Practice Details

Title of Practice: Sustainable urban rain water management
Year: 2004
BPTag: Good Practice
Reference Number: ESP288
City / Town / Village: MADRID
Region: Europe & Former Soviet Union States
Country: Spain
Has this practice been submitted previously? No
Previous Title:
Address: Street address: C/ Gomeznarro (entre C/ Gomeznarro y Ctra. de Canillas)
Postal Code: 28043
City/Town: MADRID
State/ Province: MADRID
Country: SPAIN
Name of Contact Person: Ayuntamiento de Madrid. Junta Municipal Hortaleza. Javier del Palacio
Email of Contact Person:

First of all, this initiative aims at avoiding erosion processes and rainwater pollution due to urban run-off. It also reduces entry of rainwater in the sewage system with the consequent decrease in polluting agents, saturation and further discharge to the natural environment, highly contaminated. Furthermore, it enables the collection, managing and retention of rainwater in order to avoid any kind of damage or pollution in addition to the removal of possible existing pollution (bio-remedying) and a latter use –economically attractive and efficient- in the maintenance of green areas, groundwater table refill or return to natural environment, free of pollution.

Significantly, it enhances the urban landscape, passable (pedestrian and vehicles) and sustainable, thus pervious (filtering), apt for animal and vegetable life, and decreases the temperature and deterioration of urban atmospheric quality. Parallel to the increase of green surfaces in the city, the appearance of new water supplies with a high quality standard enable effective maintenance.

On an other hand, the reduction of the hydraulic volume ending into the sewage systems enables a decrease of costs in infrastructure systems in terms of transport and depuration, improving its functionability.

Finally, it implies less wastage and more efficient water-using appliances, re-use and recycling of wastewater, stormwater and avoidance of use, i.e. urban water cycle and integrated urban water resources management.

Key Dates: January 2003: Starting date of works March 2003: Ending date May 2003: Official opening
Norminating Organization Details
Name of Organization: Spanish Habitat Committee. Work Group of Best Practices
Contact Person: Dª Gema Rodríguez López
Type of Organization:

Name of OrganizationAddressContact PersonOrganisation TypeType of Support
Ayuntamiento de Madrid. Junta Municipal de HortalezaStreet address: Ctra. de Canillas, nº 2
Postal Code: 28043
City/Town: Madrid
State/ Province: Madrid
Country: SPAIN
Telephone: 91 588 76 43
Fax: 91 588 76 49
E-mail: palaciofj@munimadrid.es
Javier del Palacio Fernandez-MontesLocal AuthorityFinancial Support, Technical Support, Administrative Support
ATLANTIS MARKETING EURO S.L.Street address:C/ Condado De Treviño 25 3º A
Postal Code:28033
City/Town: Madrid
State/ Province:Madrid
Country: Spain
Telephone: 00 34 91 3029408
Fax: 00 34 91 3830775
E-mail: solumedmadrid@facilnet.es pedrolasa@atlantiscorp.com.au
Web Site www.atlantiscorp.com.au
Pedro Lasa GallurraldeTechnical Experts/ConsultantsOther
EULEN MEDIOAMBIENTEStreet address: C/ Lezama 4
Postal Code: 28034
City/Town: Madrid
State/ Province: Madrid
Country: Spain
Telephone: 00 34 91 6310883
Fax: 00 34 91 6310890
Ms. Mª Luz MuñozPrivate SectorOther

Environmental Management
Infrastructure, Communication, Transportation
Production and Consumption Patterns



City park located in a working class district, mainly modest livings

A park with deep longitudinal and transversal slopes presenting an important landscape damage caused by erosion processes and urban run-off

Housings annexed to the park presenting humidity problems and occasional floods during rain periods


  • Reduction/Elimination of existing run-offs (Junta Municipal + Atlantis)
  • Elimination of dampness in neighboring buildings (Junta Municipal)
  • Increase of urban green areas (Junta Municipal + Atlantis)
  • Increase and improvement of the paths within the park without incrementing the sealing, imperviousness and lifelessness of the park (Junta Municipal)
  • Improvement of the aesthetic aspect of the park (Junta Municipal)
  • Increase of the rainwater retention capacity (Junta Municipal + Atlantis)
  • Reduction of water demand for the maintenance of the park



  • Landscape regeneration
  • Elimination/Reduction of run-off processes
  • Reduction of stormwater and sewage discharges
  • Reduction of the volume of contaminated water in rain periods
  • Demonstration of the efficiency of new water sensitive materials and techniques and rainwater management, therefore restoring the natural water cycle in urban development.


