Celebrating excellence in river restoration: Spain takes home the 2022 Dam Removal Award
In a ceremony at the UK Dam Removal Conference in Manchester on May 18, Dam Removal Europe presented the annual Dam Removal Awards. AEMS Rios con Vida emerged victorious, claiming the 2022 Dam Removal Award. The programme-supported removal of the Molino Bajo and Molino del Cabrillas weirs in the Cabrillas River clinched the title for Spain. This award acknowledges the remarkable efforts of dam removal practitioners, river users, communities, and authorities committed to restoring free-flowing rivers.
The selection process involved an initial pre-selection of the top five projects by an independent jury of international experts. Subsequently, a round of public votes occurred, with the opinions of the jury and the public carrying equal weight in a 50-50 ratio. Spain’s outstanding project received overwhelming support, making it the deserving winner.
César Rodríguez of AEMS-Ríos con Vida expressed gratitude, stating, “Thanks to the impetus that so many organizations from America to Europe are giving to the restoration of rivers, and now especially the Open Rivers Program as a financier of these actions in the Cabrillas River, AEMS-Ríos con Vida has been the first NGO to remove obsolete barriers in rivers in Spain.”
This accolade celebrates Spain’s achievement and highlights the collective commitment to preserving and restoring our precious river ecosystems across Europe.
Get to know the winning project: removal of the weirs of the Molino Bajo and Molino del Cabrillas in the Cabrillas River
The Cabrillas River, a major tributary of the Alto Tajo, is home to rich fauna and flora, boasting crystalline waters that support native brown trout. The river provides the local population with vital resources such as water, fishing, landscapes, and nature.
Before implementing the award-winning project, the Cabrillas River faced three known barriers, including two disused weirs, each approximately 3 meters high. These barriers created impassable reservoirs filled with retained gravel, significantly hindering fish migration.
Funded by the first call for aid from the Open Rivers Programme, this project restored connectivity over approximately 25 km of the river and 50 km within the fluvial basin, showcasing the tangible impact of dedicated conservation efforts.