climate

In all tropical or subtropical urban systems including those of the mediterranean and,
more specifically, the Metropolitan Region of Barcelona, solar radiation is extremely
intense, especially in summer. For this reason both pedestrians and buildings need
shade. It is clearly illogical (and environmentally unsound) to depend on air-
conditioning alone to provide a comfortable temperature. It is difficult for air
conditioning to provide cooling of more than 10º C whereas shaded areas in latitudes of
less than 45º are provide 5-7ºC of cooling. Air conditioning could be cut by half if
suitable thermal insulation is used in buildings and air inlets are located in well
ventilated and shaded areas. What is needed is:

       095  to systematically employ urban green spaces as a form of passive air
             conditioning especially by planting trees along roadsides. This would
             produce pleasant micro-climates and protect building materials from
             excessive solar radiation and temperature extremes during the Summer;

       096  to restore the age old Mediterranean use of arbours in pedestrian

On managing urban green spaces in a Mediterranean
The number of urban green spaces is expected to grow throughout the area over the next
few years. However, it is important that dry gardening and Mediterranean gardening
techniques are reintroduced. It is a question of working with nature rather than against
it. Thus the physical, geographical and biological context should be properly respected
instead of lifting ideas from Central Europe and North America which are out of place in
a Mediterranean climate. Although one should be careful of generalising, most spaces,
particularly those along streets and roadsides, should be as natural as possible and
involve the minimum amount of maintenance. Agricultural techniques are not always
the most opportune when it comes to urban spaces (spraying, application of agro-
chemicals, etc.), in part because urban vegetation often survives under precarious
conditions. We consider it necessary:

       097  to respect Mediterranean gardening practices in designing urban
             green spaces (predominance of evergreens, aromatic plants, closed-
             circuit streams, gravel or earthen areas rather than hard paving, etc.);

       098  to choose dry and Mediterranean gardening criteria for urban green
             spaces along roadsides and in all those areas where limited maintenance
             is possible. Particular prudence should be exercised before resorting to
             lawns (with a preference for water thrifty grass species, or covering with
             ivy, creepers, etc.) without going overboard for non-native ecological

       099  to limit pruning to the bare minimum (removing dead branches,
             avoiding nuisance to buildings, trimming tree crowns, etc.), only if
             essential where dense vegetation or decorative branches are required for
             shade or ornament and injurious or drastic pruning or pruning when
             plants are shooting, in full bloom, or biologically stressed should be
             totally forbidden;

       100  to give urban green spaces the conditions needed to let plants
             flourish, including good soil (volume, aeration, manure), sufficient
             water, protection against disease, pests and vandalism.
On new ideas for watering urban and roadside green
spaces. Using re-cycled waste water
The rational use of water in urban green spaces is becoming more common. In some
areas where aquifers are polluted and wells have been abandoned, the water table has
risen, causing serious seepage in basements, underground car parks, underground
railway tunnels and low-lying areas in general (e.g. the Besòs delta). This groundwater
(like the treated water from wastewater plants) is unsuitable for drinking but could
easily be used for watering urban green spaces. It should be remembered that water
scarcity is a basic limiting condition for vegetation in the area but using drinking water
for plants would be inconsistent with a policy of saving water. The re-use of
groundwater and/or treated wastewater would require a separate distribution network -
which would have to be built from scratch. However, looking on the bright side, such a
network would be an eminently practical way of using treated wastewater to supply
urban green spaces. The tree planting programme along roadsides (1996-97) at the
entrance to Barcelona (from the beginning of Gran Vía to Meridiana) was a wasted
opportunity in this respect. We therefore consider it necessary:

       101  to provide a permanent system for watering roadside trees and
             verges (buried pipes, spray systems), supplied by recycled wastewater
             from sewage treatment plants. This water is unfit for human consumption
             but such a parallel distribution network could ensure a plentiful supply
             for watering trees and plants at very low cost. It could also feed fertiliser
             and plant treatment automatically, keep maintenance costs very low and
             not hinder road traffic;

       102  to use re-cycled water for watering large parks and gardens.

On conservation and creation of urban and suburban green
Increasing the proportion of green space in cities with such high densities as those in the
Barcelona Area is essential both to improve air quality and city-dwellers‟ quality of life.
 This means not only stepping up existing policies for designating green spaces but also
seeking new, more imaginative solutions. Over the last few years there has been a trend
towards planting flat roofs and other areas of buildings in Northern Europe with low
plants. This policy could increase vegetation by thousands of square metres. This type of
gardening uses only very light, thin soils and the plants chosen are easy to care for. grow
slowly and are drought resistant. Mixing a few annual plants with these scrub species
could provide a good solution. What is needed is:

       103  to use urban gaps and wastelands to plant new green areas with
             ornamental and functional plants, using the watering system outlined

       104  to stimulate a commitment to private green spaces open to the public,
             i.e. gardens, small green areas on terraces, patios, common areas in public
             centres and companies, etc., giving technical help to owners, providing
tax incentives and - where appropriate - connection to the recycled water
supply network.
On replanting beaches and urban sea fronts
Considerable efforts are being made in the Metropolitan Region to rehabilitate and
recover areas of the shore which have fallen into neglect and become little more than
wastelands. Examples of the measures taken are beach restoration in the Barcelona
municipality and dune restoration at the Gavà beaches. The restoration and management
philosophy behind these measures (and behind extending leisure ports and promenades)
often means that the landscape gardening techniques employed are inadequate, or in the
worst case, totally unsuitable for the climate and area. Of course, these areas are not
exactly well-suited to normal garden species. Sea breezes laden with salt and vaporised
detergent are not the gardeners‟ best friend. In any case, the considerable importance of
this coastal strip from the leisure and landscape point of view means that a whole set of
improvement measures will be taken in connection with the schemes for the Llobregat
delta and the final stretch of the Besòs river. We consider it necessary:

       105  to prepare a general programme for repopulating the area’s coastal
             strip with vegetation. The aim is to ensure that a sufficiently wide strip
             of vegetation runs along both urban and suburban coastal fringes (yacht
             marinas, beaches, etc.) and that native beach and dune species are
             encouraged wherever possible. Gardening techniques should take coastal
             conditions into account, using halophyllic plants capable of standing up
             to the salty air and the harsh conditions of the local environment (see

       106  to link this scheme with watering systems using recycled water (see
             above), bearing in mind that a green coastal strip would be ideally placed
             to make use of recycled water.

On promoting low-maintenance green areas in the spaces
between traffic lanes and interchanges
There are unused spaces along motorway and dual carriageway verges, on slopes, at
interchanges, etc. This land is unusable for building and a sensible measure would be to
plant it. Not only would this prevent erosion and landslides but also be much more
attractive. The relative dryness of the area requires effective measures to be taken in this
respect and it is important to make the right choice of plant species and thus minimise
maintenance needs. There is still a tendency to set up highly artificial schemes and apply
simple gardening criteria with a strong emphasis on exotic trees and bushes. This policy
needs to be changed for aesthetic and ecological reasons and to reduce maintenance
costs. What is needed is:

       107  to systematically plant gaps between road networks. This policy must
             form part of the road building scheme and be properly budgeted for. The
             project must make sufficient land available to make such a policy
             practical (the gaps between roads are not always sufficient for this
             purpose), with installed watering systems and the use of appropriate
             gardening techniques;
108  to adopt simple gardening techniques with the emphasis on low
      maintenance needs, using native species or exotic ones well-suited to a
      Mediterranean climate, that do not require intensive care. The plant
      species must also fit in with the landscape;

109  to avoid the systematic use of fruit bearing bushes (Pyracantha,
      Cotoneaster, etc.) because these attract birds which increase the risk of
10.8 On energy consumption and the potential of local
energy sources
The main problem to overcome in analysing the current situation regarding energy uses
and sources is quite simply lack of reliable, consistent, useful data. This amazing lack of
information on such elementary things such as consumption, demand and production
can only be explained by an almost total lack of interest by public bodies which also
seem to have little interest in permitting public knowledge and discussion on this vitally
important social and environmental issue. This complacent attitude only serves the big
energy interests, gives rise to mistakes and misconceptions (including the real cost of
energy and the environmental cost of energy use). It is necessary:

       110  to produce statistics on energy generation and consumption in the
             area, including data for waste incinerators, cogeneration plants and
             renewable energy sources. The statistics should contain information on
             the quality of supply, be produced following the guidelines in “Agendes
             21” and employ indicators of sustainable development;

       111  to include energy consumption statistics in municipal statistical
             reports, clearly showing energy use from local and outside sources and
             from renewable and non-renewable sources;

       112  to evaluate the environmental impact of the whole energy cycle in
             order to assess individual impacts and associated risks. To carry out a
             cost/benefit analysis on the whole of the energy cycle in the area to obtain
             a reliable picture of the current situation and ensure that the economic
             cost of energy use to the environment are accurately reflected;

In any event, energy management based on sustainable development cannot rely only on
isolated measures. A decisive and comprehensive policy initiative is required to draw up
an energy plan which makes environmental sense. Such a plan must take regional and
environmental issues into account and stress the use of renewable local sources and
cutting energy costs.

On making the most of local energy sources
The Barcelona Area currently relies almost exclusively on outside energy sources,
almost all of which come from non-renewable fossil fuels. However the area does have
important renewable energy resources. These environmentally friendly local sources are
currently ignored, despite the fact they could meet a substantial part of total energy
demand. What is needed is:

       113 to adopt legal and financial measures which encourage the use of
            solar thermal energy and solar cells in buildings, including blocks of

       114  to promote clear, simple standards on installation and operation of
             these technologies in order to prevent slapdash fitting and losses in
               energy efficiency;

       115  to use biogas from the Garraf and Vacarisses rubbish tips (see 5.6), as
             well as gas generated from sewage sludge;

       116  to efficiently exploit biomass from forest waste in the area and from
             urban wooded areas;

       117  to encourage projects exploiting geothermal energy for water heating
             in areas around thermal springs;

       118  to set aside space for plants to generate energy from renewable
             sources (e.g. co-generation plants, biomass plants, anaerobic digestion of
             sewage waste (biogas) and wind farms).

The Barcelona Area boasts amply qualified technical, professional and business
personnel in the fields of renewable energy sources, bio-climatic architecture and
efficient energy use. These people and groups have worked at both a national and
European level for many years. It is intolerably wasteful and patently stupid for them to
be ignored in their own country. What is needed is:

       119  to create municipal service or mixed companies which cover energy
             needs. (electricity, heating, air-conditioning and refrigeration, piped gas).
             Stress would be laid on the use of renewable energy sources which are
             as cheap as the cleanest conventional energy sources;

       120  to adequately train technical staff and decision makers regarding
             sustainable energy sources and energy efficiency (particularly in the
             public sector);

       121  to give legal priority to local energy companies operating in the field
             of renewable energy sources and energy saving in measures and
             promotional schemes undertaken by local government.

On improving energy generation and distribution
There are two serious problems with energy management in the area: (1) inefficient
energy generation, transport and distribution and (2) the environmental impact produced
by the bad functioning of energy infrastructure. One of the reasons for these problems is
the obsolescence of some of the infrastructure which fails to meet environmental safety
regulations and is badly sited. It has to be said that the frequent tripling up of electricity
distribution networks simply because there are three companies is as absurd as it is
wasteful. Just to add insult to injury, the networks often cross protected areas or are sited
unreasonably close to settlements. What is needed is:

       122  to draw up an urgent plan for modernising electrical services and
             installations to bring them into line with existing regulations and to
             ensure that electricity lines, underground cables, fuel and gas tanks
             comply with the regulations;
       123  to reconsider the modernisation of the Sant Adrià de Besòs and
             Badalona thermal power stations after conducting a study of the
             alternatives currently under consideration for re-siting power production
             using co-generation technologies;

       124  to reorganise electricity lines on a rational basis, eliminating
             duplicated lines, reducing their impact on nature areas and re-routing
             them along corridors in use by other services;

       125  to take the impact of high voltage lines on health into account and
             route them accordingly. bring into force the necessary measures to
             significantly reduce their effects;

       126  to reduce the visual and town planning impact of cables and ducts
             across building façades and on street fitments;

       127  to apply regulations which prevent the installation of new petrol
             stations near densely populated or particularly sensitive areas
             (hospitals, schools, sports areas, etc.);

       128  to set up technical systems which allow recovery of vapours given off
             by volatile fuels at petrol stations and energy generating plants with a
             view to reducing air pollution. This measure would also increase the
             health and safety of workers and users.

