The renaturation of the Piles River – based on the current project designed by the City Council and approved by the National Hydrological Plan – is just one of six unique projects to be developed in the rivers of Gijón that the Cantabrian Hydrographic Confederation presented yesterday to the members of the Environment Sector Council of Gijón as a suggestion for future action in the city. This special package of actions also includes the renaturalization of the Pilón River (Tremañes stream) as it passes through Moreda Park, the restoration of the La Camocha mining dumps with the possibility of recovering the gallery forest and the location of facilities and sports trails, to act on landfills without using Arcelor industrial stocks to carry out sports and leisure circuits, to act on the Pinzales by creating trails and interpretive routes and generating a series of specific actions in the Botanical Garden, including the restoration of the banks of the Peñafrance.
These singular actions are included in the borrador de propuestas incorporated al “Diagnostico ambiental e hidromorfológico de los entornos fluviales en Gijón”, that the Confederación has carried out junto a técnicos de la firma Tragsatec in cumplimiento de uno de los acuerdos de su convenio de colaboración con the town hall. Same agreement where a new global work system was established between the two administrations to guarantee the conservation of the rivers.
“The best way to make decisions is to have knowledge, so there is less risk of being wrong,” said the President of the Confederation yesterday, Manuel Gutierrezduring the presentation of the study with the councilor for the environment of the town hall, Aurelio Martin. A study which, before proposing actions – both general and specific – draws an x-ray of the situation of local rivers from complex fieldwork including monitoring a drone flight 49 kilometers above rivers and lists all detected impacts.
Many of them related to the modification of the natural ways by drains, burials and the occupation of the margins which imposed the industrial and urban developments of the city. Problems of water contamination, absence of riparian vegetation – even in parts of the rural area – and a notable presence of invasive alien species were also detected. The study clearly indicates that Gijón has “a significant problem” in its rivers.
What should be done to resolve it? The generic proposal of the Confederation speaks of: reconditioning and revegetation of the margins favoring the functioning of the river environment as an ecosystem, elimination of invasive alien species, recovery of the drainage section in many sections with the substitution of stages that currently hinder the flow and they promote stagnation and flooding, the improvement of environmental conditions in some waterways and the removal of materials and sediments. All this recognizing as a starting point that it will be very difficult to act in stretches of rivers surrounded by infrastructure
These unique projects on the Pilón, Pinzales, Peñafrance rivers and the confluence of the Meredal and Robledo streams would add to this one-time impact correction package. And, in addition, the proposal to carry out a more in-depth study of the wetlands present in the Piles and other specific works to prevent the expansion of “fallopia japonica” (Japanese knotweed), an invasive plant that has become problematic in the rivers of Asturias and begins to be seen in Gijón
The study is available today on the Confederation’s website. And not just for your general knowledge. What is sought is to open the study to citizen participation so that new proposals can be incorporated and the final result has the greatest possible consensus. There is a month for this participation with the intention that at the end of November a document with more defined projects, costs and deadlines can be presented.
The preparation of this study for 150,000 euros took place in parallel with the first works carried out in Gijón by the Confederation on the basis of the agreement signed with the town hall in July, and which commits 1,520,000 euros over the next four years. In addition to the investment, the agreement allows the Confederation to intervene in the urban sections of the waterways which are under municipal jurisdiction. In fact, what the agreement establishes is that the Confederation will be in charge of the conservation works of all the rivers of Gijón in all its sections, and then the bill will go to the corresponding administration. It is a pioneering protocol in Asturias. For that year, there was a forecast of 380,000 euros of which 133,050 have already been spent, since the agreement will enter into force on August 1, and which is added to an additional 170,000 euros that the Confederation had already invested .
According to data provided yesterday by Manuel Gutiérrez, in early September, maintenance, conservation and improvement works began on the La Vega stream near La Camocha. At the same time, work is underway on the Pinzales and Aboño rivers in the vicinity of Somonte and Veriña, and the actions of the Santurio stream, between Santurio and Cefontes, and that of the Peñafrance stream, between Pedroco and the university campus, Has been completed.
Work has focused on removing dry trees, plant remains that clog riverbeds, and extracting accumulated sediment from the beds to reduce the risk of flooding.