GUARDIAN is a pioneering model of sustainable and innovative management of the natural environment, which will ensure the safety of the citizens of Riba-Roja and contribute to the preservation of the Natural Park of Túria and La Vallesa.
The urban areas of Riba-Roja and Paterna, share the protected wildland zone “la Vallesa”, which is part of the Natural Park “Parc Natural del Túria”, located in a highly urbanised environment. The wildland-urban interface (WUI) between this park and these two cities is subject to the growing risk posed by forest fires, further impacted by the effects of climate change. This hazard is maximised by its progressive incorporation within the urban area and certain degradation, mainly due to agriculture abandonment and insufficient forestry management.
The project adopts a combined strategy based on the use of recycled water for fire mitigation and protection, providing preventive irrigation and extinction water spraying patterns automatically programmed. GUARDIAN will implement the hydraulic infrastructure to supply recycled water from the Waste Water Treatment Plant “Camp del Túria II” to the WUI area of “la Vallesa”, and the elements (irrigation and sprinkler towers) which make up the defensive barrier. The operation of the fire prevention and suppression infrastructure will be based on sensor networks and forecast services processed by an automatic system. In order to support this hydraulic infrastructure, GUARDIAN will also make use of an existing wetland (“la Vallesa” pond) as an emergency reservoir. The required water quality for the project’s goals will be ensured thanks to the implementation of an advanced modular water treatment implemented in the existing facility. Furthermore, GUARDIAN implementation actions will include vegetation treatment (i.e. reduction of tree density, pruning, shrub spacing, etc.) by which the ecologic conditions and the fire resilience of “la Vallesa” forest will be improved, and self-defense training for population in order to enhance risk perception, create awareness, communicate the basis of the project and improve self-protection through fire resilient gardening and household protection strategies.
The GUARDIAN consortium is led by the Riba-Roja City Council, acting as the main Urban Authority (UA) and has the Paterna City Council as Associated UA. Five more entities are included in the partnership: MEDI XXI, which is an environmental engineering company with expertise on fire risk mitigation and fire defence technological solutions; HIDRAQUA, the local water utility with long experience in the implementation of hydraulic infrastructures and water reuse; CETAQUA, a water technology centre providing R&D&I solutions to sustainable and efficient water cycle management; the Universitat Politècnica de Valencia (UPV) and the Universitat de València (UV), two public institutions of research and higher education in charge of designing the automated monitoring network of forest/weather conditions and validating the economic payback and efficiency of the project, respectively.
The present document is the third of a series of journals following the GUARDIAN project implementation process. It firstly presents the main achievements during the current reporting period (year 2021) and, following, it gathers a review of the potential challenges for implementation that the project is so far experiencing.