On rationalising energy consumption
Industrial energy consumption in the area has fallen to more reasonable levels but
domestic consumption continues to rise and transport use is skyrocketing. The high level
of domestic consumption springs from bad environmental education of the population
and constant and unnecessary use of household appliances. It is important to realise that
the energy causing least damage to the environment is that which is not used. This gives
rise to the concept of the negawatt. In the current situation of ever increasing use,
caused by waste and low efficiency, development means using more negawatts (i.e.
using less electricity), not in laying on more power which simply results in greater
consumption. What is needed is:

       129  to induce rational energy demand instead of simply providing more
             power. This policy would stress quality and efficiency through
             programmes, instead of advertising campaigns, aimed at domestic energy
             saving and efficiency (high performance lighting, thermal insulation,
             timers, energy efficient habits, etc.);

       130  to gradually replace the sale of energy raw materials by energy
             services, i.e. users would no longer buy kilowatts or fuel but, say, frigos
             or calories;

       131  to introduce bioclimatic architectural techniques to ensure efficient
       energy management, thus reducing heating and air-conditioning usage
       in particular and the need for lighting. Detached houses are especially
       spendthrift with energy, above all if they are built on slopes;

132  to promote the use of the energy efficient household appliances and
      lighting systems which are already on the market. Although these are
      more expensive, they prove cheaper over the medium to long term. The
      cost difference either proves unpopular or people are simply ignorant of
      the benefits;
Transport is currently public enemy number one as far as good energy management is
concerned. Transport is the area‟s main consumer of non-renewable fossil fuels and is
the principal source of air pollution. It is not enough to slow this trend, it must be
redirected. There are no easy solutions to this problem so it must be faced on several
fronts. Reducing the number and duration of journeys is impossible without replanning
the structure of the region and the siting of activities in relation to place of residence.
The urgent needs are:

       133  to counteract the trend towards population dispersal and siting of
             residences far from places of work. There will be a relentless rise in
             energy consumption if current trends go unchecked. Reversing this trend
             will not be easy since there is a broad social consensus in its favour:

       134  to promote use of effective and efficient public transport, and
             gradually discourage the use of private transport particularly over
             medium and long distances;

       135  to introduce clean fuels from renewable sources at the earliest
             opportunity (biogas, bio-fuels based on rapeseed or sunflower oil) for
             buses and public vehicle fleets;

       136  to regulate the use of private vehicles, lowering speed limits and
             encouraging the use of the efficient low-pollution technologies already

       137  to implement and encourage park and ride schemes and car sharing
             as well as fleets of hire vehicles for town use. Hire vehicles would be
             parked in designated areas for each city block. Access to and use of these
             vehicles would be card controlled.
10.9 On urban and semi-urban land use
The Barcelona Area‟s urban system is not significantly different from those in the rest of
the Western industrialised world. Its competitive position is based on increasing
consumption of resources, mostly from non-renewable sources. In this situation land an
item of mass consumption while most investment goes into expanding infrastructures
and increasing urban land use. According to the PTGC, all of the flat land in Catalonia
will be urbanised by around the year 2026. Unfortunately the plan states this as if it were
an aim to be reached rather than a grim prophesy to be averted. Until urban expansion
has gone too far, it will not be obvious that the ecosystems on which the city relies only
have a limited capacity. However, town and regional planners are not usually at the table
when whole country or continent systems are under discussion and, when this happens,
the planners limit themselves to long-term large-scale projects and their compatibility
with each other. They do not usually take into account basic elements of system inter-
dependence (except, perhaps, the transport of people, goods and energy), as if the
projects could be divorced from the territory in which they are sited. Occupying all of
the land available thus appears a laudable aim, but is only possible in a never-never land
where the greed and heedlessness of some is unthinkingly sanctioned by the simplistic
logic of small-minded professionals. This type of thinking is of the same order as filling
a stadium so full of spectator stands that there is no room for the playing field.

On abstaining from zoning more land for urban, industrial,
or infrastructural use
The Barcelona Region already contains more unused built on space than free land which
could be built on. Comparing housing demand with existing housing plus that which
could be constructed on urban land or land zoned for development shows that there is
enough space to fulfil needs until the year 2026 at the current rate of new construction.
Some 24% of the Barcelona Area has already been built upon (1997). The housing stock
(including empty dwellings and second homes, plus dwellings which could be built on
urban or development zoned land) is sufficient for the next thirty years. The natural and
cultural heritage are diluted as the city spreads and diffuses ever outward losing its
character so that it shows neither city nor country virtues and becomes into a continuous
suburban sprawl. There are no good town planning or sociological reasons in favour of
such a model, although there are interested sectors to which land is only a consumer
item: they wish to occupy and sell land, despite the fact the population is not increasing,
despite the thousands of empty dwellings in urban centres, (Barcelona has 70,000 empty
dwellings) and the thousands of square metres of office space lying idle. Land not zoned
for urban use plays a vital role in maintaining the area as a system and is simply too
valuable to squander. What is needed is:

       138  to stop new zoning of metropolitan land for urban, industrial, or
             infrastructural uses, given existing land availability on the one hand and
             the grave regional dysfunction further suburbanisation would cause on
             the other;

       139  to plan new road networks and urban areas in such a way that they
             do not split up areas further and do not cut off little bits of land which
              are useless for anything (the case of the dual carriageway running along
              the right bank of the river Llobregat, for example);

       140  to try to build compact road corridors with infrastructure
             concentrated in relatively narrow strips along the route, with central
             reservations which are no wider than necessary and double up for other
             uses (e.g. railway lines) where appropriate;

       141  to stop the building of new low density residential areas because: (1)
             they use up an inordinate amount of land in an area where space is at a
             premium and (2) the consumption of energy and materials is higher
             (greater difficulty in providing road and service access).

On promoting a compact, diverse city
The Garden City is a totally inappropriate translation of the “The American Way of Life”
to our social and environmental context. Even so it has proliferated in both the first and
(more especially the second tiers around the city of Barcelona. In fact, the garden cities
take up 48% of the residential area but only house 12% of the population. The urban
fabric became considerably more complex in the Barcelona Area from the 1970s
onwards, if we consider the previous growth of the city. This process was fuelled by an
enormous use of energy (mainly for transport), an enormous consumption of materials,
many of which are irreplaceable and by profligate use of land. In twenty years (1972-
1992) more land has been occupied than in the previous two thousand years! One can
say that current planning and operation of the Barcelona Area requires increasing use of
resources to keep the urban system running. The present trend is clearly incompatible
with any notion of sustainable development. The current trend needs to be reversed by
increasing complexity, not by pushing outwards on all sides but by looking inwards and
providing for the needs of each area making up the urban fabric. What is required is:

       142  to maintain the traditional compact urban pattern without reducing
             quality of life or dwellings. This policy would ensure compact, diverse
             urban nodes clearly differentiated from rural and natural systems;

       143  to abandon the trend towards low density development which
             produces urban sprawl and housing estates given over to second homes;

       144  to stop attenuating the structure of the city of Barcelona by
             introducing measures in the real estate market, improving public areas
             and streets and redistributing specific services (schools, cultural centres,

On adopting quality and efficiency as bases for
Cities basically provide a point of contact, interchange and communication. When the
likelihood of contact and interchange increases, so does complexity and hence
competition. The most complex area of Barcelona and the most competitive in the
business sector is the Eixample. Both the number and the variety of activities and
information providers to be found there is extremely high. A compact, diverse city
means a need:

       145  to increase the diversity of information providers in relatively small
             areas in order to increase the likelihood of contact and exchange without
             using excessive resources;

       146  to ensure the maximum amount of business activity is packed into
             the urban fabric, not just in the service sector but also in the industrial

       147  to choose investments and activities which provide the greatest added
             value because of the information they provide. This means linking the
             job market with training programmes and new activities;

       148  to ensure that long-established businesses adapt to new production
             and/or service demands;

       149  to stop the building of new shopping centres and hypermarkets
             which damage small retail outlets and produce all kinds of distortions in
             the proper functioning of the city.

On maintaining ecological and landscape diversity in the
Metropolitan Area
A compact, diverse city requires a complementary mosaic of farming areas, woods,
pastures and market gardens. A city needs to exploit other ecosystems to maintain (and
if necessary, increase) its complexity. Placing limits on this exploitation and respecting
the basic functioning of other land use systems is fundamental to the notion of
sustainable development and represents an optimum regional development strategy. If
half of the solution is a diverse, compact city, the other half is a mosaic of other land
uses, providing the necessary balance to ensure rational use and sustainable growth. This
landscape mosaic is the antithesis of wasteful urban sprawl. What is required is:

       150  to maintain and improve the current mosaic of farming land,
             woodland, market gardens and pastures. They should be properly
             linked by corridors and fit in with compact urban spaces.

       151  to avoid the deterioration of areas trapped between the network of
             roads and infrastructures which form barriers across the region.
             Many of these roads lead to sites nobody needs to visit and form
             interstitial zones which are too small to contain a complete ecosystem
             and too large to be irrelevant patches in an overbuilt suburbanised region.

Improving the system of nature areas and biological
Protected zones in the region are currently considered as sanctuaries for fauna and flora.
The fragmentation of these protected areas undermines and impoverishes them,
particularly in the metropolitan area where man‟s impact is greatest. Both protected and
urban areas should be seen as a whole if the diversity of landscape and proper
functioning of the Barcelona Region is to be maintained. Zoning policy in rural areas
needs to be more complex and precise. Regional planning must provide strategic policy
guidelines for these rural areas on active conservation, corrective measures and
renovation. Such initiatives should start reconsideration on the need to carry out the
Road Building Plan and in particular the desirability of the route chosen by the fourth
ring road (planned to cut through land linking nature areas and protecting them from
environmental impact). We need:

       152  to enlarge the planned nature areas and link those which are now
             separated. This link could be achieved by redrawing park limits or
             establishing natural corridors. Such a measure would involve an overall
             reappraisal of the management of urban and protected areas. Caution
             should be exercised before building more roads which could further split
             up protected areas.

       153  to guarantee a minimum degree of protection for unprotected areas
             and those cut off by road schemes and to regulate protection in those
             biological corridors currently neglected and in poor condition (margins,
             river banks, depressions, windbreaks, etc.).

The continuity of open spaces would ensure an ecological exchange between areas
which are heavily used, lightly used and unused. This in turn would help ensure the
necessary ecological diversity - which should be properly respected at the regional
planning stage. The following ecological and landscape categories are useful when
considering areas on the outskirts of towns in the Barcelona Region:

       Large stands of forest in the coastal and pre-coastal ranges.

       Farmland in Penedès county and (just as important) in the Llobregat delta.

       Continuous corridors along the Llobregat and Besòs river valleys.

       A farming and forest strip in the north of Vallès Oriental and Vallès Occidental
       counties, plus fingers of farmland and forest which complement and soften the
       built-up areas of the Vallès.

       Thin strips of vegetation often following the lines of small streams feeding in to
       the main rivers in Maresme county, etc. These strips often pass through built up
       areas and could provide a natural framework for and connection between urban
       park systems.

       Gaps which mark the boundaries between towns. These could perform a useful
       landmark function (the huerta del Maresme (the Maresme allotments) is a case
       in point).

       Open spaces in compact cities - i.e. traditional urban parks whether large or

In any case, structuring the region to take account of geographical and ecological
features presupposes (among other factors) maintaining functional parameters above the
minimum permissible for each area of the region. From what we know it appears that
anything below these thresholds does not fulfil its function. Thus modern agriculture
(here we are not talking of market gardening) requires at least 10-20 hectares of irrigated
land or 50-100 hectares of un-irrigated land. Likewise, it is impossible to maintain a
population of genets (a relative of the civet cat) with less than 3,000 - 5,000 hectares of
forest hunting ground. In some cases, these areas have to be compact and continuous, in
others a network of smaller areas serves just as well. The latter situation provides the
flexibility required for multiple use of areas (woods, human settlement, roads, pastures,
etc.). In conclusion, it is important to respect minimum land areas and biological
corridors. It is a mistake to think one can simply sum areas which are not themselves
viable. The trend is to split land up into useless shreds through negligent planning. This
must be reversed.

10.10 On geological substrates and soils
 The geological substrate in the Barcelona Region is directly affected by the multitude of
quarrying operations required because of the heavy demand for sand and gravel for
building. Quarrying has a severe effect on the environment and on the quality of life of
those unfortunate enough to live near quarries (dust, noise, heavy lorries, etc.), of which
there are more than enough. Furthermore, taking geological characteristics too casually,
which can happen when materials are urgently needed for construction and there is little
time to consider anything else, can lead to abrupt changes in relief and poorly
compacted substrates (causing landslips, rockfalls, erosion, subsidence, etc.). The most
productive soils often end up in depressions or washed down by rivers to the deltas - a
reflection of the failure to take regional characteristics into account. Similarly, virtually
no thought is given to water pollution when tipping waste or land fill.

