The Llobregat River Basin: A Paradigm of Impaired Rivers Under Climate Change Threats

  • Rafael MarcéEmail author
  • Jordi Honey-Rosés
  • Andreu Manzano
  • Lucas Moragas
  • Bernardette Catllar
  • Sergi Sabater
Part of the The Handbook of Environmental Chemistry book series (HEC, volume 21)


The Llobregat River represents a paradigmatic example of an impaired river subject to emerging global change impacts. This chapter provides an introduction to the main geomorphological, geological, climatic, and biological features of the river basin, as well as an overview on the hydrological alterations and the intense management of water resources in the basin. The Llobregat hydrology has experienced a significant runoff reduction during the last decades. This decrease is related to climatic drift but also to the increasing forest land cover that has promoted a 25% reduction of the streamflow. The chapter also describes the human uses of the Llobregat River waters from a historical perspective, with particular emphasis on the difficulties that an intrinsically unpredictable river like Llobregat posed to the different human uses along history. The historical development makes emphasis on the industrial activities affecting water resources during the twentieth century. The chapter includes a detailed analysis of the present situation on water extractions, discharges, and diversions that define the Llobregat River Basin as a deeply impaired ecosystem, especially in the most downstream reaches.


Climate Geology History Land use change Water diversions Water flow trend Water treatment 



This research was funded by the Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation, projects SCARCE (Consolider-Ingenio 2010 program, CSD2009-00065), and CARBONET (CGL2011-30474-C02-01).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rafael Marcé
    • 1
    Email author
  • Jordi Honey-Rosés
    • 1
  • Andreu Manzano
    • 2
  • Lucas Moragas
    • 2
  • Bernardette Catllar
    • 2
  • Sergi Sabater
    • 1
    • 3
  1. 1.Catalan Institute for Water Research (ICRA)Scientific and Technological Park of the University of GironaGironaSpain
  2. 2.Catalan Water Agency (ACA)BarcelonaSpain
  3. 3.Faculty of Sciences, Institute of Aquatic EcologyUniversity of GironaGironaSpain

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