The municipality of Riba-Roja de Túria, adjacent to the natural park ‘Parque Natural del Túria’ in Valencia, is subject to the growing risk of forest fires. This hazard, exacerbated by the effects of climate change, agriculture abandonment, and insufficient forestry management, not only causes direct harm to natural resources and citizens, but it can also deteriorate city infrastructure, air quality, and increase soil erosion. Only between 2000-2016, the municipality suffered 40 forest fires, which are becoming increasingly destructive due to the rapid urban development in the area. Along with this risk, climate change is increasingly affecting the availability of water resources, which are vital in the prevention and mitigation of forest fires.
To address this double threat, Riba-Roja de Túria has partnered with the neighbouring municipality of Paterna and research organisations to launch the project GUARDIAN: by implementing green urban actions, the project builds the Spanish municipalities’ resilience to prevent and reduce the risk of forest fires.
The fire resilience strategy is based on the use of recycled water to prevent and protect against fires, providing preventive irrigation and fire suppression systems. To carry out this strategy, the project is building hydraulic infrastructure to supply recycled water from the city wastewater treatment plant to the wildland-urban interface of the area. The recycled water, through the installation of high-pressure cannons and sprinkler towers, will be used to restore the national park and maintain the necessary green barriers to prevent forest fires.
Riba-Roja de Túria has also worked towards the elimination of contaminants thanks to a water treatment system that removes chlorpyrifos, a common pesticide, and guarantees the safe use of recycled water in the natural park. Inhabitants in the area closer to the park are trained on fire prevention and classes on climate change, covering also the issue of water scarcity are offered at the local school.