On regulating quarrying operations
Many of the socio-environmental conflicts which currently arise from quarrying
operations (stone, sand and gravel quarries) are a result of the complicated procedure for
granting licenses. It should be remembered that these activities are not strictly mining
activities, although they are treated as such. This point allows both quarrying companies
and municipal managers to blur responsibilities and provides a fertile breeding ground
for all kinds of skulduggery. Put bluntly, there is not enough to guarantee either public
safety or environmental protection. What is needed is:

       154  to rationalise the various permits and red tape currently required,
             converting them into a single process and document. The organisation
             responsible for issuing the permit would be clearly identified as would its
             legal responsibilities. The body would be properly staffed and have
             adequate resources to do its job;

       155  to draw up a Special Plan for Mining and Quarrying Activities which
             considers overall and specific needs for these activities in the region,
       identifying areas where such operations may be sited and where they may
       not. The plan would also ensure mining and quarrying activities complied
       with both exploitation and restoration plans;

156  to require environmental impact studies and make their findings
      binding before considering new quarrying and mining sites or
      extending existing ones; to increase the size of the guarantee deposit to
      realistic levels and establish effective legal remedies to recover unpaid
      amounts. Mining and quarrying would be properly monitored in
      accordance with pre-established criteria.
On minimising geological impact
There is a deep-rooted belief that the geological framework is immutable and proof
against any kind of ill treatment. Another misconception is that geology can provide
whatever is required of it. In areas like Montjuïc, Aiguafreda, Sant Martí de Centelles
and certain urban areas hills have been used for construction despite having taluses that
are either badly designed or too steep (parts of Arenys de Mar or the Verge de
Montserrat avenue in Barcelona, for example). What is needed is :

       157  to avoid building houses in areas where the substrate is geologically
             unsuitable, to fix or remove large rocks likely to roll down on to
             built-up areas and stop construction on poorly consolidated soils,
             such as coastal organic soils, expansive soils, or land fill;

       158  to establish builders’ financial liability for all subsequent substrate
             problems so that neither house owners nor tenants have to pay for repair
             of shoddy work and for poor planning (this would also mean that the
             authorities would not accept projects that were poorly planned from a
             geological standpoint);

       159  to stimulate production of and access to basic geological data so that
             planning can be based on sufficient information.

On soil protection and management
There is no legislation covering soils, as if “land” were a common, abundant asset that
was identical everywhere in the region. In Catalan there is no distinction between the
words for “soil” and “piece of land”. The failure of the language to reflect this difference
and with it the complex geological, biological and climatic phenomena which produce
such a wide variety of soils compounds the alarming absence of legislation on the
subject. The best soils happen to be on plains or in depressions, precisely the areas most
sought after by urban planners and developers. Building therefore produces a grave
impoverishment of cultivable soil resources. Most of the area‟s most fertile soils are
buried under foundations and asphalt when common sense would have dictated building
on second rate soils, keeping the best land for farming and woodland. Easily
recognisable business interests are partly to blame for this situation, but objective
ignorance also had its part to play. What is needed is:

       160  to draw up a detailed soil map of the area, using an appropriate scale
             and with regional management needs firmly in mind (it should include
             parameters for soil fertility, vulnerability, current degradation and

       161  to introduce the notion of soil quality and vulnerability as a basic
             element when drawing up regional and other plans;

       162  to keep the most productive land for agricultural use (productivity
             classes p1 and p2 and the least vulnerable: classes 1 and 2), restricting or
             banning agricultural use of the worst soils (lowest productivity: class p3
       and most vulnerable: class v3);

163  to catalogue soils and introduce conservation measures for farming
      land, particularly low quality agricultural land (productivity class p3),
      currently abandoned and restrict intensive farming methods in moderately
      productive soils (class p2) depending on their vulnerability;

164  to forbid agricultural and industrial uses on highly vulnerable soils
      (class v3 on gradients over 25%). Restrict these uses in class v3i soils
      (alluvial flood plains);

165  to draw up a strategy and a programme to restore degraded soils in
      the area, whether this be caused by erosion or pollution, with special
      reference to soils currently farmed;

166  to encourage the partial replacement of man-made fertilisers by high
      quality organic waste, preferably manure, followed by compost and
      treated urban sewage, ensuring the use of compost and manure produced
      by farming and livestock activities close to its point of origin.
Measures to regulate activities with an environmental
11.1 On agriculture
If the forecast for population growth and demand for building land contained in the
General Regional Plan for Catalonia is accepted it means the death of agriculture in the
area. Presumably this same forecast will be embodied in the Metropolitan Plan, which is
currently being drawn up. The process may occur quickly in semi-urban areas as re-
zoning happens once again. In more rural areas the process is likely to be more drawn
out, with agricultural land being marginalised and falling in value, fragmenting, being
supplied with water of poor and still poorer quality and finally used as dumps or worse.
There will be incentives to persuade the owners to continue farming and many problems
and pressures to make them give up.

The plan does give agricultural land some vague, theoretical protection, but always in
subordination to the more important needs of the sacred process of urbanisation. Urban
expansion is forecast - one might as well say planned - on areas with slopes of less than
20%. Such areas are few and far between in the region and are currently occupied by the
best farming land, meaning that, even in the best case, farming land on the outskirts of
urban areas is simply a reserve on call for re-zoning. This valuation of farming land sees
only the net product in terms of money per unit area - completely overlooking the
importance and value of agriculture in the global make-up of the region. These kinds of
forecasts for ever-shrinking farming areas are the antithesis of good regional planning,
the aim of which should not be to channel trends but rather subsume to the greater good
and if necessary, to take a completely different direction. A regional plan is an
instrument of government to ensure that things we did not know how to do are done
well, not just a management tool for ordering those actions that we already do badly.
Given this, the priorities are:

       167 to guarantee the stability of zoned agricultural land on the outskirts
            of cities through standard regulations and regional plans so that
            investment in agricultural improvement does not become a risky and
            uncertain business;

       168 to map all agricultural (and non-agricultural) soils on an appropriate
            scale and showing their productivity and to provide the most
            productive land with the greatest degree of protection;

       169 to optimise the performance of agricultural soils, regulating farming
            land and controlling factors leading to deterioration (illegal dumping,
            water pollution, etc.) and to make users aware of the need to protect
            these soils and put them to suitable uses.

On maintaining farming activity
Maintaining farming in the region is of vital importance to stop its conversion into a
conurbation. In terms of sustainability, the region cannot afford to lose its food-growing
capacity (which is already far below what it was, what it could have been and what it
should be); or the social and landscape value of farming land; or the polyvalent regional
matrix which these areas represent. What is needed is:
       170 to recognise the vital role played by farming areas in regional
            planning, their role in limiting the processes leading to a Metropolitan
            conurbation or, worse still, suburbanisation which swallows up all the
            available land;

       171 to stop agricultural areas being split up and link them with a
            network of forest and farming corridors to ensure that they continue to
            function. These links and farming areas would also act as a green belt,
            link ecosystems and help maintain the economic viability of agriculture.
            This policy would also guarantee public rights of way which public
            works (particularly road schemes) have done so much to endanger;

       172 to reconsider the need for and the routes taken by road schemes
            which split up farming areas, particularly the continuous strip of
            farmland along the right bank of the river Llobregat and its delta and the
            improvements planned for Vallès county (the dual carriageway on the
            right bank of the river Llobregat, the fourth ring road). Not only does the
            first scheme endanger the continuity of the riverside strip, but the second
            would also destroy highly productive farm land which links up the region
            and provides a green belt.

On consolidating agriculture on town outskirts and
regulating suburban market gardening
Agriculture in the Metropolitan Region is relatively insignificant at the macro-economic
level, both in terms of the small sums involved and the tiny fraction of the population
occupied in farming activities. However, the productivity per hectare is the highest in
the whole of Catalonia, despite the deterioration in a large part of the land. The
economic vision of the technocrats currently prevailing in the European Union
continually advocates the suppression of crops which are relatively unprofitable. This
short-sighted policy should be opposed because stimulating agriculture on city outskirts
is extremely worthwhile from a socio-economic standpoint. The progressive idea of
“sustainable development of agriculture on city peripheries” should replace the
outmoded notion of “protecting farming land” which merely seeks to slow down the
supposedly unstoppable advance of bricks and mortar. Development policies need:

       173 to encourage farming on city outskirts, taking advantage of nearness to
            the city to provide fresh produce close to the centres of demand, without
            paying the high transport costs incurred by more distant producers and
            with the advantage of better taste and quality.

       174 to modernise production techniques. This means making small
            producers more professional and encouraging production, transport,
            warehousing and marketing co-ops to offset the lack of uniformity of
            the small amounts on offer from each tiny separate smallholding.

There are “wildcat” vegetable patches dotted around the region on the unlikeliest
patches of land imaginable (in the middle of road interchanges, etc.). This is a hangover
from the farming background of many immigrants to the region (and some natives) who
grow their own either for personal satisfaction or to eke out the family income. These
plots do not just breach urban planning and tax regulations, but are a considerable
eyesore (walls and roofs made from cheap remnants or rubbish), a potential health
hazard (irrigation water may come from suspect sources) and a social and cultural
puzzle to the authorities and the bulk of the population, who dislike this activity,
although normally their dislike does not lead them to carry out the expectable corrective
measures. The activity is in effect irregular and often illegal, carries a social stigma but
is usually tolerated. If properly regulated and stimulated as in the Scandinavian and
Central European countries, it would contribute to structuring city outskirts, vastly
improve the landscape and provide a great deal of satisfaction to allotment holders.
Therefore it is recommendable:

       175 to catalogue and study suburban allotments and discover their legal
            status and the personal motives of their users;

       176 to set up a scheme to reconvert and legalise this activity removing
            plots from roadsides and public land and resiting them in suitable
            locations. This would ensure observance of legal and town planning
            provisions, address the health hazard and improve the landscape.

On minimising pollution of soils and irrigation water
Farming suffers from more than just external threats, bad agricultural practices also
cause degradation and contamination. The vast quantities of manure churned out by the
livestock sector outstrip the land‟s capacity to absorb it, resulting in soil and water
pollution. What is needed as matter of priority is:

       177 to catalogue farming areas highly vulnerable to pollution and control
            the use of agrochemicals;

       178 to encourage the partial substitution of man-made chemical
            fertilisers by organic ones in an attempt to reduce the undesirable
            effects of the former; establish the re-use of high quality organic waste
            for farming purposes, while respecting the soil‟s limited absorption

Some bad farming practices not only lead to soil deterioration but also cause diffuse
pollution in both surface and underground water sources. While the debate on the
region‟s water sources continues, the real needs of agriculture should be taken into
account, as well as the quality of water used in farming: On the one hand it must not
contain substances which could contaminate food and on the other hand, it can contain
substances which would be inadmissible in drinking water. What is needed is:

       179 to prescribe fattening diets for livestock which keep the nitrogen and
            phosphorus content of animal excrement as well as the quantity of
            the excrement itself to low levels and to adjust the size of the livestock
            sector to fit the agricultural land available and the true demand for the
       180 to improve livestock farms, cut down on their effluents, implement
            collection of sewage and runoff and stop seepage into soils;

       181 to improve water use in farms and stimulate the use of recycled
            wastewater for field irrigation schemes;

       182 to co-ordinate planning of agricultural use of aquifers, particularly
            along the coastal strip given the problems of salting through sea water

On restoring contaminated agricultural soils
Agricultural land heavily contaminated by industrial pollutants (the case of land in the
Llobregat delta, laced with heavy metals from irrigation water) is a special case. It is
highly likely that the vegetables grown in such areas (particularly artichokes and
cauliflower) contain high levels of heavy metals. What is needed is:

       183 to identify the precise circumstances of soils polluted with heavy
            metals and other health endangering contaminants. To ban the
            growing and sale of vegetables for human consumption until such
            soils have been decontaminated;

       184 to zone contaminated soils for non-farming uses (ornamental plants,
            timber, etc.). should decontamination prove technically or financially
            impossible. However this should not be used as a pretext for re-zoning
            agricultural soils for other uses, which would merely exacerbate existing
            regional imbalances.
11.2 On buildings and facilities
Building techniques in the Metropolitan Region have shown little sensitivity to new
socio-environmental concerns and demands. Bio-climatic architecture, use of building
materials with low environmental impact and energy saving are all subjects which
desperately need to be addressed. This is one of the areas in which the Metropolitan
Region is most backward. This lack has grave repercussions on land, energy and water
consumption. Radical changes must be made over the next few years and this will need
what might be termed a revolution in building methods covering building design,
materials, circulation of fluids, raw materials and way of life. This is definitely an
important change, but it is no greater than the difference in lifestyle and building
methods over the last two generations. Sustainable development will no doubt lead in
this direction.

