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Where have all the sediments gone? Reservoir silting and sedimentary justice in the lower Ebro River
Gorostiza, Santiago (Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona. Departament de Geografia)
Parrinello, Giacomo (Centre for History at Sciences Po)
Aguettaz-Vilchez, Daniel (Centre for History at Sciences Po)
Saurí i Pujol, David (Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona. Departament de Geografia)

Data: 2023
Resum: At the intersection of natural and social sciences, interest in river sedimentary fluxes and their alteration by human activities is increasing in the context of general retreat of delta formations. Since the 1950s, the construction of large dams in the main course of rivers has produced, among other impacts, a radical decrease in sedimentary fluxes - a key factor in the worldwide sedimentary crisis. While sediment accumulates in reservoirs, the resulting sediment scarcity downstream contributes to land subsidence and coastal erosion, endangering livelihoods in low lying areas such as river deltas. Focusing on the case of the Ebro River and delta (Spain), this article builds on Katherine Dawson's notion of sedimentary justice to examine the articulation of a social demand to mobilise the sediments trapped in reservoirs to counter delta subsidence and coastal erosion. Using a historical perspective and paying attention to matters of both sediment quantity and quality, we show how this demand has developed hand in hand with the emergence of a scientific interpretation of the Ebro delta's origins that emphasises non-human forces and the importance of sedimentary fluxes before human interferences. Activists have taken up this argument to demand the restoration of sedimentary fluxes, exposing corporate hydropower interests and insisting on the mobilisation of sediment trapped in reservoirs. Overall, by scrutinizing the power relations embedded in the immobilization of river sediments, this article contributes to recent work that integrates the materiality of sediment to the hydrosocial framework of analysis and argues that sedimentary justice provides new avenues to incorporate the non-human world to the literature on environmental and water justice. The authors gratefully acknowledge support from an Émergence(s) grant from the City of Paris for the project "Shifting Shores: An Environmental History of Morphological Changes in Mediterranean River Deltas in the Twentieth Century". Santiago Gorostiza's work was supported by the EU-Next Generation and Ministerio de Universidades de España (Maria Zambrano grant 2022).
Drets: Aquest document està subjecte a una llicència d'ús Creative Commons. Es permet la reproducció total o parcial, la distribució, i la comunicació pública de l'obra, sempre que no sigui amb finalitats comercials, i sempre que es reconegui l'autoria de l'obra original. No es permet la creació d'obres derivades. Creative Commons
Llengua: Anglès
Document: Article ; recerca ; Versió publicada
Publicat a: Political Geography, Vol. 107 (Nov 2023) , p. 102975, ISSN 0962-6298

DOI: 10.1016/j.polgeo.2023.102975

10 p, 1.1 MB

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