  • Re-vegetation and regeneration of eroded areas
  • Implantation of highly pervious pavements
  • Reinforcement and protection of natural ground in transit areas
  • Utilisation of paths for water collecting filters
  • On-site collection, treatment, re-use and/or land infiltrating structures

This system and concept represents an integrated treatment chain in urban building (roof gardens ), parking areas, paths and pedestrian areas, green and recreational areas, and may be combined with current conventional stormwater measures.


Town Hall investments in regeneration and improvement of the parks of Madrid

Technical support: Atlantis


At an operational level and due to the fact that the materials and techniques employed have not yet been presently normalised in any Spanish Municipality, certain difficulties overcame on defining, approving and carrying out the designs proposed by Atlantis. Once the final design was approved, instructions had to be necessarily given to the construction companies for a correct installation of the system. Having done this, the interest and involvement of the workers were absolute. The procedure in the development of the tasks was as follows:

  • Withdrawal of the impervious pavements
  • Regeneration of the eroded and compacted soil
  • Distribution and installation of underground infiltration tanks
  • Installation of collecting, transport and distribution system to the tanks located under the pavements
  • Installation of pervious pavements
  • Planting and vegetal regeneration

In spite of the outstanding results and due to the great ignorance regarding these techniques in our country, homologation of the system is yet to be achieved by the pertinent authorities.


One year after the re-opening of the park and a good number of inspections, especially during rain periods, we have noted the disappearance of run-off processes, flooding and previous erosion. Consequently, humidity problems in the neighbouring houses have also disappeared.

Landscape and environmental integration, standard of living: more healthy soil, larger green surfaces, purified air and a subsequent lower ambient temperature, especially in summer, have significantly improved, increasing the frequency and length of visits of the neighbours and, therefore, their cohabitation. A slight diminution of vandalism has also been observed.

Water cycle:                                                     

Park area:                                                                     10,000 m2

Madrid average rainfall/year:                                            500 lt/m2/year

Average park rainwater/year:                                           5,000,000 lt/year

Unpolluted rainwater:                                                      5,000,000 lt/year

Savings in transport:                                                       5,000,000 lt/year

Savings in water treatment:                                             5,000,000 lt/year

Groundwater recharge:                                       5,000,000 lt/year


Financial: The installation is either equivalent in terms of costs or reduces overall cost; nevertheless, its multifunctional use, lower costs in terms of conveyance and depuration, and its environmental benefits justify its application. Simultaneously, it acts positively on land, air, water and bio-diversity.

Environmental: This type of solutions preserve and restore naturally the standards of water (bio-remedying systems). They provide new “live” urban ground, and improve the efficiency in the use of water and land and the integration of the infrastructures (ecological footpaths, sewage and treatment) into the natural environment, providing also new water resources. In short, “they restore the natural urban water cycle”.

The system signifies a complete change in the criteria (tout à l’égout) and the technologies employed to this date, instead of removing and increasing pollution form (A) collector to B (purifying plant or rivers and streams). These new criteria aim at the achievement of “at source water management solutions for quantity and quality control”.

Hydraulic criteria adopted up to now are now longer tenable, i.e. centralised collection and all the remaining processes. By contrast, hydrological criteria signify on-site collection and treatment, a decentralised and ecological approach with a lower cost maintenance.

Water sensitive urban development is development that is carefully designed, constructed and maintained so as to eliminate the negative impact on the natural water cycle. It is part of the contemporary trend towards more “sustainable” solutions that protect the environment.