On promoting appropriate bio-climatic and environmental
The REMMA project (Residential Energy Management in the Mediterranean Region)
was set up by the European Commission in 1993 to restore the astute climatic
architectural skills which our ancestors used so successfully and, of course, to marry
these to the advanced technology available in this end of millennium era. The energy
saving achieved in the 303 dwellings built in Castelldefels (1995) as part of this project
was of the order of 75% in water heating and 85% in room heating. This means an
annual cut in CO2 and NOx emissions of 234 tons/year and 209 tons/year respectively
and an electricity saving of 1,232 MWh. The choice of building materials (so influenced
by trends and aesthetic factors) also has an enormous environmental impact whether in
terms of energy use, consumption of other resources (water, for example), or comfort.
What is needed is:

       185 to incorporate bio-climatic and energy efficiency criteria into new
            buildings as a requirement and encourage their gradual application to
            existing ones to cut energy consumption and air pollution;

       186 to resort to traditional architectural methods in order to reduce
            climatic extremes in all-weather areas (non-reflecting materials such as
            wood, highly heat absorbent paving, arbours in thoroughfares or waiting
            areas, air conditioning and heating intakes placed in shaded and sunny
            areas respectively (i.e. taking advantage of favourable heat gradients);

       187 to encourage the use of materials which are organic and/or texturally
            unaggressive in order to create a cosy, relaxed atmosphere.

On improving sound insulation
Noise and poor sound insulation in most dwellings causes serious problems for many
city-dwellers. Much of the noise comes from the roar of traffic but this level is reduced
to a greater or lesser extent by the sound insulation provided by the building façade and
its height above the source. In a representative sample of 464 Barcelona dwellings the
level of protection ranged between under 15 dBA (8 cases) and over 30 dBA (46 cases),
although the most commonly encountered level for noise attenuation lay between 20 and
24 dBA (197 cases) and 25 and 29 dBA (182 cases). What is needed to remedy this
situation is:

       188 to establish 55 dBA as the airborne noise level and 90 dBA as the
            impact noise level as the sound insulation levels required by the Basic
            Building Regulations (NBE-CA-88), instead of the current 45 dBA and
            80 dBA respectively;

       189 to verify the minimum sound insulation level by random inspections in
            the case of large blocks of flats or by individual certificates;

       190 to soundproof windows and doors in existing building façades which
            give on to busy roads as a way of reducing noise indoors.

On introducing environmentally friendly building methods
The construction process causes temporary changes in the immediate surroundings of
the site which may produce permanent harm if the changes are important or the process
takes a long time. Particular care must be taken in fragile environments like the
Mediterranean one. Some building materials are obtained, treated or produced by
polluting processes. Among such are aluminium or PVC which cause grave
environmental problems during their manufacture (mud produced when treating bauxite
and use of chlorine, respectively). Gravel and sand quarrying and cement factories also
have a negative impact on the environment (scars on the landscape, particle emissions,
etc.). This makes efficient use of building materials an important issue. What is needed

       191 to promote the use of building materials whose production and
            disposal do not harm the environment or those working with them
            whether at quarries, in factories, or at rubbish tips;

       192 to set norms for the building plans to ensure that environmental
            impact is minimised during the building process (protection of
            existing trees, respecting slopes and old field and stream margins, etc.), to
            facilitate restoration once work has finished (the building work should
            not actually be considered as completed until the restoration work is

       193 to prevent eyesores like unclad outer walls whether on detached
            buildings or on those flanked by others but with a disparity in height
            leaving part of the wall in view.

On turning town buildings into energy and water capture
For centuries Mediterranean tiled roofs have collected water in rain cisterns. While we
do not advocate a return to this system (although it had advantages), the scarcity of
water in the region makes it worth finding a way of using the rain which falls on city
roofs. On a similar subject, the surface area of façade sand roofs which could be used to
generate solar power is considerable. Successful pilot projects such as that at the
Pompeu Fabra library in Mataró (which is a net supplier to the grid) show the
possibilities of harnessing the sun‟s power through technology. Fully 65% of the surface
area of the city (roofs) is available for generating solar power and this would be
sufficient to provide domestic electricity needs in the municipality. Just 3% of the total
area would be sufficient to provide water heating through the use of solar panels (unlike
solar cells, panels would have to be sited at the point of demand). Obviously the best
solution is integration of these methods at the design stage (c.f. the Pompeu Fabra
library) rather than as an afterthought. This means that skylights, wall surfaces and
curtain walls could actually be new generation solar cells. We thus propose:

       194 to promote gradual installation of solar cell arrays on building
            rooftops and façades where consistent with building architecture. This
            would turn buildings into mini-power stations which could supply excess
            power to the grid or draw off power from the mains as required;

       195 to promote the installation of solar panels on the roofs of dwellings to
            provide hot water;

       196 to incorporate a second plumbing circuit for non-sewage wastewater
            and link this to rainwater capture systems to provide water for
            flushing toilets, watering the garden, washing the car, etc.). This
            would help to ease the load on the sewer system.
11.3 On large public works and road schemes
There are few things which have as much impact on the region as public works,
infrastructure and road schemes. The impact is a direct one since these works involve
big local changes (earth moving, changes in relief, slope modelling and embanking
works, cuttings, interchanges, diverting river courses and other effects on woodland,
wetland and pastures). However there is also an indirect impact which affects
expectations and functions. Paradoxically, the environment is being forgotten more and
more commonly. Politicians and managers, in offering citizens real solutions to tangible
problems, created new subtler ones, with the help of the technical arrogance of planners
and builders and their narrow focus on the work in hand, leaving it difficult for the
citizen to feel any contact with the environmental change produced. This lack of
involvement with processes changing the environment must be resolved if two
deplorable situations are to be addressed: (1) the evident landscape and regional
dysfunctions arising from the existing planning model and (2) the increasing
unpopularity of public works per se in the more socially conscious part of the population
which perceives them as a destabilising element and intrinsically incompatible with any
notion of sustainable development.

On considering the road and rail networks as a system
The environment and landscape are matrices made up of many elements. Road and rail
networks act as vectors for these. Thus linkage is not an objective in itself but merely an
instrument. Roads are not made to connect two random points but to make it possible to
go to where you have to be (or to where you would like to be). Roads are not the
skeleton of a region but instead a system delineating a pre-existing skeletal structure
which is thus consolidated and strengthened. It is thus a serious mistake to confuse a
region with a road system, since if this is done, mountains, valleys and rivers become
incidental details on the map to be tunnelled through, flattened, filled in, or diverted as
the case may be. The topology of an area comes before its topography - a basic fact
which it is dangerous to forget. It is also important to avoid scarring the landscape more
than is strictly necessary. This cannot be achieved without properly conducted impact
studies which consider schemes from all angles. What is needed is:

       197 to consider a road or infrastructure plan including its global impact
            on the region and society (major alterations to ecological dynamics,
            rivers and land use) and opt for the most socio-environmentally
            acceptable solution - and therefore the best in economic terms - even
            though it may not be the cheapest option or the easiest option technically.

       198 to carry out and abide by the findings of environmental impact
            studies to consider the overall consequences of projects.These studies
            should consider: (1) the situation before the project is implemented (e.g.
            type of road, routes, changes in land use, mobility, journey speed and
            energy consumption); (2) during the scheme (avoiding environmental
            damage is better than repairing it later); (3) after completion (restoration,
            slope stability, replanting, etc.);

       199 to ensure the project budget includes sufficient funds to carry out
               environmental work in accordance with the recommendations set out in
               the impact study. The project should be scrapped if this funding is
               withheld or not considered feasible.

       200 to ensure projects take the necessary precautionary measures and are
            reasonably designed in relation to the EFI (Environmental Fragility
            Index) or equivalent indicator and are also in keeping with geological

Plans based on the idea that the region has to work around geometric road networks
which ignore the geography of the region must be scrapped in favour of planning which
takes present and future ecological corridors into account. Man must work around the
reality of geography, rather than expecting or forcing geography to answer to his needs.
This philosophy does not require renunciation of our ability to structure the area, instead
it requires that we know how to use sense to adjust our irrevocable civilising action to
the needs of the environmental matrix in which it takes place. This makes sense not just
from the ecological point of view but also because it produces a better-balanced, more
functional landscape which is also more economically viable. Technology should be the
handmaiden of knowledge, not its master.

By coincidence, all of these principles can be applied immediately to large road and rail
infrastructures which are currently at an advanced project stage or where building work
has already begun. Thus, we propose:

       201 to pay special attention to the overall environmental impact of the
            high speed train, the 4th ring road and the Llobregat dual
            carriageway and to adopt measures to minimise such impact.

On refraining from building new dual carriageways
Plans announced to build a polygonal road network between townships of 5 to 10 km
diameter, limned by dual carriageways defining their perimeters, would inevitably result
in complete urbanisation of land with slopes of under 20% and part of the land with
steeper slopes. Dual carriageways act as the shock troops and quartermaster for the
invasion by built up areas. Construction begins close to the roads and finishes by filling
in all the gaps. The network envisaged in the road building programme would segregate
the biotopes in the region, most of which are too small to survive alone. The
simplification and deterioration of isolated land ecosystems is one of the main reasons
for stopping the current planning of dual carriageways. What is needed is:

       202 to abandon the idea of building a network of dual carriageways in
            the Metropolitan Region which would result in a diffuse conurbation
            covering the whole region;

       203 to abandon building of the 4th ring road, at least in its present form.
            This road project would cause irreparable damage to the area next to the
            Serralada Prelitoral (coastal range) and mean the existing areas of
            farming land and woods would be urbanised. Current land use must be
            maintained for conserving and re-organising the bordering nature areas;
       204 to reconsider the building of new tunnels through the Collserola
            range, because their impact would, despite any number of subsequent
            restoration projects, only produce further fragmentation and isolation of
            the massif.

On conserving existing rural tracks and paths
The network of forest tracks and rural paths in the Barcelona Region is a valuable
heritage which in many cases dates back centuries (for example the Camí del Mig in the
Maresme is a path which probably goes back to Roman times). These paths meet many
local communication needs, serving forestry workers, firemen and leisure seekers
whether on foot riding or driving. These tracks and paths therefore need to be
maintained and their use controlled (at certain times of the year general access is not
advisable). However their upkeep should not involve tarring since this turns tracks into
roads which would simply attract more traffic, noise and environmental pressure while
endangering walkers and fauna. Once tracks are turned into roads they become just
another part of the network, bringing extensions, ironing out of curves, re-routing, etc.
so that they no longer fit in with the countryside. One might consider light surfacing
(similar to that found on many British country tracks) which would cut down on
maintenance costs but stop them turning into roads. What is needed is:

       205 to ensure the existing network of tracks and rural paths receive full
            protection as part of the countryside as well as proper upkeep while
            avoiding tarring to prevent them being converted into roads;

       206 to plant lines of ornamental trees along both sides of country paths (in
            some cases this will only be possible along one side) with a view to
            discouraging path widening and fast driving;

       207 to create strips and sleeping policemen in lanes which have already
            been tarred to stop drivers treating them like normal roads;

       208 to make drivers slow down at road junctions, by building roundabouts,
            narrow stretches and changes of direction, introducing speed bumps,
            noise strips and changes in road colour and texture, etc. To ensure that
            the country code is rigorously applied to driving along these lanes
            and tracks, which are intended as access routes to woodland and rural
            areas, not as trial tracks for four wheel drive vehicles.

