Know more about our river: The Ripoll River!

Know more about our river: The Ripoll River!

Know more about the river, its recovery and its treatment systems

History of the River

The Ripoll River originates in the Granera Sierra, 640 metres above the sea level, discharging its water in the Besós River along 40 kilometres of its journey crossing over the municipalities of Castellar del Vallès, Sabadell, Barberà del Vallès, Ripollet and Reixac. All of these municipalities are located in the Vallés Occidental region.

The Ripoll River is embedded in a landscape of slopes and alluvial terraces, with tributary fluvial courses, such as the Tuerto river or the torrents of Colobrers i Ribatallada. As many of the Mediterranean Rivers, it characterises by its low flow, irregular force and having infrequent but important swells like the one of September 1962, which cause flooding. Its location close to the city bestows the singularity of being the point of contact between the urban and rural space.


Ripoll panoramic view

The Ripoll River is an exceptional testimony in the history of the city of Sabadell. Since Medieval times, the river constitutes a place for production – firstly, in the installation of flour mills that subsequently were replaced by paper and textiles companies and finally of steam production.

In the 1950s, the Ripoll river entered in a degradation process due to the urban and industrial growth, which caused the detachment of the citizens with the river. Since the second half of the 1990s, this process has been reversed due to the development and implementation of an integral recovery plan of the Ripoll river, led by the Sabadell Municipality. Nowadays, it can be said that the Ripoll experiences a good health and that Sabadell has rediscovered its river and the richness of its landscape.


The Mornau Mill, private property, is one of the best examples of pre-industrial buildings in Catalonia, due to both its dimensions as well as its conservation estate



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Recovery of the river

The integral recovery project originated from the goal of enhancing the recovery and designing a future where the social and economic use of the river is compatible with its natural and environmental value. Similarly, the improvement of Ripoll’s water quality includes a sanitation system as well as the water reuse. In terms of the river bed, the margins have been improved and reinforced with the objective of guaranteeing the protection against potential swells. Particular “estada” zones have also been created and the orchard has been reordered by a regulation of use.


Analysis of the water in the river

Ripoll River surroundigs reforestation

Next, the main principles of the integral recovery plan of the Ripoll River fluvial park are shown.


The sewage treatment plant in the Ripoll river, launched in 2002, allows the return of cleaner water into the river.

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Wet zone: Tertiary treatment

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The Ripoll river has a wet zone prearranged to take advantage of the opportunities that aquatic plants bring us. Besides their ecological and landscape characteristics, these plants contribute to improve the quality of the water deriving from the sewage treatment plant of Can Roqueta. Some of these aquatic species are: the cañizo (Phragmites sp) and the Boga (Typha sp), and other with lower density are the Junco (Juncus sp), the Carex (Carex sp) and the yellow Iris (Iris peudacorus). The roots of these species act as a natural depuration filter. The maximum amount of treated water is 970m3/day, which is supplied to the river to contribute to the improvement of both surface and ground water. The surface occupied by this treatment is 17,000 m2.

Tertiary treatment in the Ripoll River


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Water and wildlife in the river

Water, vegetation and wildlife are one of the most visible indicators to value the progress in the recuperation process of the Ripoll fluvial park. In this sense, there has been conducted several specific actions to recover the riverbank forest, increase biodiversity and the natural heritage. The recovery of the Ripoll River has made possible the reappearance of different species of nesting birds, such as the duck, the common grebe or the moorhens. It has also been possible to observe other species such as the Martin Pescador, the Gray Heron, the Little Egrets and the Cattle Egret as well as the sea crows in winter. The improvement of the water quality has also made possible the progressive increase of biological diversity. Besides bird species, we can also find some fish species, such as bars, barbels, carps, gambusinos and black perch.

Fishing regulations

Wildlife that you can find...

Let's help wildlife!

Wildlife passage through the Font mill

Through history, human activity in rivers has been the cause of transformations and modifications towards the use of water resources for different applications.

Obtaining water from rivers has usually led to the construction of diverse transverse structures, dams and recluses, which act as a barrier and hinder fluvial connectivity. Hence, isolated population nuclei are created, which hinder biodiversity in the basins.

The solution to the fluvial discontinuity of the course of the river is the creation of wildlife passages that allow both the flow of fish as well as of small vertebrates.

The design of the wildlife passage of fauna consists of a channel with a system of successive bases that facilitate the flow of fish and allows the water to slow down. Then, fish can rest and thus overcome the next level until they overcome the entire obstacle. The common name of "fish ladder" comes from the stepped form of the rafts.

This structure is complemented by vegetation slopes to facilitate the passage of other existing wildlife in the river. The aim is to ensure the biological connectivity between the different sections of the river and allow the improvement of biodiversity.

If you like our river and you would like to propose any measure or action to help its conservation, please do not hesitate on posting a comment or a tip, or upload your photographs.

Besides, please also let us know if you know other similar regions or areas dedicated to nature!


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    As the Ripoll river, many rivers in Europe are suffering the same kind of problems (biodiversity losses, contamination, lower water quality, etc.) due to urban and industrial development. Nature-base...

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