Three Key Organizations: Bilbao Metrópoli 30, BILBAO Ría 2000, and the Bilbao Bizkaia Water Consortium

March 27, 2017

In order to better understand how the vision for the city is generated and executed, here we present three key organizations: Bilbao Metropoli-30, BILBAO Ría 2000, and the Bilbao Bizkaia Water Consortium.


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Bilbao, 2009. © Iker Gil.

Bilbao Metropoli-30

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Bilbao metropolitan araea. © Courtesy of NASA/GSFC/MITI/ERSDAC/JAROS, and U.S./Japan ASTER Science Team.

Bilbao Metropoli-30 was founded in 1991, a year before BILBAO Ría 2000, to generate activity in the areas of planning, research, and promotion. Through strategic planning, analysis of future scenarios, city marketing, and urban indicator systems, Bilbao Metropolis-30 focuses on the dynamic recovery of Metropolitan Bilbao. The association also encourages collaboration between public and private sectors, and develops entrepreneurial leadership, civil association, and innovation in business management. Here is a description of the origins, goals, structure of the organization, and the strategic plans for the city.

Origins and Mission

Bilbao Metropoli-30 was established in May of 1991 to carry out planning, research, and promotion of projects, headed towards the recuperation and revitalization of the metropolitan Bilbao, defined as a social and economic reality without precise geographical limits and whose existence has been projected throughout its regional and international environment.

Principally, Bilbao Metropoli-30 drives the implementation of the Strategic Plan for the Revitalization of the Metropolitan Bilbao. Secondly, Bilbao Metropoli-30 undertakes any type of actions derived from the strategic plan, and particularly, of those whose aim is the improvement of the external and internal image of Metropolitan Bilbao. The association, thirdly, carries out study and research projects related to Metropolitan Bilbao, as well as other metropolises that, due to their circumstances, can provide useful knowledge. Finally, the association fosters the cooperation between public sector and private sector with the aim of finding joint solutions to problems of mutual interest that affect Metropolitan Bilbao.

In June, 1992, the Basque Government recognized Bilbao Metropoli-30 as a public utility entity.


Public and private bodies, who exercise their profession or activities within the Metropolitan Bilbao, can become members of the project.

As founding members, Bilbao Metropoli-30 includes the Basque Government, regional Government of Bizkaia, Bilbao City Council, BBVA, Diario El Correo, Chamber of Commerce of Bilbao, Association of Basque Municipalities, Ibredrola, Bilbao Plaza Financiera, Kutxabank, Deusto University, Basque Country University, Petronor, Editorial Iparraguirre, Bilbao Port Authority, and Renfe. Besides the founding members, Bilbao Metrpoli-30 has ordinary members and protector members.

Board of Trustees, Board of Directors, and Internal structure

The board of trustees is the governing body of Bilbao Metropoli-30 and established its specific purposes and aims. The board of trustees is made up of twenty-five people, including the Chairman, José Antonio Garrido Martínez.

The board of directors, by delegation of the board of trustees, is the body of management of Bilbao Metropoli-30. This body is made up of seventeen people. Bilbao Metropoli-30’s internal structure is made up of eight people, including the director general and the team working at in the area of the revitalization plan, area of external relations, area of image and communication, and administration.

Revitalization Plan

Metropolitan Bilbao has no doubts about its role in Europe and the world. To maintain the leadership it has enjoyed throughout its history, Bilbao knows that it must work together with institutions and companies in planning the future of the city.

Following the drafting of the Revitalization Plan in 1992, Bilbao Metropoli-30 focused its activities on furthering the launch of the revitalization process through a public-private partnership.

In the 1990s, a new scenario emerged for Metropolitan Bilbao, with globalization, the transformation of social and economic structures, information and communications technologies, and the emergence of a multicultural society. In order to provide a suitable response to these challenges, in 1999 the association’s efforts were consolidated in the project “Bilbao 2010: Strategic Reflection,” presented on November 25, 1999.

Subsequently, on April 4, 2001, Bilbao Metropoli-30 presented the strategic plan called “Bilbao 2010: The Strategy” with a view to channeling the strategic reflection, its key areas and core aspects towards projects that will enable Bilbao to make the most of the change already undertaken, projecting the metropolis as an international world-class city in the knowledge society. On May 9, 2011, the association based its Strategic Reflection 2030 on professionals in its twentieth anniversary in a general assembly called “Metropolitan Bilbao 2030: The Age of Professionals.”