On large infrastructures linked to the Llobregat Delta Plan
and how they fit in with the environment
The planned growth of Barcelona port and airport, both sited in Prat de Llobregat, will
have further environmental and regional impacts. The changes to the port area are
heralded as making Barcelona and its hinterland extremely competitive as an
international logistics centre. However this is clearly unacceptable if it entails a high
socio-ecological price tag. The port has been the keystone for the city‟s competitive
position since the formulation of the Strategic Plan for the Barcelona Region (1968),
with subsequent plans repeating the same theme. The idea has always been to turn it into
the biggest port in the Mediterranean. However, the plan as currently conceived seem to
be a little generous in its sizing, although this will undoubtedly generate changes and
profits which have little to do with the port activity as such. The airport, despite over 10
million passengers a year, is currently little more than runways and a terminal. It lacks
workshops, hangars and airline company headquarters. The plan is for it to become a
hub for Southern Europe, which means it will have to meet air safety and logistics
requirements. The immediate problem is the serious impact expansion will have on the
delta area which includes legally protected wetlands The so-called Llobregat Delta Plan
is not really a plan at all just a hotch-potch of various projects. It does not properly take
into account these problems or for that matter, others related to planned large
infrastructures (an oversize sewage treatment plant, the Llobregat dual carriageway, the
incinerator). It is rather strange that the only document which looks at these projects
from a global perspective is the alternative proposal produced by DEPANA. This NGO
has produced a study as an altruistic gesture while the public authorities (which are
obliged to conduct a study) have done nothing of the kind. Therefore, we propose:

       209 to carry out an environmental impact study of the “Delta Plan”
            taken as a whole. This study should be thorough and include genuine
            alternatives (such as those proposed by DEPANA), while remembering
            that a basic step in this is for the public administrations concerned to
            publicise the planned projects in detail (including those already begun as
            well as those which have simply been announced);

       210 to ensure the design and building of the new airport facilities (third
            runway, new terminals, etc.) is compatible with nature conservation in
            the legally protected areas. For example, the separation between the
            third runway and the current main runway should not be greater than
            1,100 metres and nor its length over 3,000 metres in order to avoid
            seriously affecting the Ricarda and Remolar wetland areas;

       211 to re-examine the size of wharves, spits and the logistics area in the
            current port extension project. The current plans appear inflated.
            Oversized facilities would have negative consequences for the region and
            coastal processes;

       212 to seriously re-examine the idea of diverting the final stretch of the
            river Llobregat (which has never been convincingly defended in any of
            the projects or public statements). In any event, one should treat the bed
            of the existing river course with extreme care since it is probably heavily
            contaminated (the proposed flood course on the new right bank seems a
            good idea);

       213 to reconsider the route planned for the dual carriageway along the
            right bank of the river Llobregat. There are good environmental
            reasons for routing the road along the left bank (space saving, less danger
            of flooding, respecting farming land);

       214 to ensure that the budgets for all the foregoing projects include
sufficient funds for the environmental restoration work which will
be required, bearing in mind that the unique features of this area require
very special care.
11.4 On mobility
The regional planning model currently in vogue in the Barcelona Region produces a
vicious circle of ever greater distances between place of residence and work and
increasing use of private vehicles for commuting rather than public or shared transport.
These disastrous trends are mutually reinforcing. Moving around town is still mostly
done on foot, A standard Barcelona road running along a city block (road surface: 100 X
10m with 1 parking and 3 driving lanes; 2 pavements of 100 X 4m gets jammed with
just 40 cars (say 60 people), whereas 150 pedestrians can comfortably walk along the
pavements in the same street. Logically, this fact should mean that pedestrians are
accorded greater respect. Unfortunately nothing could be further from the truth.
Although by far the majority in every street, pedestrians are forced to use the little space
clear of obstacles. Pavements are encumbered with rubbish containers, traffic lights, bar
terraces and cars - many of them (at least in Barcelona) belonging to out of town
commuters. Recently there has been a welcome move towards widening pavements. The
situation is even more outrageous when one considers that the private vehicles which
use so much of the available space also use 15 to 20 times more in energy resources than
pedestrians. In any event, the Region badly needs to overhaul its policy with regard to
mobility if real improvements are to be made.

On giving the streets back to the pedestrians
Being a pedestrian is part of being a city dweller. Everyone is a pedestrian at some point
and many of us are pedestrians much of the time. Moving around town is mostly done
on foot, particularly in the smaller cities and in towns, but also in larger cities when the
distance to be covered is under a kilometre (about 10 minutes on foot). But an increase
in the number of journeys on foot, particularly in compact cities, would occur if the
quality of pedestrian life were augmented by improving the design and convenience of
pavements and pedestrian routes and the chains of linked squares and small parks along
pedestrian thoroughfares and would also increase the viability of small ground floor
shops. This idea of the street fully accords with Cerdà‟s concept of the city and with the
anti-functionalist reaction which is to reclaim the multi.functional character of the street
as a place for traffic, of course, but also and above all as a place to spend time, meet
people and do things. What is needed is:

       215 to restore the notion of the street as a social area, giving streets more
            value, vitality and the character associated with the duality of
            traffic/living space, especially after the narrow rationalistic pans zoning
            life and movement separately;

       216 to replan the design of pavements, returning them to their correct role
            as a pedestrian precinct rather than just an area in which to put street
            furniture; containers; traffic lights; bar terraces; bus stops; badly parked
            cars; and to make them more attractive by providing them with assets
            such as small gardens, shade, etc.

       217 to ensure that new pavements are at least two metres wide (i.e.
            enough for 3 pedestrians walking abreast plus half a metre for services).
            This means that old narrow streets less than 6m wide between buildings
               would become pedestrian walkways.

Restricting traffic is the only way to get anywhere near a reasonable balance between
different means of transport and to provide a wide range of options, including rational
use of cars. Instead of looking at the city from the point of view of restricting traffic, it
seems more sensible to consider things from the standpoint of promoting pedestrian use,
bicycles and public transport as a way of improving the quality of life in towns. One
good way to reduce traffic volume in cities within the Barcelona Region would be:

       218 to create areas within which non-resident traffic would be restricted
            (perhaps only at particular hours), with special exceptions limited to
            ambulances, vehicles driven by the handicapped, public transport and
            other public services (such areas already exist in the Ribera and Ciutat
            Vella districts of Barcelona).

On a new model for urban transport
If collective public transport is to be rapid and efficient, the number of private vehicles
on the roads needs to be reduced. General use of private transport is the main cause of
urban dysfunction because of the sheer amount of space it takes up, the noise and
pollution it creates and (true irony) the way it blocks city streets and stops moving. The
last point is particularly telling as it separates our position from that of the
“fundamentalist”. The most compelling reason to cut down on private vehicle use in
towns is its inefficiency. Furthermore, it is a mistake to think that adding a few buses to
streets already jam-packed with vehicles is any sort of a solution, since it just adds
further pressure to an outmoded system that is full almost to bursting point and needs to
be changed.

People continue using their private cars, despite traffic jams and parking problems
because it is often the less difficult or even the only way of making certain journeys. If
there were just a few bakers in the city instead of one on every corner people would
obviously resort to making their own bread, despite the obvious inconvenience and cost
involved in having a private bread oven in every house. In the case of public transport it
is not just a question of putting a bus on each corner, since the streets are already packed
with vehicles, but rather of creating a new model of public transport which works with
the unobtrusive efficiency of lifts and escalators in large department stores. The solution
is eminently practical in a compact city and quite impossible in diffuse cities. What we
propose is:

       219 to conceive and gradually introduce an alternative urban mobility
            model based on public transport systems which take up most of the space
            for traffic, the opposite of the current inadequate system where public
            transport is complementary to private cars, even though these do not
            provide the efficient service one would hope for;

       220 to improve the service provided by urban and inter-urban public
            transport in terms of routes, timetables, etc.

On exploring new ways of using private town vehicles
Rethinking mobility in the city areas with the heaviest traffic cannot be separated from
new forms of use of private or shared cars. The cars on sale are actually much better
designed for motorway driving than for getting around in cities. This basic point is often
completely overlooked. The differences between a van and a juggernaut, or a bus and a
coach are clear to anyone. But the cars used on motorways are also used for city travel
although their gearing is inadequate, their size inappropriate and their lending
inadvisable. Scooters are so popular because, in this context, they are the exact opposite
of cars, although much more of their popularity comes from their being the answer to a
spontaneous demand than any planning decision. Since it seems unreasonable for town
dwellers to have two vehicles - one for the motorway, another for the town (often they
have no real need for a car at all) new use patterns have to be adopted. What we
recommend is:

       221 to encourage the use of bicycles and scooters, in conditions where
            road safety is adequate such as: special lanes, suitable routes for cyclists
            (flat, shaded) and in the case of two-stroke motors some sort of sound

       222 to introduce car pooling schemes in certain areas;

       223 to introduce self-drive taxis, an experiment which has already proved
            successful elsewhere (in Lille, for example), using small electric vehicles
            of a new type which recharge automatically at their parking points.
            Parking stations might be found for five of these vehicles at every
            crossroads in the Eixample area of Barcelona and they could be paid for
            by magnetic cards.

       224 to make long stay urban parking progressively more expensive as an
            incentive for drivers to set off again as soon as possible (or, even better,
            to change their form of transport instead).

On setting minimum standards of service for public
transport and improving links for suburban train services
One problem of diffuse cities is that they never attain the critical mass needed for
efficient public transport systems. In Vallès county for example, there is practically no
public transport system between the towns and villages in the area or between towns and
industrial estates. The problem is even worse in garden cities - 80% of these have no
form of public transport or only have that which existed before prior to housing schemes
(as in the case of the Sarrià to Terrassa/Sabadell line, the backbone of the Catalan
Railways which dates from 1916-1922). This lack of public transport also affects the
suburbs of the large cities and the old housing estates, although to a lesser extent.
Generally speaking, the areas deficient in public transport are also badly planned, often
remote, low density housing areas built on steep slopes (25% of the area) on remote
sites. These town planning problems affect 6% of the Metropolitan Region and 34% of
the population in garden cities. What is needed is:

       225 to improve public transport between low density housing areas,
              particularly in the second and third tiers around Barcelona, currently
              almost entirely devoid of public transport systems.

There are problems with railway network linkages caused by the three railway gauges
(one RENFE gauge on the Barcelona/Igualada/Manresa line, another on the
Barcelona/Sabadell/Terrassa line and yet another on the Ferrocarrils de la Generalitat
(Catalan Railways)). This makes the network much less flexible than it appears on
paper, while train-bus interchange stations are virtually non-existent. The railway
service has improved markedly over the last couple of decades, particularly the suburban
railways, but the network itself has hardly changed from the 1970s, when it served a
much smaller and much less mobile population. Railway goods transport falls a long
way short of providing a reasonable minimum service. The cement factory at Montcada
currently uses local schists and calcareous rock brought in from Garraf by road even
though there is a railway line with stations right by the quarry and right next to the
factory! A further argument in favour of extending suburban train services and
upgrading the existing network is that they produce compact urban nodes instead of the
urban sprawl encouraged by road networks. What is needed is:

       226 to significantly extend the rail network and improve connection in
            the existing network. This applies equally to passenger and goods
            traffic. Rail should provide the basic form of public transport between
            towns, complemented by a bus service network operating in and between
11.5 On the generation of noise
Noise has become one of the most important environmental nuisances in industrial and
urban areas. Since it is impalpable and ephemeral, there is no way of pinning it down or
tracing it when it has stopped, it is difficult to monitor and control. On the other hand, it
is well-known that noisy streets put off potential house buyers and that noise affects
both health and behaviour (sleep problems, aggression, etc.). So it is not exactly
intelligent to site housing right next to noisy industrial areas or busy roads, nor to close
your ears to the ever-growing need to reduce noise levels. U.S. legislation forbids
building houses where noise levels exceed 75 dBA on the Leq scale, while a recent
regulation promulgated in France forbids building within 75 to 100 metres of a
motorway or a major road.

According to the last noise map produced for Barcelona, fully 46% of the public area of
Barcelona exceeds 65 dBA during the entire day (0800-2200 hours) which explains why
locals have to shout to make themselves heard. At night (between 2200 and 0800 hours)
71.9% of roads are above 55 dBA, which is currently the maximum level permitted.
Since the average sound insulation on dwelling façades is 24 dBA, this road noise is
attenuated to under 35 dBA indoors, (which is the maximum level at which most people
sleep well). This means that people living along roads where night noise levels exceed
55 dBA will have problems in sleeping properly. We need:

       227 to provide all townships with noise maps showing the general noise at
            any given point, plus the noise levels throughout the day and the areas
            with the greatest problems;

       228 to ensure that all townships have a clear set of by-laws which require
            noise regulations to be strictly complied with (setting 65 dBA on the Leq
            scale as the daytime maximum and 55 dBA as the night time one).
            Townships should also be legally required to carry out frequent tests to
            detect and punish those breaking the by-laws.

On preventing through traffic from using local public
Traffic is the main source of noise in urban areas in the region. Streets with traffic
volumes over 10,000 vehicles a day break the 70 dBA barrier while just 1,000 vehicles a
day is enough to produce 65 dBA (the decibel scale is logarithmic). The number of
vehicles on the road needs to be cut to produce a significant reduction in noise level (i.e.
<65 dBA means <1,000 vehicles/day), so that priority on most streets should be given to
local traffic. Through traffic should be channelled along special routes with sound
absorbent road surfaces and have priority at traffic lights (a better traffic flow means less
abrupt braking, gear changes and acceleration which means less noise). This leads us to
the proposal for urban islands surrounded by fast through routes. Traffic within these
areas would be restricted while those living near the expressways would need to have
proper sound insulation. The main routes set out in the General Metropolitan Plan
(covering the whole metropolitan region) would be a useful starting point in determining
these traffic restriction areas. In other urban centres a network (preferably in the form of
a grid) would need to be established defining expressways and hence the traffic
restriction areas. The network of expressways for through traffic would require rotating
car parks with easy pedestrian access to these areas. People living next to the
expressways would seem to be worse off from such a scheme but in fact noise levels
would probably fall as a result of more fluid traffic (even without taking into account the
impact of special road surfacing, traffic light phasing, etc.). We consider it necessary :

       229 to establish a network of main roads (expressways) with noise
            absorbent road surfacing and priority traffic lights to channel through
            traffic and define areas restricted to local traffic (<65 dBA, <1000
            vehicle/day) and pedestrians;

       230 to establish a network of peripheral car parks at the edges of these
            traffic restriction areas with a view to facilitating pedestrian access;

       231 to forbid building within 75-100 metres of main road routes given the
            impossibility of guaranteeing reasonable noise levels in this strip and as a
            precautionary measure until regulations can be introduced to take noise
            control measures.

