The floods are becoming one of the greatest catastrophes of our time and the solution is in our hands, let each of us contribute the grain of sand needed to change it.

Motilla del Palancar is a town located in the region of the Manchuela Conquense. Due to the meteorological and climatic conditions of this area, generally, there is scarce rainfall. However, in recent years, we have repeatedly witnessed the devastation caused by floods in this population, the last one happened just a couple of months ago. As a consequence, some homes and establishments were seriously affected by this problem, necessarily giving way to the action of emergency services, who had several days of hard work under the watchful stewardship of all the neighbours. Apart from the town of Motilla del Palancar, other affected populations such as Sisante, El Picazo and Villanueva de La Jara were also affected, all suffering, to a larger or smaller extent, the horrible consequences of the floods.

Among the affected were many people, children, young people, the elderly, mostly anonymous people, some business owners and others from private homes. There were many mishaps and misfortunes of different consideration; An old man lost his home in the town of El Picazo, a boy was dragged by the water currents on the promenade of the Riato of Motilla del Palancar while walking with his family, a lady fell into the mud while leaving her house to go shopping, being also impracticable for several weeks, the Carrascal park, the main town’s lung of Motilla del Palancar and place for practicing sports in general.

In addition to the personal misfortunes that normally this entails, the problem of floods affects public finances in a very important way, due to the high cost that must be assumed for the repair of all material damage caused by floods. Affected citizens also see their assets diminished, since several times, after floods they must face the repair of their homes and renovation of household appliances and other personal belongings.

From the study of everything that happened with respect to the floods, several causes are derived that tend to aggravate the problem: the first and main one is directly related to climate change, that is, global warming causes that meteorological phenomena, such as floods, are more numerous and violent. The second, and no less important, is related to the urban model, which has been developed in the affected localities for many years, building on or near river channels. On this aspect, it should be noted that, according to Carlos Villeta of environmentalists in action in Cuenca: "the hard measures: channels, dams and waterwheels... have proven to be ineffective and in many cases aggravate the problem downstream," so it should be invested more in studying possible solutions. Secondary causes have also been detected, such as the lack of cleanliness and maintenance of riverbeds near flood affected populations.

Many studies have been carried out to find solutions to the problem of floods. Obviously, the struggle to change people's lifestyles in order to reverse climate change is one of the most important, although this measure can only bring long-term results. Another measure to take into account is that related to the management of the territory near the rivers and its flood plain, respecting the margins and avoiding building in the flood areas. A clear example of this is the town of Motilla del Palancar, where in the words of M.A. Rubio, from Adimán: “part of the population is built occupying a natural drainage area of the Valdemenbra basin”. The short-term solutions are to build more efficiently, respecting the natural channels of water, for this, the awareness of citizens and authorities, both  municipal, regional and national, is essential. In this sense, we must bear in mind that hard measures: channels, dams and waterwheels... have proven to be ineffective and in many cases aggravate the problem downstream. Another measure to take into account and that can help alleviate the devastating effect of floods, is the periodic cleaning of river channels, which can add the awareness of people to not throw litter or waste to these same channels.

No matter how, nowadays, works are mainly undertaken and services are destined to alleviate the negative effects of the floods, once these have occurred, what means millionaire losses that affect both the public finances and individuals, not generally undertaken, works aimed at preventing or rather alleviating the adverse effects of floods.

Much must change the mentality of people to be able to solve, at least in the short term, the problem generated by large avenues of water, so that the solution provided by these reporters could be found in education, in order to raise awareness all of the importance of our actions and the severity of their consequences.

AUTORAS/ES: Jennifer Nicol Ríos Varga, Aitor Martínez Rubio y Alicia Alfaro Saez