Flood risk trends in coastal watersheds in South Spain: direct and indirect impact of river regulation
- 1University of Granada, Fluvial Dynamics and Hydrology – Andalusian Institute of Earth System Research, Granada, Spain
- 2University of Cordoba, Fluvial Dynamics and Hydrology – Andalusian Institute of Earth System Research, Cordoba, Spain
- 3University of Cordoba, Fluvial Dynamics and Hydrology, Cordoba, Spain
- 4University of Granada, Environmental Flux Dynamics – Andalusian Institute of Earth System Research, Granada, Spain
Abstract. Spain is one of the world's countries with a large number of reservoirs per inhabitant. This intense regulation of the fluvial network during the 20th century has resulted in a decrease in flood events, a higher availability of water resources, and a high development of the irrigated crop area, even in the drier regions. For decades, flood perception was reduced since the development of reservoirs protected the floodplains of river; this resulted in later occupation of soil by urban, agricultural and industrial uses. In recent years, an increasing perception of flood events is observed, associated to the higher damage associated to extreme events in the now occupied areas, especially in coastal watersheds. This work shows the change on flood risk in the coastal areas of three hydrographic basins in Andalusia (South Spain) during the reservoir expansion period: the Guadalete, Guadalquivir and Guadalhorce river basins. The results differentiate the impact of the regulation level on both the cumulative distribution functions of the fluvial discharge near the river mouth, for different time scales, and the associated damage related to the enhanced soil occupation during this period. The different impact on the final medium and long term flood risk is also assessed in terms of the storage capacity per unit area throughout the basins, the effective annual runoff/precipitation index, the frequency of sea storms, and the human factor (change in social perception of floods), for different intervals in the flood extreme regime. The implications for adaptation actions is also assessed.