On May 9, 2016, Bilbao Metropoli-30 celebrated its first twenty-five years by introducing its 2035 Strategic Review for Metropolitan Bilbao. This strategic review ushers in the next two decades, a time Bilbao will spend developing its key variables and setting its new goals, as well as defining the indicators that will in time enable us to monitor the results. In the words of José Antonio Garrido, president of Bilbao Metropoli-30, “Today is the first day of the next twenty years.”

BILBAO Ría 2000

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Abandoibarra, Bilbao. © Courtesy of Ibon Areso.

In order to carry out the key projects of the urban transformation of Bilbao and its metropolitan area, a not-for profit entity called BILBAO Ría 2000 was founded in 1992. Since then, it has been able to tackle large-scale and complex projects with the close collaboration and involvement of multiple public institutions in order to recover former industrial areas. Here is a description of the origins, goals, structure of the organization, and their key interventions in the city.


BILBAO Ría 2000 is a publicly-owned company incorporated on November 19, 1992. It is owned in equal parts by the central State administration through the public companies SEPES (State-owned Land Management Company), the Bilbao Port Authority, and the rail company ADIF, and the Basque administration (Basque Government, Provincial Council of Bizkaia, and Bilbao and Barakaldo City Councils).

• 25% SEPES (State-owned Land Management Company)
• 15% ADIF
• 15% Basque Government
• 15% Provincial Council of Biscay
• 15% Bilbao City Council
• 10% Bilbao Port Authority
• 5% Barakaldo City Council

The active commitment of all the entities involved in BILBAO Ría 2000 has been a key feature from the outset and has allowed many key projects to be carried forward.


In 1987, the Bilbao Council drew up the first General Urban Plan identifying the considerable opportunities for development in a city with available space in areas such as Abandoibarra and Ametzola. In order to drive the development in these areas, where the authorities owned the land, the non-profit entity BILBAO Ría 2000 was created, owned equally by the Basque Administration and the State Administration. The company then took over other large projects in Barakaldo, Bilbao la Vieja, and rail infrastructures, among others.


Its mission is to recover degraded land or industrial areas in decline in the metropolitan area of Bilbao, thus contributing to a balanced development and the improvement of urban cohesion. To fulfill this objective, BILBAO Ría 2000 coordinates and executes projects related to town planning, transportation, and the environment. These are carried out with a global approach focusing on the urban directives drawn up by the planning authorities, and are supported by all shareholding administrations and companies. The active commitment of all the institutions involved in BILBAO Ría 2000 has been a key feature from the outset and has allowed the completion of multiple key projects in the urban transformation.


BILBAO Ría 2000 was created from an initial share capital of 1.8 million euros (300 million pesetas). Company shareholders, who are all public companies or institutions, transfer land belonging to them in central areas of Bilbao and Barakaldo, and each of the City Halls upgrade the zoning of the land. After that, BILBAO Ría 2000 invests in cleaning and urbanizing the land, tackling large-scale projects, and selling the resultant lots to finance its activities.

Since it is a non-profit entity, the capital gains obtained are invested in the regeneration of former industrial areas and in other major metropolitan projects, like rail infrastructures or the regeneration of other districts such as Bilbao La Vieja. BILBAO Ría 2000 also receives European Union subsidies, which in recent years have accounted for 9% of its investment budget.

Board of Directors and Internal Structure

BILBAO Ría 2000’s board of directors consists of twenty directors and top-level representatives or official authorities of each public company. The Chairman is the Mayor of Bilbao, Juan Mari Aburto Rique, and the Vice-Chairman is the Secretary of State for Planning and Infrastructures at the Ministry of Economic Promotion, Julio Gómez-Pomar.

BILBAO Ría 2000’s internal structure is made up of eleven people assisted by external experts to carry out surveys and projects, and to manage construction sites.


The company’s main areas of activity are Abandoibarra, Ametzola, Bilbao La Vieja, Barakaldo, and Basurto-San Mamés-Olabeaga. BILBAO Ría 2000 is also involved in restructuring the railway system and integrating the trains into the new urban framework. In this area, its main projects have been the Southern Bilbao rail routing, covering over the FEVE line in Basurto, and the construction of new Renfe and FEVE stations.

