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AQUAVAL - Sustainable Urban Water Management Plans, promoting SUDS and considering Climate Change, in the Province of Valencia

LIFE08 ENV/E/000099

Project description   Environmental issues   Beneficiaries   Administrative data   Read more   Print   PDF version  

Contact details:

Contact person: Eduardo BALAGUER PALLÁS
Tel: +34 962 289801
Fax: +34 962 289809

Project description:


Wastewater from the city of Xativa overflows most years from the municipality’s combined sewer system, due to the local water treatment plant being unable to cope with large water volumes during periods of heavy rainfall. The sewer discharges directly into the river Albaida, thus deteriorating water quality and threatening the river’s ecological status. A similar problem occurs in the municipality of Benaguasil, with sewer overflow discharging into the river Turia. A study in 2007 found that the status of both rivers was not ideal, with deficiencies in dissolved oxygen and some negative environmental impacts on river vegetation detected. Moreover, the presence of high concentrations of certain chemicals regulated by the EU Water Framework Directive (2000/60/EC) was also noted.


The main objective of the AQUAVAL project was to introduce the use of Sustainable Urban Drainage Systems (SUDS) to the municipalities of Xativa and Benaguasil. The project’s specific aims were to prevent sewer overflow; to reduce energy consumption; to avoid urban flooding by making the drainage infrastructure versatile enough to cope with the effects of climate change; to reduce ‘hot spot’ impacts caused by large impermeable surfaces; and to exploit collected rainwater for irrigation and street cleaning. Furthermore, the project developed community environmental policy through the integration of the environment into urban water policies. The project demonstrated the SUDS approach in the two cities.


The AQUAVAL project introduced the use of Sustainable Urban Drainage Systems (SUDS) techniques in the municipalities of Xativa and Benaguasil in the province of Valencia. By doing this, the project achieved a more coherent and integrated approach for managing urban storm water in these cities, and demonstrated how the techniques could be applied in other Southern Mediterranean regions where the SUDS approach is relatively unknown. AQUAVAL promoted a wide range of scientifically-verified SUDS technologies and approaches, and extended their use to other regions in Spain with the collaboration of SUDS experts from the University of Abertay Dundee (UK). The project also worked to integrate capacity building measures, with the collaboration of administrative bodies, private companies, universities, non-profit organisations and the general public.

The project successfully presented solutions for addressing the runoff from drained areas that previously caused environmental damage by discharging pollutants and by the physical impact of higher flows. The project’s six SUDS demonstration sites in Xativa and Benaguasil, where these solutions were applied, showcased for southern European regions the development of a sustainable drainage culture. A key project output was providing demonstrated protocols for new and sustainable storm water management at the urban scale in Mediterranean municipalities.

The project demonstrated the value of SUDS in reducing electricity consumption, and therefore CO2 emissions, through urban water management and on buildings (e.g. green roofs). Water and wastewater facilities are some of largest and most energy-intensive installations owned and operated by local governments, representing up to 35% of municipal energy use. SUDS can reduce energy consumption by, for instance, reducing the inflow of storm water into sewer systems and hence the energy consumed in the treatment and pumping of wastewater; reducing local “heat islands” through shading of building surfaces to lessen cooling and heating demand; and saving on the use of drinking water by using rainwater for irrigation and street cleaning.

AQUAVAL’s results support the application of Sustainable Urban Storm Water Management Plans, and water and urban policies developed for both municipalities. In the medium to long term this will decrease the number of overflows, and the contamination that they cause to the rivers. As proved by the results obtained, linking private entities with public administrations in the diffusion of SUDS technologies and approach (e.g. as beneficiaries and co-financers) has been a very successful methodology, ensuring that rainwater is included in water resources and land use planning policies.

Importantly, the AQUAVAL project led to the SUDS approach being explicitly supported by regional policy, in particular, the regional flooding legislation PATRICOVA (November 2013). This legislation was accompanied by a report that presented the AQUAVAL project as a good example of SUDS in practice, with pictures of a green roof in Xativa and a permeable car park in Benaguasil. The regulation states that, in regards of storm water management: “The use of SUDS will be promoted in all municipalities within the Region of Valencia”.

AQUAVAL supports the implementation of EU water policy by addressing a wide range of issues, including river water quality enhancement, urban water management, groundwater recharge encouragement, and minimising energy consumption.

The project also helped to raise awareness, with some of the pilot SUDS sites chosen for their accessibility and educational value. Information panels were deployed to explain the benefits of the SUDS approach and site visits arranged. Information relating to the project is also accessible on the AQUAVAL website.

Further information on the project can be found in the project's layman report and After-LIFE Communication Plan (see "Read more" section).


Environmental issues addressed:


Water - Waste water treatment
Water - Water resources protection
Climate change Adaptation - Resilient communities
Risk management - Natural risks (Flood - Forest fire - Landslide)


climate change adaptation‚  soil surface sealing‚  drainage system‚  river‚  water saving‚  water quality improvement‚  waste water treatment‚  urban area‚  rain water‚  flood protection

Target EU Legislation

  • Water
  • Directive 91/271 - Urban waste water treatment (21.05.1991)
  • Directive 2000/60 - Framework for Community action in the field of water policy (23.10.2000)

Natura 2000 sites

Not applicable



Coordinator Ayuntamiento de Xàtiva
Type of organisation Local authority
Description The Ayuntamiento de Xàtiva, (city of Xativa in the province of Valencia), has an impressive record of implementing water and other environmental actions aimed at improving the environment. Notably, in 2000 under the Local Agenda 21 action plan (promoting the sustainable development of a municipality) it established the ‘Xativa Letter’ which promotes environmental auditing prior to the implementation of local action plans.
Partners Ayuntamiento de Benaguasil, Spain University of Abertay, United Kingdom Fundación Comunidad Valenciana Región Europea, Belgium Perales Momparler Enginyeria S.L., Spain


Project reference LIFE08 ENV/E/000099
Duration 01-JAN-2010 to 30-SEP -2013
Total budget 1,228,618.00 €
EU contribution 499,458.00 €
Project location Comunidad Valenciana(España)


Read more:

Leaflet Factsheet (2.3 MB)
Leaflet Ficha técnica (2.3 MB)
Project web site Project's website
Publication: After-LIFE Communication Plan Plan de Comunicación After LIFE
Publication: Layman report Layman report (Spanish version)


Project description   Environmental issues   Beneficiaries   Administrative data   Read more   Print   PDF version