The Duero river basin

The Duero river basin is the largest in the Iberian Peninsula, with a total surface of 97.290 km2 out of which 78.954 km2 are found within Spanish territory (this represents 15,6% of the total surface), the rest of it belonging to Portugal. The main part of the basin is found within the autonomous region of Castilla y Leon and, to a lesser extend, it also encloses territories belonging to Galicia, Cantabria, La Rioja, Castilla la Mancha, Extremadura and Madrid.

Duero river basin

Duero river basin location within the Iberian Peninsula

From a geological point of view, the hydrographic basin of the Duero consists of a well-defined geological unit, the Duero depression and its borders. It practically comprises the Northern sub plateau and the limits with its neighboring structural units, i.e. Cordillera Cantábrica, Ibérica, Central and Montes Galaicos-Leoneses.

The climate is Mediterranean, remarkably continental owing to orographic isolation. It becomes slightly milder towards the border with Portugal due to the influence of the Atlantic Ocean. The average annual rainfall varies considerably, from values in the range of 400 mm/year in the central depression to 1800 mm/year in the surrounding mountain areas and 1.000 mm/year in the Cordillera Central and Ibérica. Rainfall is irregular, falling mainly from autumn to spring, but with hardly any during the months of July and August.

It has a population of 2.2 million, mainly located in the most important cities. There are numerous villages with less than 1,000 inhabitants and hardly any town reaches 50,000 inhabitants. 50% of the population is located in the capitals of the provinces.

According to Article 5 of the WFD, a total of 359 surface water bodies and 31 ground water bodies are identified in the hydrographic basin of the Duero. Within the surface water bodies, 297 are found to be rivers, 6 are lakes, 6 are artificial water bodies and 50 are highly modified water bodies.

Regarding surface water bodies, 12 of them risk not achieving the environmental goals established by the Directive 2000/60/CE, 292 are awaiting survey and 49 are not at risk. Regarding ground water bodies, 3 of them risk
not achieving the environmental objectives established by the Directive mentioned above.

Water resources and uses

The natural average discharge of the Spanish basin is 13.558 hm3/year, including surface and ground water resources. The most important water use is irrigation, with over 3.603 hm3/year. Irrigated areas make up about 6% of the basin surface, and amount to 93% of the total water usage. Urban supply uses 214 hm3/year and industrial 43 hm3/year. Nearly 10% of those consumptive demands are supplied with groundwater. Furthermore, the Duero Basin Hydrological Plan assigns approximately 745 hm3/year downstream to the main reservoirs for environmental objectives.

Aldeadavila dam

Aldeadavila dam (Duero river)


Welcome to the new WaterGIS site

Welcome to the new WaterGIS site. This is a place where I will be posting all those topics related to the world of Geographical Information Systems (GIS) with a special emphasis on its application to the field of water resources management.