Using old cartography for the inventory of a forgotten heritage: The hydraulic heritage of the Community of Madrid

Published On: February 20, 2019


This work has been published in the journal Science of The Total Environment

Hydraulic heritage is a legacy that has generally been forgotten in territorial management and protective actions. This heritage expresses the way in which inhabitants have used their water resources and related structures for centuries. For proper management, it is necessary to draw up an inventory. Using Geographical Information System (GIS) tools, we have created a spatial and thematic inventory of the hydraulic heritage located in the Community of Madrid.

This inventory shows the good conditions, both in abundance (more than 5800 point type entities) and diversity (28 categories in the point entities type layer), of historical hydraulic elements in the region. All the information in this work has been extracted from old maps (1870–1960). A database was designed to provide spatial, thematic and temporal information on this heritage

Hydraulic Heritage puntual entities spatial distribution in the Community of Madrid


Element distribution was concentrated mainly in the river plains and the metropolitan areas of the region, and it has been proven how hydraulic elements are endangered due to increasing urban pressure. This phenomenon and agricultural modernisation are the main factors influencing the survival of this type of assets. Thanks to this methodology, it should be possible to analyse the status of the heritage ensemble included in the inventory.

This work, which has been published in Science of The Total Environment, has been authored by Dr. Alberto Blanco, Dr. Irene de Bustamante and Dr. Juan Antonio Pascual researchers at the IMDEA Water Institute. The article presents a methodology that can be extrapolated to any part of the world that has old maps that represent heritage elements related to water (or any other heritage type).

You can read the article here..​​​

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