On improving the noise attenuation characteristics of
urban structures
The poor sound insulation in most buildings and the way sound bounces back from most
walls and road surfaces worsens the noise problem in the city. Thus most of the noise
from properly maintained modern vehicles travelling at 50-60 km/hour comes from road
noise (tyre/asphalt contact). However, a covering of just 3-4 cm of sound absorbent road
surfacing reduces the noise level by 2-3 dBA while a layer 8-10 cm thick absorbs 3-4
dBA. Experiments with greater thicknesses (40-50 cm) have reduced noise levels by 7-8
dBA. Noise barriers are another effective measure and are employed in many European
countries but are very unusual in the Barcelona Metropolitan Region. These barriers are
effective and reduce noise levels by 3-4 dBA. Screens of vegetation are less effective (1
dBA per 10 cm of thick vegetation). What is required is:

       232 to encourage construction techniques which improve the sound
             insulation properties of buildings and stop the building of sound
             reflective façades particularly in canyon-like streets.

       233 to use sound absorbent road surfaces on expressways and, where
            possible, on all roads;

       234 to use sound barriers where necessary (along suburban main roads;
            expressways which run into city centres; along central reservations, or
            particularly noise sensitive areas, etc.).

On reducing noise emissions
One of the first measures required to reduce noise levels is to attack emission sources.
There are so many sources of unnecessary noise that a great deal of progress could be
made in a relatively short time. Public vehicles (buses, taxis, rubbish lorries) and goods
delivery vehicles could reduce noise levels by 4-5 dBA simply by using gas fuel. This
policy will become more practical once the CIM installations have been built at Baix
Llobregat and Vallès and foodstuffs are distributed from Mercabarna (Barcelona
wholesale market) since most of the deliveries are made in small vans. Goods trains (of
which many more are needed) make so much noise that an 8 - 10 dBA cut would be easy
to achieve under a programme currently being conducted by UNIFE (International Rail
Industry Union). The high speed trains currently planned make a great deal of noise but
only for a short period (depending on the speed and length of the train). Nevertheless,
they will have to be made quieter. What is needed, as a bare minimum, is:

       235 to run public vehicles on gas fuels, preferably biogas, which means
            setting up a distribution network (currently extremely limited);

       236 to limit noise emissions by goods delivery vehicles. The setting up of
            restricted traffic areas will make enforcement easier. Delivery times
            must also be limited to daytime hours;

       237 to prevent unreasonably noisy vehicles from using the roads and to
            stop the use of excessively noisy machinery;

       238 to institute a noise control policy for rail traffic aimed at reducing
            noise levels in town centres or sensitive areas, encouraging noise
            insulation measures in residential areas next to rail lines and erecting
            sound barriers where appropriate.

Finally, there is the case of short-term, nut often just as annoying sources of noise,
particularly at night (e.g. night clubs, discotheques, etc.) where there are lots of cars and
people. These establishments need to be brought into line with regulations covering
residential areas. It would be a good idea:

       239 to establish and enforce ordinances requiring adequate sound
            insulation of premises and exercise tighter control of public behaviour
            inside and around these points. This needs to be complemented with a
            policy of resiting these facilities in less sensitive urban areas.
11.6 On the generation and treatment of waste
The first thing to note is that the solid waste treatment plants in the Barcelona Region do
not meet regulations. The first steps to take, in addition to the others mentioned later,are
as follows:

       240 to accelerate the adaptation of gas scrubbers at the Montcada and
            Besòs incinerators to bring the emission levels into line with the gradual
            decontamination plan agreed with the Catalan Government‟s Department
            of the Environment. In addition to the scrubbing system, another system
            is also being installed to absorb dioxins and furans using activated

       241 to upgrade the Besòs incineration system to turn into a modern
            plant. The first step in this process was the replacement of the old
            incinerator beds in 1996;

       242 to treat luxates from the Garraf rubbish tip. These sink to the lowest
            point in the tip. Offers are currently being invited for treatment of these
            luxates by ultra filtration. There is evidence that some luxates and gases
            from the tip have filtered into the limestone, where they will eventually
            make their way to the nearby coast. Sealing the tip with bituminous
            waxes injected through transverse drill holes will involve an investment
            of at least 30,000 million pesetas, while treating the luxates will require a
            perimeter drain to collect rainwater.

On improving rubbish tips and rejecting new incinerators
Rubbish tips, if managed on the lines contained in the MWP (Metropolitan Waste
Treatment Plan), should only be used for waste left over after treatment. The disposal of
this residual waste in controlled tips should cause the minimum environmental impact
possible. It is essential that systems are adopted which reduce smell; gas emissions;
water pollution; the presence of animals; the danger of explosions and visual impact.

In relation to waste incineration, the MWP makes it clear that new waste management
policies will include selective collection and recycling of organic and inorganic waste
fractions and that it will only be necessary to incinerate a little over 400,000 tonnes per
year in the period 2004-2006. This reduction in waste for incineration means that a third
incinerator is not needed. Nor is it necessary that the Sant Adrià and Montcada plants
are modernising a good part of their components, since there are no known cases of
working incinerators being shut down. Another argument against the prospective third
incinerator is that the operational cost of three incinerators can only be justified if they
work at close to full capacity. This will not be the case if residual waste for incineration
is reduced as planned. The only way to make the plant viable would be to recycle less. A
new incinerator would use graelles if emerging incineration technologies (e.g. fluid bed)
were considered unproven. Clearly it makes no sense to open a new incinerator using
conventional equipment and close another of the same technology and capacity,
particularly since a new plant would involve an investment of around 25,000 million
Pesetas. Finally and most importantly, choosing incineration over recycling and
treatment of solid waste is incompatible with the principles of sustainable development
and puts the rest of the waste treatment programme at risk. What is needed is:

       243 to definitely choose minimisation and recycling of waste as basic
            tenets in the solid waste treatment policy of the Region;

       244 to improve operational conditions in existing tips and ensure that the
            best practices are adopted in new tips (using them only to dump
            unrecyclable or unusable inert materials);

       245 to refrain from building a third incinerator and complete the
            modernisation of the two already in service (as indicated above).

On composting selected organic material from solid waste
Depending on the characteristics of the area from which it comes, the weight of organic
material in domestic waste is 38% and 45% (the urban and rural ends of the range,
respectively). This organic material can easily be put to good use, simply closing the
natural cycle and returning to the earth what sprang from it. Since there is a dearth of
organic material and fertile soil in the region (and most of Spain for that matter) it
makes good sense to recycle this waste. Using organic waste for composting is an
important part of an environmental policy based on sustainable development. However,
to make recovery of this organic fraction viable one needs:

       246 to sort waste at source and maintain this separation throughout the
            collection and treatment process. This means providing all
            households with biodegradable bags for food leftovers;

       247 to ensure that there are enough containers for organic material. The
            organic waste would be taken to a biological treatment plant (the siting of
            organic waste containers as part of a selective treatment plan is a legal
            requirement in townships of over 5,000 inhabitants under the provisions
            of Law 6/93).

Micro-organisms break down organic material in the presence of oxygen to produce
compost, which can then be used in farming as a fertiliser base or a ready to use
fertiliser depending on its precise make-up. The composting process releases gases,
basically carbon dioxide and water. Composting plants consume energy (30-35 KW per
ton treated). The amount of compost produced is only limited by the costs involved and
by market demand for compost. In this respect it is highly desirable to:

       248 to stabilise the cleanest organic material from selectively collected
            waste and use it for composting in modern well-managed plants (there
            have been examples of how not to do it);

       249 to ensure that the compost produced is of a quality sufficient to
            improve soil fertility and structure and is suitable both for
            agriculture use and for land recovery and restoration.
On methane production at solid waste treatment plants
Organic waste which contains over 5% of foreign bodies will go to methane plants.
Anaerobic bacteria break down organic waste in the absence of oxygen and tend to
ferment biodegradable material, producing a liquid or semi-liquid effluent faster than
conventional composting processes. The gas produced in this process is made up mainly
of carbon dioxide and methane. For this reason the anaerobic digestion process is also
known as methanogenesis. This biogas can be stored and used as a fuel. Methane
production provides a net energy gain when humid waste is employed in the process
(100-150 KW per ton treated). On the other hand, the liquid or semi liquid effluent
produced by anaerobic digestion is toxic for plants because of its content of pollutants
and in some cases pathogenic micro-organisms. This and its low NPK concentrations
makes it unsuitable as a fertilizer while its high water content makes it uneconomic to
transport. However, if the effluent from the anaerobic process is given a second stage of
aerobic treatment, it provides a better compost which can be used for recuperation and
restoration of degraded sites. Thus an approach which combines methane and compost
production would seem to be the best option.

Biogas can be used in specialised plants to produce electricity; electricity and heat; or
just heat, it can be introduced into the gas system after a natural purification process or it
can be used to fuel motor vehicles (once again, after a purification and then a
compression process). The most common use is for electricity production (with or
without re-use of waste heat) because of the ease of supply and distribution of the
energy produced, its low cost and proven market experience with these systems.
Furthermore, most of the electricity generation systems do not require purification of the
biogas. However, the option which makes most efficient use of the energy locked up in
the biogas is purification and subsequent distribution through the natural gas network.
Looking at the issue from the economic point of view gives a different answer. If the
cost of the energy and the efficiency of the processes are compared for turning biogas
into electricity, purified gas, and heat, we discover that the best option is fuel for

Biogas would be much more attractive as a vehicle fuel if a balance could be struck
between methane gas and diesel prices. Bearing in mind the current fiscal position and
the fact that biogas could receive favourable tax treatment as a renewable energy source
the fuel option has a great advantage over the use as gas and cogeneration. The annual
net income from biogas produced at Garraf and methane production plants is three times
greater than that obtained from generating electricity. Garraf biogas (see below) and that
from the methane production plants would be sufficient to fuel the whole metropolitan
bus fleet which currently consumes 55 litres of diesel per 100 km or 20 million litres of
diesel fuel a year. The Garraf plant would produce enough gas for 1000 buses while the
other plants would produce enough for a further 300 buses). As there are currently under
900 buses in the metropolitan fleet, there would be sufficient gas left over to power
rubbish lorries (which use about a million litres of diesel a year). Modern vehicles using
pressurised natural gas are both safe and practical and there are now over a million
worldwide using this technology. What we recommend is:

       250 to establish methane production plants to treat all the impure
            organic material (i.e. that containing over 5% of foreign bodies) and,
               eventually, the pure organic material which cannot be composted, to
               obtain biogas;

       251 to use compost produced from organic material containing
            impurities to recover and restore degraded land and to produce
            biogas which should be used to fuel the bus and rubbish lorry fleet in
            the region because this would be a notable economic and environmental
            contribution and serve as an example to citizens. It would also provide a
            tangible reward for the effort involved in separating household waste.
            Further benefits would include less vehicle noise and vibration and much
            less pollution than that produced by modern diesel vehicles (since the use
            of biogas also means not emitting the thousands of tonnes of gases and
            particles produced by burning a non-renewable source like diesel fuel.

The anaerobic digestion plants will also have to provide a margin for flexibility in
managing organic wastes, thus they will have to be capable of using both fermentable
material which contains a high proportion of foreign bodies and high quality pre-
selected organic material. Biogas would be produced in both cases but in the latter case
the second stage compost would be an important by-product. The MWP envisages
330,000 tonnes per year of organic waste going to methane plants. Such quantities have
never yet been treated in any city in the world, but we must remember that, although
there are already 20 plants in operation worldwide, these have been built in a very short
space of time. The European Union considers anaerobic digestion as an emergent
technology in the waste management field. Industrial methane plants, which provide a
basis for comparison, have a capacity of 25,000 and 30,000 tonnes a year. It would
therefore seem sensible to plan plants with 2, 3, or 4 modules, each with a capacity not
exceeding 25,000 tonnes/year. This modular planning would confer greater operational
flexibility, allowing organic fractions with differing contamination levels to be
processed separately and thus being able to produce different grades of compost.