Alameda Mazarredo
Extension work on Parque Doña Casilda
Abandoibarra Avenue and Leizalo Street
Universities Avenue
Deusto Library
Zubiarte shopping center
Residential buildings
The stairway at Deusto Bridge
Sol Melia Hotel
The UPV University auditorium
Campa de los Ingleses Park
Riverbank park
The Pedro Arrupe
pedestrian bridge
Euskadi Square
Quay repair work
Iberdrola Tower

Ametzola-Irala lift
FEVE and Renfe Covering tracks
Ametzola Station
New streets
Ametzola Park
Pneumatic waste collection system
New dwellings

New business area
Avenida de Altos Hornos
The Lasesarre football field
Ore loading facility
Social services center
Covering of the Adif line
Portu Wharf
Ilgner building
INGURALDE building
Herriko Square
Dividing façades
New road infrastructures
New streets
New residential areas
Shopping and leisure facilities
Lasesarre Park
Riverbank park in Galindo
Fueros promenade
Promenades along the Ribera of the Galindo River
Desierto Square
Prometxea Square
Barakaldo sports complex
Pneumatic waste collection system


Basurto-San Mamés
Basurto’s Community Centre
Buildings in Miribilla
New slip roads to the A-8
Garellano Urban Renewal Plan
Works for burying the Adif railway line in Rekalde and Irala
Works for burying the FEVE railway line in Basurto

Bilbao La Vieja
Miribilla Public School
Landscaping work at the
Corazón de María Square
The Cantalojas Bridge
The old riverside quays

Rail Infrastructures
Ferrocarril Avenue
Abando Station
Ametzola Station
Autonomia Station
La Concordia Station
La Peña Station
Miribilla Station
San Mamés Station
Santurtzi Station
Zabalburu Station
The Southern Suburban Routing
Alterations to the FEVE railway line through Ametzola

Other Works
Street Art

Bilbao Bizkaia Water Consortium

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Nervión River, 1976. © Courtesy of Ibon Areso.

On March 17, 1967, nineteen municipalities in Biscay joined the now defunct Corporación Administrativa Gran Bilbao to set up and manage the primary water supply network and lead cleanup operations. A publicly owned company, it became known as the Bilbao Bizkaia Water Consortium and now comprises eighty municipalities with a total population of almost one million, approximately 91% of the population of Biscay and 48% of that of the Basque Country. The area of operations of the organization includes the most heavily urbanized and industrialized areas of the province of Biscay and operates with an annual budget of 185 million euros.

Nervión River

By the 1960s, the Nervión River was considered a navigable sewer due to domestic and industrial waste. The amount dumped in the river daily was staggering: 900 tons of solid waste mainly from mining, 400 tons of acid waste, 80 tons of metals, 20 tons of nitrogen compounds, and a ton of cyanide compound, among many types. In 1979, the level of oxygen in any area of the river at that point was 0%. The Bilbao Bizkaia Water Consortium undertook an effort to clean the Nervión-Ibaizabal River, becoming the biggest environmental project in the Basque Country and one of the biggest in Spain.

Comprehensive Sanitation Plan: 1979

• Recover the aquatic life of the river
• Recover the coast and beaches for recreational purposes.
• Create acceptable aesthetic conditions.

Operative Objective
• 60% of oxygen in water.

• Process domestic and industrial wastewater.
• Perform during dry and wet weather
• Serve everyone: general network, isolated areas, and individual sanitation

• Subsidies by public administrations
• Tax to the users

• Implementation of waste regulations
• Use, renovate, and update of the system

Comprehensive Sanitation Plan: Today

• 1 million people served
• Treatment of more than 30% of the volume of industrial waste
• Two main water treatment plants: Galindo and Lamiako

– 900,000 people served
– Average flow in dry weather: 3.5 cubic meters per second
– Peak flow in wet weather: 21 meters per second
– 300 tons a day of waste in dry weather that is dehydrated and incinerated
– 425 tons a day of waste in wet weather that is dehydrated and incinerated
– Volume of ash: 30 tons a day

• 29 medium and small water treatment plants
• 400 km (248 miles) of collectors and traps
• 100 water overflows
• 50 pumping stations
• 4 rain overflow chambers with a capacity of 125,000 cubic meters in total, with several in the works with a capacity of 120,000 m3
• Three crossings under the River

– Universidad – Museo
– Lamiako – La Benedicta
– Elorrieta – Zorroza

• Total investment: 1 billion euros

– 35 % Users through taxes
– 25% State Administration
– 23% Provincial Council of Biscay
– 17% Basque Government

• Implementation of project: 30 years.

It will be completed with the future construction of the Lamiako water treatment plant.

• Oxygen levels exceeds 60% in every area of the river
• 50 fish species
• Dozens of bird species
• The recovery of the river is a key aspect of the urban regeneration of Bilbao.

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Nervión River, 2006. © Courtesy of Ibon Areso.


1. Bilbao Metropoli-30

2. BILBAO Ría 2000

3. Lecture by Pedro Mª Barrerio Zubiri, Director of the Bilbao Bizkaia Water Consortium “El Plan Integral de Saneamiento y la recuperación urbanística de la Ría de Bilbao,” BIA Forum 2016, Julio 2016.–o.