Flooding mechanisms
a new ground for water management policies
master thesis
Bra_Driva_Ribot Gil

Fluvial territories seek to be understood across different scales, from the microscopic behaviour of a particle of sediment to the relation between upstream and downstream processes and the effects they could have one in another. The main objective of this project is to perceive the river as a “living” mechanism that through avulsion processes can create productive grounds for territorial, social and environmental formations. This can be generated along an ever changing system of water management, exploiting the potentials of flooding. The development pressure that is imposed to riparian landscapes due to their potential in agricultural productivity is directly reflected in the water management policies that rule each territory. Could a new water management policy be a territorial praxis that, by challenging the natural river dynamics, would create a resilient yet productive ground for social and morphological prosperity of the landscape? The project sets off from a European scale reflecting the centralised vision of water management and then focuses in the case of Spain in the riparian territories of Navarre, which are recently suffering from development pressure due to the industrialization and mechanization of agriculture. The productive and hydrological dynamics in terms of social formations of this particular territory are intersected with the specific geomorphological qualities that allow the formation of political entities, management units, driven from the generated avulsions. The importance of this arrangement is the actual shifting of power from a global to a local level. The aforementioned intersection and the eagerness of fabricating a productive dynamic landscape is followed by a set of interventions guidelines, with which we structure our proposal. The essence of time is a crucial parameter throughout the whole project as our interventions are placed by taking into account seasonal flooding events and the reaction of nature. Our proposal is an alternative towards a new approach on the landform. This approach is closely associated with the small scale labor approach, in an effort to invert the organisation of land from large agricultural crops to smaller ones with the formation of islands within the aforementioned management units. This manipulation of  the river is realised with a series of techniques associated with the utilisation and at the same time with the respect of the fluvial abilities. These compensation processes would result into controlling flooding and simultaneously create a more dynamic and effective ground for social ,economic and infrastructural management.  The actualisation of this management shapes the manufactured territories by revealing the spatial qualities that we create in order to explore scenarios of materialisation, that lead to different implications. This emerging approach could be further applied to other areas of Europe as well, with similar guidelines by disclosing the importance of the local and unique character of the current area.

The dynamic interactions in the transitions between water and land are studied under the flood pulse concept, which describes the movement, distribution and quality of water in river ecosystems.

This project reflects a multidisciplinary approach which covers a variety of tools such as research on the territorial and social formations and their  interactions with geomorphological processes, use of simulations as a tool of a better understanding of fluvial geomorphological processes, investigation of a series of techniques that contribute to the constructive parts of the project and design implementation of a possible scenario. All these issues were explored in various scales, commencing from the larger scale and moving to the smaller one, offering different ways of organising the territory as well as finding ways to unveil its spatial qualities. The most interesting part that creates a void for our praxis is that the politics of water management follow either a resource or an ecosystem approach without referring to productive landscapes, which can generate powerful economies. The creation of a set of guidelines that would respond to this new water management vision engaged with the notion of productivity is one of the main issues that addresses the Flooding Mechanisms: a new ground for water management policies project. The examination of the different scales led us to the realisation that small scale interventions give room for alternative ways of managing water, which could contribute to the construction  of more resilient and adaptable landscapes to ever growing extreme hydrological conditions. As a response to this situation, we could suggest that these local forms of resistance arise trying to claim for more grounded policies. These new policies would set the foundation for the emergence of a diversity of projects that would reframe the actual social, economic, productive and spatial by enclosing the notion that innovations or modifications of current situations are triggered mainly from local agencies.