  • Simple and efficient installation
  • Easy installation
  • Low and uncomplicated maintenance
  • Easy adaptation to the existing infrastructure
  • High water quality, on-site consumption
  • Lower water demand in the maintenance of parks and gardens
  • Higher efficiency in land use
  • A more rational use of water, due to the existence of closed circuits for its recycling
  • Urban stormwater and waste water can be viewed as potentially useful resources rather than undesirable waste products
  • Multi-functionality: pathways become a collecting filter of rainwater.
  • Control of imperviousness and run-off processes
  • Larger green surfaces with a subsequent atmospheric improvement (quality and temperature)  


  • Ignorance and nation-wide scepticism
  • Resistance to innovation
  • Non-normalisation on behalf of authorities, implication of different departments (sewage, urbanism, construction, environment, civil works, etc.). Since integration is a key principle underlying sustainability, a particular challenge is to address interrelationships between environmental, social and economic issues, and to link policies and actions across a wide range of traditional disciplinary, sectorial and institutional boundaries.
  • Lack of references in Spain


Up to this date, no step as yet has been undertaken on behalf of the Town Hall of Madrid in terms of divulging the system, except for the presentation to this Award.

Atlantis has on its behalf shown the results of the actions undertaken in the park to a various number of engineers, architects and authorities. As a result of the interest shown, the system has been included in the development Project “Olympic Park, Madrid 2012” for the construction of an 80,000m2 ecological parking (PROINTEC Engineering).

In Gijon (located in the North of Spain), the construction of a 10,000m2 parking is to be constructed in a period of 2 or 3 months, on behalf of its municipality.

First Prize Award: Best Water Management in Urban and Construction Projects, organised by the Town Hall of Alcobendas (Madrid), LIFE Programme “Alcobendas, Ciudad del Agua para el siglo XXI”  


Instituto de Metaeconomía, España, “Aplicación para la depuración de sus aguas residuales y aprovechamiento de pluviales”

  • Renewable Energies Museum Project. Basque Country
  • Bioclimatic Building Project. Madrid (Edificio Trasluz)
  • “Aguas blancas” Development works.  Guadalajara
  • Development works Project. Barcelona
  • Remodelación antiguos cuarteles de Daoiz y Velarde (EMV) Madrid
  • Dpto. Saneamiento Ayto. Madrid (Sewage Dpt., Madrid): Proposals have been set forth to reduce water consumption in Madrid (parks and gardens)  by means of rainwater and re-use. 

·         Roads: We have been working in the past two years for the Spanish Government and provinces in the application of the system in roads in terms of water management; this would imply an outstanding improvement as regards to road environmental integration (bio-ditches, i.e. concrete drains on the road side) and road security (anti-overturning ditches). The Managing Director for Roads of Valencia has announced recently in the media the starting of a campaign for the leveling of ditches.


Desarrollo Inteligente (Boletin medioambiental de la Comunidad de Madrid y FIDA, Fundación Investigación y Desarrollo Ambiental)

Ignacio Ramos, 11/03/04

”Hacia un Diseño Urbano Sensible al Agua de Lluvia”

ACIMA Boletín de Actualidad Medioambiental

Pedro Lasa   5/02/04  

Propuesta de Comunicación II Congreso Internacional de Ingeniería Civil, Territorio y Medioambiente (Santiago de Compostela 22/09/04)

Alberto Valle, Universidad de Cantabria, Verónica Fernandez, Servicios Ambientales Integrales  

Infraestructuras Instalará Cunetas Antivuelco para reducir la peligrosidad de sus carreteras

LEVANTE  Digital 20/01/04

Palombera se convierte en una carretera ecológica

EL DIARIO Montañés, Cantabria, Maxi de la Peña, 18/12/03

Promueven Almacenar el Agua de lluvia para usarla en las ciudades.

Periódico “LA RAZON” Suplemento “a tu salud verde” 18/09/03 Maribel Casado

“Frío Verde para las ciudades”

“LA RAZON” Suplemento “a tu salud verde” 03/07/03 Antonio Barrero

Carta del Director del Servicio de agua y saneamiento del Ayto. de Madrid, 10/03/03, donde se nos solicita información y propuestas para incorporarlo a una nueva instrucción municipal.


RACE (Real Automovil Club España). Revista Autoclub. 11/11/03

Eco-Ingeniería aplicada en Elementos no Resistentes. ESTUDIO DE SUPRESION DE CUNETAS DE BORDE DE CALZADA. Autor: Modesto González (ICA Ingenieros) 3/10/2000

Jornadas sobre “Técnicas de Eco-Ingeniería para la Integración Paisajística y Ambiental de las Carreteras” Gobierno de Navarra, Asociación Técnica de la Carretera


“Arquitectura del Paisaje” nº 52   octubre 98.  Autor: Jesús de Vicente

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