Seville’s floods: Past, present and future . Vicente González Rodríguez
Introduction Location and Relief
The Seville municipality is located in the province of Seville, which is part to the Autonomous Community of Andalusia in the south of the Iberian peninsula, on the left site of the Guadalquivir River. However, Triana and Los Remedios occupy the side right of this navigable river making Seville a port city. In Seville’s surroundings there is a countryside land.
The city is located in the floodplain of the Guadalquivir, at the Guadalquivir’s trough. The average height above sea level is 11. It’s notorius that the horizontality of the city and its surroundings, It’s an important factor in flooding as we could see later.
Why Seville is so flooded?
Objectively,The place where Seville was founded was not a good choice. Seville was based on the bed of a mighty river floods during the rainy season. The climate factor does not help to much because there are periods of heavy rainfall.In Guadalquivir and the city, even the first settlers were confronted by a succession of floods, epidemics, and long periods of famine.
Floods in the past
During 1940 and 1941, there was a very strong rainy season that caused extensive damage to Seville. As a result, It was decided to undertake a project that was stalled since 1933, it hoped turning the urban stretch of the river at a dock with an airlock and levees on the sides, and divert the course of the river to the west.
What was the project?
The project cut several river meanders off (Codos de Tablada, Las Delicias and Punta del Verde), and closed the city, so the flow of the river could be regulated in order to prevent flooding in the city center. Moreover, another stream of Tagarete and Tamarguillo joined the mainstream of Guadaira. Navigation (Remember that Sevilla has a river port) also got better,since the distance from the sea was reduced 40 km, and the speed of the current increased because of the meandering stream removing.
What was the project?
The short Chapina* closed the river preventing further flooding while they carried out the renovations. A new artificial channel between Chapina and Tablada, get an old goal: to move away “the live stream” of the Guadalquivir. While the walls to defend Triana were building, Los Remedios and Heliopolis, also channeled the Guadaira, which will no longer be a problem. When Cartuja was closed,this process was concluded, bringing the artificial channel of the river to San Jerónimo.
*La corta de Chapina.
River Lock(1) On the left you can see the current “live stream” of the river and on the right the dock passing through the hull the city.
Evolution of the river artificially modified .
Tapón de Chapina . It was an artificial block to prevent the river flow while some relevant work were making in order to modify the defenses that held the city against flooding. Tapón de la Cartuja . Tapón de Chapina was abolished and the “artificial elbow” was extended to St. Jerome, so Seville won more than 5 km of river. In this print you can see the barrier primitive that defended the city from flooding of the Guadalquivir and the rivers nearby.
Currently the city is shielded against flooding. Moreover, it is one of the best cities protected from these natural phenomena. As an example: The Duero reached earlier this year 2,200 cubic meters per second, overflowing onto Zamora and Valladolid. However, the Guadalquivir river reached 2,500 with no impact on the town of Seville. It is estimated that the defenses are intended to handle up to 3,000 cubic meters per second.
American garden completely flooded by the rains of late 2009 and early 2010. Photo taken at ground level in one of the banks of the river at the entrance to Seville.
Samples collected in 2010 levels in the heart of Seville
Problems of the modifications
According to the RAE, the definition of river is: Watercourse continuous and more or less water than flows into another in a lake or sea.
And now we are facing these problems :
The Guadalquivir River is NOT a river(near Seville). Because :
Its banks has completely broken.
The water does not lead anywhere .
Sea water enters twice daily leading level rises in the dam of Alcalá del Río, the current Grand Cap.
The water of the Guadalquivir last stretch can not go to the sea, and all it can do is move across the channel up and down as the tide made, and meanwhile the concentration of clay and salt is increasing little by little.
Obviously it is impossible to guess future disasters or a storm water period. But I can mention a project that it is being created and there could be the possibility that the “live stream” of the river passes through the town of Seville again.
What is planned?
The Plan seeks to achieve 2 main objectives : 1) the urban river was setted as the main street of Seville, and 2) Delete the image of the river as "separator" and enhance its role as "connecting element." Overall, the objectives of the interventions are: 1 – Change the definition of 'dock dead' by 'living river ", improving water quality.
2 - Getting the recovery of scenic views from the river, so that you can see the city from the river. "
3 - Remove the barriers on the banks to increase accessibility, removing buildings and facilities which hinder the passage.
4 - Establish a riverside walking trail along its entire length.
5 - Increase the use of margins with low utilization, implementing new equipment.
6 - To promote the activation of the port functions as the port is a stimulus for the local economy.
7 - Restructuring unconsolidated coastal areas.
8 - In the other arm of the river outside the city center, enhancing the diversification of productive activities: agricultural, and tourism and sports .
And finally …
A video that shows us clearly what it is really the Guadalquivir River, our ally .