Bilbao, one of the largest cities in the Basque Country, has seen heavier rainfall, warmer winters and a heightened flood risk as a result of climate change. Bilbao is addressing these risks through participation in the international research project, ‘RESIN – Climate Resilience Cities and Infrastructures’, in which the city works with researchers to find ways to adapt to climate-related challenges.
Since the 1970s, Zorrotzaurre to the north of Bilbao had been on a continuous social and industrial decline, with only 500 people living on the peninsula at its lowest point. Today, it is the city’s biggest regeneration project. This started with the re-designation of land use in the area from ‘industrial’ to ‘residential’ in 1995. The Zorrotzaurre Master Plan was then drawn up to open the Deusto Canal, making the Zorrotzaurre peninsula into an island. The open canal and green banks will let river water flow through, reducing the water level by one metre and significantly reducing the risk of flooding. Three storm water tanks and a new flood protection wall along both riverbanks are also planned, which will help protect riverside housing.
A study conducted by the RESIN partners from the Basque Centre for Climate Change (BC3) found that as a result of the new waterway the 10-year return period for expected flood events will no longer apply, resulting in a 100 percent reduction in expected costs. For the 100-year return period, the estimated damages will be reduced by €162.72 million. Excavation works are already underway and expected to be completed by spring 2017.