On controlling methane emissions from the Garraf and
Vacarisses rubbish tips
The fermentation of organic material in the Garraf and Vacarisses tips produces
enormous emissions of biogas. Biogas contains 55% or more of methane (CH4), water
vapour and other gases such as carbon dioxide (CO2) and hydrogen sulphide (H2S), etc.
Unburned methane has several times the effect of CO2 as a greenhouse gas although the
latter is the prime cause of the greenhouse effect since it is present in much larger
quantities. Calculations by the ITEMA on the greenhouse effect caused by the gas
emissions in the region (traffic, industry, heating, rubbish tips, etc.) consider the Garraf
tip to be a significant source of such gases.

Methane is a high energy fuel (as mentioned earlier, the biogas generated by the Garraf
tip could provide the same amount of energy as that stored in the Sau dam). While there
are big differences in the estimates for the total amount of biogas which the Garraf tip
could generate, the company IMISA estimates that it could produce around 85 million
cubic metres in the year 2000, equivalent to 448,000 MW. The estimate for methane
plant production is for 25,000 tonnes of biogas a year from 233,000 tons of organic
waste from selective collection. It does not seem reasonable, from any point of view,
that this energy source has been ignored until comparatively recently while the needless
environmental impact of fossil fuels on the planet‟s atmosphere has been sustained over

The current state of affairs in the Garraf rubbish tip makes an early start on restoration
work advisable, since the sooner work is begun, the less luxates will have been
produced. The MWP assumes that no fermentable organic waste will enter the Garraf tip
after the beginning of the year 2000. This means various controlled tips will need to be
in place by then. The decentralisation of tips throughout the region would be the most
sensible policy. In this respect it is essential:

       252 to avoid releasing spontaneously generated biogas emissions into the
            atmosphere from the Garraf and Vacarisses tips, capturing them
            instead for subsequent energy production (the technical conditions
            required for an electricity generation project are currently being drawn
            up, the power produced will be pumped into the grid);

       253 to ensure that the rubbish tip restoration project is begun by the year
            2000, as planned in the MWP, the year after which organic waste will no
            longer be admitted to the tip (a new European Directive on rubbish tips
            restricts the dumping of organic waste to controlled tips).
On minimising and recycling inorganic waste
Inorganic materials make up between 55% and 62% of solid waste in the Barcelona
Region, i.e. between half and two thirds of the total. In the 1970s this proportion was
only 40%. The rise is largely due to the increase in non-returnable containers, most of
which are made from paper or plastic. The per capita generation of solid waste has
increased dramatically over the last twenty years (800-900 grams per person per day in
the 1970s to almost 1200 grams currently) without contributing to an improvement in
quality of life. Indeed, the reverse is true since this volume of waste has only
complicated public waste management and increased the price of products (often
camouflaged by a transfer of the cost of collecting and cleaning or recycling containers
from the private to the public sector) and wasted an intolerable amount of resources and
energy. In any event, there will always be a significant inorganic portion in solid urban
waste, most of which can be recycled, particularly if household waste separation and
waste collection is selective. What is required is:

       254 to encourage a reduction in the amount of urban solid waste
            generated, stopping the abuse of non-return containers and cutting down
            paper waste and paper-based products (massive use of brochures and junk
            mail, low re-use of paper, etc.);

       255 to establish agreements to reduce manufacture of non-return
            containers and packaging and encourage the use of recyclable
            containers as well as cutting down packaging volume;

       256 to encourage the proper separation of household waste and ensure
            that householders have convenient access to nearby collection points
            and/or containers.

Paper and cardboard is the second largest fraction of household waste and the
worldwide experience of selective collection has proved a success. Paper and cardboard
collected in the region is recycled by Catalan and Spanish paper companies. As Spain
currently imports some 650,000 tonnes/year of paper, there is a lot of paper to recycle.
Shops and businesses in the Barcelona Region generate some 78,000 tonnes/year of
cardboard and paper, which makes it worth collecting on a door-to-door basis, even
though this means changing the rubbish collection rates paid by shops and businesses.
What is needed is:

       257 to make door to door collection from shops (particularly cardboard),
            offices (paper) and blocks of flats (especially newspapers and
            magazines). Experience in other European cities and in North America
            shows this system to be very successful with very high percentages of
            paper and cardboard recycled.

Glass, like paper, is ideal for recycling. The amount of glass which cannot be re-used
(but can be recycled) is between 20 and 25% of the containers sold. Bottle banks
provided on the basis of one per 500 inhabitants have led to recovery of a significant
portion of this glass. The amount recycled could be increased to over 50% (the
minimum percentage laid down in current legislation) with door to door collection from
bars and restaurants. Catalonia currently recovers 26.7% of its glass, while the Sant
Cugat township is the one which recovers most in quantity terms (18.9 kg/capita). This
glass is easy to recycle. Bottle manufacturers currently recover 17% of bottles sold.
What we recommend is:

       258 to make door to door collection from important sources of empty
            bottles (bars, restaurants and other catering establishments) and keep the
            bottle bank system for householders use (while, if possible, improving
            the appearance of bottle banks).

Selective collection has not proven very successful when it comes to light containers
(plastic, metal and tetrabrick), particularly where these have to be taken to some central
collection point. However the amount recovered increases spectacularly when collection
points are close to dwellings.

Plastic film makes up almost 40% of the plastic waste fraction and, together with special
domestic waste, is the item which causes most problems with effective waste
management. All waste recovery and recycling techniques have problems in coping with
plastic film: composting, methane production and waste selection are made more
expensive by having to weed out this element from their respective processes. What is
needed is:

       259 to reduce the use of plastic film to an absolute minimum and strongly
            recommend that it is never mixed with other waste, particularly not
            organic waste;

       260 to retain special containers for selective collection of plastic, metal
            and tetrabricks.

On introducing a network of junk collection centres and
ensuring complete separation of toxic residues
Junk collection centres are useful for small businesses since they act as places to dump
the waste produced by specialised work (repair, rehabilitation, painting, etc.) which used
to be thrown away at roadsides or into the nearest ditch. However, junk collection
centres should also act as the first step in the recycling chain.

City dwellers can also use junk collection centres to get rid of bulky waste which is not
accepted by the rubbish collection service or rubbish dumps. Periodic door-to-door
collection has made it possible to recycle a significant proportion of this junk, whether
through re-use of old furniture and household appliances (through foraging). Some of
the junk collection centres should be sited as a line along the plains flanking the city‟s
mountainside, whether on the Collserola side or against the coastal and precoastal
ranges. Last, least, but still a big problem, toxic and dangerous substances may only
make up 0.2% of total domestic waste but their presence prejudices the recovery of the
rest. What is needed is:

       261 to establish both door to door collection and junk collection centres
            for bulky waste and provide small recovery “workshops” under cover;
262 to develop legal, economic and organisational mechanisms to ensure
     that most special residues are collected in separate channels from
     those applicable to general domestic wastes.
On a change in solid urban waste policy, treatment
techniques and public attitudes
The foregoing approach to waste management - which coincides with the adoption of
the MWP - represents a complete change in mentality. The idea of merely “eliminating”
wastes without bothering with their management has clearly been abandoned in favour
of the principle of “transforming” wastes, turning them into useful materials or energy
sources while cutting down the amount of waste generated. This change will have an
impact on many people‟s daily habits but will probably have an even greater impact on
politicians and municipal experts. The former will have to promote sustainable
development strategies in their manifestos and confront lobbies whose fierce opposition
stems from narrow self interest. The latter will have the job of implementing these
policies. What is needed is:

       263 to encourage political reflection on the issue of sustainable
            development, change politicians‟ approach to waste management and
            draw up municipal budgets which reflect the costs of a global
            approach. Review budget provisions undermining integrated
            programmes (often with allocations not controlled by departments
            directly involved in solid urban waste management);

       264 to provide continuous professional education for municipal experts
            to ensure that they keep up with the latest technological and
            environmental techniques and approaches and help turn them into
            agents of change rather than letting them act as technocratic obstacles to

       265 to institute effective environmental public awareness and
            information campaigns on all these subjects to promote changes in the
            general public‟s habits and attitudes towards the environment. Make the
            benefits clear (lower costs mean lower taxes). Reduce sanitation rates
            depending on the waste minimisation achieved. Put on demonstrations in
            the municipal markets. Advantages of recycled materials (recycled
            primary materials recuperated for public benefit). Savings from methane
            production (public vehicles fuelled by biogas, improvements in air
            quality, etc.).
11.7 On the treatment and regeneration of waste water
More than half of Barcelona‟s waste water (from the Southern part of the city) goes
untreated and ends up in the Mediterranean, together with the effluents from Prat and
Hospitalet. Nevertheless, plans for the future and projects currently underway give some
cause for optimism. Plans for all of the treatment plants still required in Catalonia have
already been drawn up, with a combined theoretical capacity to treat the wastewater
generated by 9 million inhabitants (current population around 6 million). Most systems
foresee biological treatment and there is some talk of eliminating nutrients, though, it
turns out that by nutrient elimination they almost always mean nitrogen, there is seldom
any mention of phosphorus, except as an afterthought. Optimism should therefore be
tempered by the reflection that these plants aim to turn out “clean” water, not water
which is biologically useful. In any case, water treatment is not just a duty from the
health point of view, but should also makes ecological sense and aim to ensure an
environmentally sound use of the land and its resources. A narrow technocratic view of
the issue could result in a hydrological system which is little more than a network of
catchment areas, distribution networks, sewage pipes and treatment plants to the point
where the water, whether clean or dirty would end up passing through the system while
all the rivers ran dry.

On improving the policies of the Wastewater Treatment
The Wastewater Treatment Plan is being put into practice in the most heavily
industrialised towns. The first stage of the plan involves the building of physicochemical
plants which will later incorporate biological treatment methods. In theory this will
allow treatment of both urban and industrial wastewater in each town, as industry will
have to control its discharges in accordance with established parameters. Livestock
effluent is another matter. Muck spreading is not a solution - there is just simply too
much muck and too little land in livestock areas like Osona to make this a practical
proposition. Swimming pools pose a lesser problem, but tend to release toxic products.
While it is important that the Wastewater Treatment Plan continues, several aspects
require urgent reconsideration. We consider it necessary:

       266 to totally abandon the idea that treatment plants at the end of the
            line should cope with everything that is thrown at them.
            Intermediate networks are needed to form mini-systems since these
            would: introduce an element of responsibility at point pollution sources;
            improve specific wastewater treatment; allow cost apportionment for
            distribution of regenerated water (important in economic terms);

       267 to upgrade the advanced or tertiary wastewater treatment systems
            and improve the conventional ones, promoting new energy-saving
            technologies which provide better water treatment;

       268 to control industrial wastewater and ensure that it is treated on site
            or at least that discharges do not have a negative environmental impact.
Physicochemical treatment plants do not improve biological water quality in rivers.
Biological treatment plants, when operating properly, produce reasonable quality water -
sometimes without the need for dilution (the case of the Centelles plant) or with
relatively little additional water. Water quality upstream may be good (Sant Llorenç
Savall) but this drops off significantly when treatment plants are stretched to meet
demand (Vilafranca, Igualada, Sant Feliu de Llobregat). The water treatment does,
however, make it easier for natural purification processes to work. Maintaining animal
and plant communities in the river means avoiding brusque changes in water quality.
Such changes can arise from factors like storm runoff (which means diverting some of
the treatment plant wastewater because of river surges) or because the biological plant is
unable to cope with the sudden entry of a particular pollutant. What is needed is:

       269 to turn physicochemical treatment plants into biological ones (subject
            to proper operation) and build sewage ponds to homogenise wastewater
            prior to treatment;

       270 to modify the treatment plant at Sant Feliu de Llobregat so that
            biological treatment can be carried out without overloading capacity.
            At present water stays in the biological reactor for just 4 hours. This
            means the outlet water is oxygen depleted and full of ammonia (although
            this type of plant meets EU norms it does nothing to solve the problems
            of the ecological quality of water in rivers).

Most of the treatment plants built over the last decade will become obsolete over the
next 20 years unless there is an ongoing modernisation programme. Around 2015 there
should be effective individual treatment systems in place and new plants (more efficient,
smell-free and mainly using natural systems) should be fully on line. Almost all of the
nutrients will be removed by treatment plants (except where the treated water is
intended for agricultural uses). A balance should also be struck by then between
discharges and re-used water (inland, a balance will have been struck between using
river water and re-use, while all water might be re-used along the coastal strip). What is
needed to make this so is:

       272 to introduce radical improvements in the collection and transport of
            wastewater to make them compatible with the separate treatment
            systems which will have become commonplace;

       273 to properly manage storm runoff within an integrated urban hydrology

       274 to ensure integrated treatment of industrial wastewater and livestock
            muck. The nature of industrial wastewater will probably change as
            environmental controls take effect.

