LIFE URBASO aims to demonstrate that careful planning and adequate forest management of the up-slope areas of drinking water abstraction points is a requirement for maintaining raw water yield of high quality reducing sediment load, THMs and PTAs under the uncertainty of climate change.

To this end, URBASO will demonstrate this methodology in the Reserve of Biosphere of Urdaibai where 39 abstraction points are located in forested areas and 13 of them are in pine and eucalypt plantations.

.The water extracted from the Reserve presents the following baseline (2008-2018, EKUIS):

– NOM concentration measured as Dissolved Organic Carbon DOC = 3,83 mg L-1. No regulatory limit (directly linked with the generation of THMs).

– THM concentration = 46 μg L-1 ; But 10% of the analyses above the regulatory limit (Max concentration = 191 μg L-1) . Regulatory limit = 100 μg·L−1 (Spain)

– PTA: No regulation related in drinking water = No data. However, there is a need for policy that can increase the level of awareness of the possible risks of PTA.

– Turbidity = 23% of water samples above 1 NTU (Drinking water). Regulatory limit = < 1 NTU

– Suspended Sediments = 32-203 mg L-1 (average)

In this context, LIFE URBASO will demonstrate a novel methodology to improve the quantity and quality of raw water through land use management using nature-based solutions. The main objective is to develop the concept of “protected areas for abstraction points of water for human consumption” under Article 6 of EU WFD.


URBASO consortium will work to reach the following operational objectives:

– Develop a technical guide with a catchment delineation and characterization system to delimit the zone of intervention and operational forest management guidelines to protect water

– Implement the guidelines in the Reserve and demonstrate that these are useful to improve the raw water quality, reducing the amount of DOC (10%) and sediment load (25%) and consequently the use of disinfection products and the amount of THMs.

– Demonstrate that changes in land use provide a continuous and sufficient quantity (15% increase) of water for human consumption

– Demonstrate that bracken fern control reduces the amount of PTA in drinking water.

– Calculate the positive economic incentives for ecosystem service providers (forest owners) that could apply for a payment.

– Develop a contractual tool that might be used between forest owners, water suppliers and the Reserve of Biosphere for payments for ecosystem services.