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Francisco Javier Sánchez

Resilience as a key tool for reducing flood damage

Directorate General for Water of the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, Food and Environment

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Francisco Javier Sánchez. Directorate General for Water of the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, Food and Environment

Year after year, we prove to ourselves yet again how, both in Spain and in the rest of Europe, floods are the natural phenomenon that causes the more material and human damage. In the last decade in Spain, about 10 people die each year due to flooding and it is estimated that every year on average, the total material damage they cause is around 800 million Euros.

The various administrations have been working continuously to reduce these damage. For example, the number of flood victims has declined dramatically in recent years, with the result that today these ten regrettable annual human-induced losses of human lives are spread out over the course of events, normally associated with vehicle accidents.

Since the adoption of the European Flood Risk Management Directive (November 2007), the European Commission has established a common framework for all Member States, sharing experiences and establishing timetables for generating a new coordinated impulse for the reduction of damage caused by floods.

In a first phase, in December 2011 (and to be reviewed before December 2018), the sections of the river and coasts with the highest risk of flooding, known as Areas with Potential Significant Flood Risk (APSFR), were selected in an analysis process coordinated with civil protection authorities called "preliminary flood risk assessment".

Subsequently, flood and danger maps were drawn up in December 2013, describing in detail the floodplains in each area and the affected population, economic conditions, and so on, which can already be consulted in the National System of Floodplain Cartography.

These hazard and risk maps, in accordance with Royal Decree 903/2010, are complemented by the determination of the hydraulic public domain and its patrol zone (green tones), the preferential flow zone (grey) and the zone (T = 500 years in yellow) defined in the Water Law and the Regulation of the Public Hydraulic Domain.

With the preparation of these maps, PHDs, preferential flow zone, flood zones and hazard and risk maps, valuable information is available on the fluvial space of the area, which allows a correct ordering of these areas and characterizes the natural hazards which it is exposed to.

These maps are not only used for the management of flood risks in the future, but also are already a daily reality in the Basin Organisations for the daily management of the public water domain and the areas of patrol and preferential flow, being used daily to process different authorizations in these areas.

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