On managing the sewage and storm drain network
The villages and towns in the Barcelona Metropolitan Region sprouted in an
unorganised way. The growth of the sewage and storm drain network has been similarly
ill-planned with bits being added on every time a new housing development appears,
thus overloading the existing capacity. Barcelona provides a good example of this
process, as great sums have been sunk into upgrading the sewer system and yet only the
Olympic Village-Poble Nou area (which has received most money) can really boast an
adequate system. Meanwhile, other areas around Camp Nou (Riera Blanca), Plaça de les
Glòries and the Paral.lel-Sant Pau del Camp sectors still remain to be tackled. The
myriad problems that exist: smells, blockages, collapses, pipe fractures, flooding and
continual extension and repair needed by the network mean that a substantial
improvement is needed to the municipal sewer system so that it can provide integrated
treatment of domestic wastewater and storm water, rather than its original more limited
purpose of evacuating sewage. What is needed is:

       275 to introduce effective advanced management techniques to address
            the problem of urban drainage, regulate flow patterns, prevent floods
            and ensure that the solutions adopted fit in with treatment system

       276 to adopt centralised technical control in each township with complete
            alphanumeric data, visual information, data on the area and network, etc.

As is common elsewhere, rainwater and wastewater in the area both go through the
same system. This is a reasonable solution in countries with regular rainfall patterns but
not in the Mediterranean region. Enormous variations in rainfall make it very difficult to
decide the size of sewer pipes required while mixing runoff with sewage means losing
relatively clean water which could be used for better things. Rainwater also washes out
airborne pollutants which can affect the proper functioning of treatment plants,
especially during the first few minutes of a downpour. Furthermore, storm runoff can
prove too much for the treatment plant causing sewage overflows which then pollute
any nearby fresh water system. Ponds, streams and rivers are incapable of biologically
supporting this kind of treatment every six months or so. What is needed is:

       277 to design separate sewage and storm drain systems to keep runoff and
            wastewater separate and permit each to be treated differently.

On regeneration and use of treated water from treatment
All the water on Earth has been regenerated and has been in horrible places many times.
Both from a practical and an economic viewpoint, it is obvious that some of the water
receiving tertiary treatment at wastewater plants could be used in many sectors, if it
were properly disinfected. Unfortunately, tertiary treatment is relatively uncommon in
the region. In any case, it is clear that some of the treated water must be returned to
rivers to maintain their ecological flow patterns and natural landscape features, we must
always remember that rivers are water courses. However, another portion of this water
could form part of a virtually closed circuit similar to that used in some industries
(although increasing mineral salt levelss set a limit to this use). In the Barcelona Region,
almost all treated water is used to irrigate golf courses, although other prospective
projects include creating wetlands (Llobregat and Besòs), recharging aquifers and
irrigation of farming land. There is also the possibility of using treated water for
industrial purposes and for watering parks and planted roadside verges, as well as
providing complementary flow regimes (as nearly happened with the river Llobregat
during the 1991 drought). What is needed is:

       278 to improve existing tertiary treatment processes (which currently only
            focus on nutrients) and ensure that treated water poses no danger to
            health, even when the water is not intended for drinking water;

       279 to create special distribution networks for treated water, similar to
            those used in Vitoria-Gasteiz (Basque Country) and California (400 hm3
            per year or 10% of the total wastewater volume is re-used in this
            American state). The network(s) serving industrial needs (including car
            washes), farming uses, parks and gardens and fire hydrants should be
            clearly distinguished from the rest of the water supply network;

       280 to promote the use of treated water in maintaining urban green
            spaces and roadside verges, mainly through fixed watering systems
            directly linked to treatment plants.
11.8 On generation and treatment of sewage sludge
Wastewater treatment plants do not make filth disappear, they merely separate it out
from the water. The biggest lumps are held back by the separation meshes. The rest,
together with chemical products and the remains of micro-organisms used during the
treatment process, pass through to form sewage sludge. This sludge is usually dried and
pressed, but even so still occupies quite a volume. The proliferation of treatment plants,
in itself no bad thing - although it would be more convenient if the process did not
require so much water -naturally results in a greater volume of sewage sludge, to the
point of causing a mountainous problem. This should be no surprise: the sludge is
merely the concentrated and palpable expression of the dirt people produce every day.
Finding an acceptable way of disposing of it is still a problem and in some cases the
solution should not be acceptable: the method adopted by the Besòs plant, for example,
is to ditch 4,000 tonnes wet weight of sewage sludge per year into the sea, where they
would have ended anyway if the plant did not exist.

On treating sewage sludge
The first stage of the treatment process is elimination of any pathogenic micro-
organisms in the sludge. This is normally achieved by exothermic fermentation or co-
digestion of the sludge along with other organic waste from urban, agricultural,
livestock and even industrial refuse. The technologies which use heat treatment to
destroy organic material are expensive because they have to take place in special
facilities fitted with gas scrubbers similar to those used in incinerators.

Sewage sludge contains a whole range of pollutants which are present in different
concentrations depending on the source of the wastewater. Just as with incinerator
waste, the sludge contains salts and organic materials which have to be eliminated. What
is needed therefore is:

       281 to employ aerobic or anaerobic fermentation of sewage sludge to
            remove pathogenic micro-organisms and permit its subsequent use as a
            fertiliser or soil additive;

       282 to continue experiments with flux mixtures of organic waste
            materials from various sources (urban, livestock, agricultural and even
            industrial) in search of a synergic process which is worth pursuing from
            both the technical and economic points of view;

       283 to provide sewage sludge treatment plants with gas scrubbers similar
            to those used in urban waste incinerators with a view to eliminating any
            harmful emissions.

On using inert sludge in the agriculture and construction
Ideally, organic material should return to the earth from whence it came. Thus the
organic materials from various sources which are present in sewage sludge can
eventually be turned into fertilisers. Progress has been made in technologies which
produce well dried and sterilised sludge along with co-generated energy. This approach
is very promising if the dried sludge produced can be used later. Unstabilised dried
sludge disposed of in a tip will continue fermenting once it is wetted by rain or layers of
damp rubbish. Interesting experiments have been carried out with ceramic processes
(production of ceramic blocks and bricks for the construction industry. What is needed

       284 to continue experiments in the use of dried sludge in ceramic
            processes. The process is promising but the gases emitted during firing
            would need to be carefully controlled;

       285 to consider applying stable and pollutant-free sewage sludge to the
11.9 On open air leisure activities
The large population inhabiting the Barcelona Region requires a considerable amount of
outdoor space for their leisure activities. These requirements must be satisfied with the
provision of sufficiently high quality leisure facilities while making certain that neither
the leisure makers nor the facilities damage the environment. As one would expect,
active leisure use peaks at weekends (out of town nature areas, second homes in country
areas etc.) and during the Summer holidays there is the usual stampede to the coast
(particularly in August) by both locals and tourists. Those who remain in the city make
increasing use of parks. All of these leisure patterns involve some kind of environmental
impact (filling up jerry cans at the nearest spring on walks with the family, hunting and
gathering etc.). The beaches are a special case.

On regulating and restricting hunting in the Metropolitan
Hunting is obviously an activity which is quite unsuitable for areas on city fringes.
Walking can be a dangerous pursuit if trigger happy townies loose off at the local game,
even though maintenance of the stock of fauna is increasingly important. On the other
hand, most people appreciate animals for aesthetic reasons and because they form part
of the natural heritage, rather than as target practice. For this reason hunting in the
region presents a whole host of problems, with too many hunters and poor game
management. What is needed is:

       286 to replace the 1970 Hunting Law with a new one which takes into
            account the needs of the hunters of the region. Hunting should be
            forbidden in Barcelonès and Maresme (except for controlled shoots of
            boar and roe deer) and better regulated elsewhere in the region;

       287 to redraw hunting areas, establish the minimum size of private game
            reserves at 1000 hectares, revoke the present hunt free areas and
            establish Voluntary Reserves for restocking purposes, located right by
            one or more game reserves (thus creating large hunting areas).

       288 to promote professional management of hunting grounds, whether
            privately owned or Voluntary Reserves, based on criteria of sustainable
            development, to create model hunting areas, as pilot projects to
            demonstrate new and better hunting management systems and to
            demand proof of hunting ability before issuing a hunting licence, the
            proof must cover marksmanship and gun safety along with knowledge of
            the area and environment.

On the control and dispersal of leisure in nature areas
Most of the population have very unspecific requirements when it comes to areas for
practising outdoor leisure activities: any non-urban area with sufficient vegetation will
do. Some of these sporting and leisure activities are carried out in specific surroundings,
usually in suburban or semi-urban areas, such as playing fields, theme parks, racing
tracks and circuits, golf courses, etc., but other activities take place in purely natural

To satisfy the legitimate expectations of this part of the population it is necessary that
the nature area be carefully managed, both to fulfil the requirements of the public and to
ensure that the hordes of visitors and the heavy use to which a specific region is put do
not destroy its ecological value. This is even more essential in the case of protected
areas, or those areas which are especially fragile or valuable. For this reason the
activities of the public should be dispersed over the area, depending on the needs of the
visitors and the load to be borne by the ecological systems. Thus some activities should
be concentrated in particularly appropriate areas which visitors will find both suitable
and convenient enough to dissuade them from traipsing through other areas which might
be more delicate, more valuable ecologically or less fit for the desired use. The
regulations drawn up for Nature Parks in the Region already take different types of use
and visiting habits into account, although this is not the case for the many suburban
natural parks which do not have special protection. In this situation, it is

       289 to plan and set up a network of leisure areas located on the plains and
            in riverside woods, to be run by local councils, regional boards or even
            private individuals, with basic services laid on (toilets, water supply,
            cooking facilities, etc.) and safety and environmental education
            equipment (guards, fire fighting points, explanatory notices, etc.) of a
            sufficient size to allow unrestricted access, either free of charge or at
            minimum rates.

       290 to guarantee access to these leisure areas, by public transport from
            urban zones, provide adequate free parking close by or a shuttle service
            from the car park to the leisure area.

       291 to define and manage specific areas solely for all-terrain motor
            vehicle sports, both car and motorbike, in areas where this sport can be
            enjoyed without risk to the environment or to the general public (erosion,
            noise, traffic problems for walkers, interference with agricultural land or
            livestock, etc.) and discourage this activity outside the established

Some part of the desire for open air leisure pursuits can still be satisfied in urban ares, if
the use of parks and gardens is appropriately regulated. This does not of course mean
building sports grounds in green areas, but of defining certain paths for joggers or
runners, and preparing other areas for leisure pursuits, rest, etc. As with the nature areas,
these activities should not be allowed to impair the ornamental or landscape value of the
green zone, instead they should bring the more peripheral or marginal areas back into
use or incorporate new areas into existing parks. The proposals are:

       292 to encourage the use of urban parks as leisure areas by preparing any
            necessary equipment or support services, while guaranteeing the integrity
            of their ornamental and landscape values;

       293 to attempt to provide parks and gardens with peripheral sports
               tracks which could also be used as links between different urban green

       294 to take advantage of the new image created by these pursuits to
            reinforce sustainable practices in mediterranean urban gardening,
            whether in choice of species, in the layout of the gardens or in the use of

On the replanning of the concept, location and
management of golf courses
Golf courses require a considerable amount of space and therefore their location must be
carefully chosen. Just by being what they are, golf courses can act as a buffer zone
between over-visited and fragile or endangered areas. Leaving aside the a priori question
of whether golf courses are a necessity or an inconvenience, we should consider that,
since they are necessarily large green areas with social prestige and much in demand,
their role in the regional structure can be an important one. Important, definitely,
although not always positive, if laying them out causes the destruction of valuable
natural areas, or if their extravagance with water leaves the wells dry for other areas, or
if they bring in train further urban possibilities which are not environmentally desirable.
For this reason it would be a good idea:

       295 to estimate the global requirements of those golf courses in the
            Region, ranked by seniority in concert with a sustainable regional
            development policy which emphasizes their function as buffer zones
            between urban or over-visited areas and fragile or protected natural
            areas, that have not damaged zones naturally valuable in themselves, and
            are not involved in speculative urbanistic manoeuvres;

       296 to guarantee the supply of usable water to other more deserving
            causes in the area, in the Barcelona Region this would mean preferential
            use of regenerated wastewater and guarantee use of fertilisation
            methods which do not cause pollution to soil or run-off.

       297 to link golf courses with tertiary water treatment systems, so that the
            land taken up by these installations shows a further added value
            (ornamental lakes and pools, which are also functional) so that the water
            used to irrigate the grounds is partly treated right there.

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