skip to content

Logo of the Regional Government

You are in:

Water management


Drops, splashing, and whirlpool of water

The management of supply and treatment services correspond to the municipalities.

The municipal supply and treatment services must be in keeping with an integral management framework for the urban water cycle.

This cycle includes:

  • Supply: collecting, transport, treatment, storage and distribution
  • Treatment: supply into the drainage system, transport through sewers, treatment and later supply in conditions to be reused.

The Foral (Provincial) Council of Biscay takes part in the water management for two main reasons:

  • Collaborating in its administration and promoting and introducing the necessary investment, which is becoming more and more complex every day.
  • Guaranteeing the provision of the service in an efficient and effective manner in order to satisfy the citizen’s requirements.

Competences of the Provincial Council:

  • To coordinate the municipal services in order to ensure their integral and adequate provision throughout Biscay.
  • To approve and perform the work and hydraulic exploitations of interest for Biscay, provided that they do not affect any other Historic Territory of the Autonomous Basque Region.
  • Assist the municipalities in these works.
  • To guarantee that the supply and treatment services that the law sets as minimums are adequately provided.
  • To promote the execution of the infrastructure and the equipment necessary for the proper performance of the municipal competences.

Take part on the issue of municipal and supra-municipal delimitations provided that they do not exceed the limits of the Historic Territory.

Investment Policy:

The municipality is responsible for the service and its obligation includes the performance of the infrastructures.

The municipality must participate in the planning and execution of the same.

To deal with these future expectations, and to comply with the planned objectives, it is necessary there is a sufficient financial package, which at present the municipalities can not cover by themselves.

The Foral Council of Biscay has been supporting the execution of the supply and treatment work in order to guarantee the effectiveness of the municipal competences on this matter.

As the main hydraulic infrastructure projects are currently being carried out and as such the real costs of the said investment remain unknown, the estimated needs that is envisaged to undertake directly or indirectly by the Foral Council of Biscay in this term of office reach approximately 240 million euros.

Management Policy: homogenisation of the service, rate uniformity

  • The municipality is completely responsible for the service, with a single person in charge during all of the stages that complete the urban water cycle.
  • The management of the water services becomes more and more complicated and faces greater requirements:
    • A progressive demand for technical specialisation in the resource management.
    • A growing claim for guarantees in the quality of the service, not only from the user but also due to the need for greater control of the supply to the public sewers and tubes.
    • The growing dependence on resources outside of the municipal area.
  • At the same time:
    • A more rational and efficient distribution of assets, which leads to the interconnection of municipal networks and the regionalisation of the resources, guaranteeing water quantity and control for all citizens.
    • A decrease in the costs due to scale economy.
    • Uniform, fair prices
  • Consequently it is necessary to carry out the integrated management of the water to guarantee the quantity and quality of water for everyone in Biscay, a cheaper and more efficient operation that deals with a wider scope than the purely local, respecting the autonomy of the municipalities and the common objective of guaranteeing the quality of the service that Europe demands.
  • The Provincial Council supports the creation of associations and/or consortiums for a more rational and economic provision of the established services:

    "The Foral Council of Biscay shall deal as a priority, through all kinds of investment, grants and subventions, with the united and consorted provision of municipal work and services”. ("Foral Rule Regulating Supra-municipal Bodies”. )

Water Policies in accordance with European directives

The Environmental department’s water policy for the next four years (2004-2007) is in keeping with compliance of:

The Environmental department’s water policy for the next four years (2004-2007) is in keeping with compliance of:

  • The Water Framework Directive 2000/60/EC and
  • The Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive 1991/271/CE.

Europe considers that the supply of water is a general interest service.

The established legal framework has amongst its objectives:

  • The protection and improvement of the environmental quality of the continental water,
  • To prevent all additional deterioration of the aquatic ecosystems,
  • To promote the sustainable use of water,
  • To guarantee a sufficient supply of water taking into account the principle of recuperating the costs of the services related to water in accordance with the principle of he who contaminates must pay.
  • The mitigation of the effects of droughts and floods,
  • Restoration of the hydromorphological conditions.

It furthermore requires that all of the urban concentrations over 2,000 inhabitants carry out the proper treatment of the water, so that their drainage complies with the quality objectives required by the EU.

On the other hand, an awareness process has been started with the municipalities on compliance with the EU directives

  • On the management model
  • On the principle of recuperating the costs for water-related services, including the environmental costs and those relating to the resource and

To the principle of he who contaminates pays.


  • No life is possible without water. It is a valued asset, essential for all human activity.
  • The quality of the water must be preserved in accordance to the regulations adapted to the various uses, and in particular satisfy the health requirements.
  • An inventory has to be made of the composite resources.
  • Water is a common asset the value of which everyone must recognise. Each of us has the duty to use it carefully and not to waste it.
  • Fresh water resources are not infinite. They must be preserved, controlled and, if possible, increased.
  • When water is put back into nature after being used, it must not threaten its later public or private use.
  • The protection of the water involves a significant effort, both in terms of scientific research as well as the training of specialists and in providing .
  • The administration of the hydraulic resources should be classified within the framework of natural catchment areas within the administrative and political boundaries.
  • To change the quality of the water means prejudicing the life of man and the other living beings that depend on it.
  • Maintaining the suitable vegetation, preferably forests, is essential in order to conserve the composite resources.
  • To correctly administer water the authorities must draw up the appropriate hydrological plan.
  • Water has no frontiers: it is a resource common to all that requires international cooperation.

send via e-mail