Removing dams in the Deba River, Spain

Dam removal in the Deba River
Area characterisation: 

The Deba river basin (area: 534km2) in the Basque Country (Spain) contains urban, peri-urban as well as agricultural areas and is home to around 135000 residents.


The hydro-geomorphology of the Deba River basin in the Basque country will be restored, mainly through dam demolition, restoring river morphology, connectivity and faunal permeability. Stakeholder interaction is being promoted, connecting local communities, institutions and governments. A main objective is to promote environmental education and the conceptualisation of nature-based solutions oriented restoration policies.

This case study is one of 17 that are part of the EU Horizon2020 project MERLIN - Mainstreaming Ecological Restoration of freshwater-related ecosystems in a Landscape context: INnovation, upscaling and transformation

  • demolition of 10 dams across the whole basin
  • involvement of stakeholders from tourism and eduaction as well as local entities and communities
Potential impacts/benefits: 
  • fish permeability and sediment flow
  • biodiversity enhancement
  • recreation potential
  • decreased risk of flooding
  • environmental education
NbS benefits 
  • Reduce flood risk
  • Restoring ecosystems and their functions
  • Improve connectivity and functionality of green and blue infrastructures
  • Increase Biodiversity
  • Increase quality and quantity of green and blue infrastructures
  • Increased cultural richness and biodiversity
  • Increase awareness of NBS solution & their effectiveness and co benefits
  • Increase stakeholder awareness & knowledge about NBS
  • Social learning about location & importance of NBS

Further information

Sustainable Development Goals 
  • 6. Clean Water and Sanitation
  • 14. Life Below Water