Hydraulic Heritage is defined as a set of material, intangible and symbolic elements that make connections between the work of man and nature.
Old cartography is considered a relatively trustworthy information database that describes how a territory was constituted at a given time and reveals aspects related to both man and nature.
This research project was developed in the Community of Madrid using old maps elaborated by the National Geographic Institute of Spain between 1870 and 1950. It has been shown that the use of this cartography as an information database resource is adequate for the creation of a Hydraulic Heritage Inventory of the Community of Madrid. Cartometric quality analysis has been carried out to determine the adequacy of these old maps for the analyzed area, getting values of specific positional and thematic accuracy.
Hydraulic Heritage also shows how different communities have made use of water resources in a specific territory. The present research has confirmed that there exists a large quantity and variety of Hydraulic Heritage elements distributed throughout the region. This fact is demonstrated by the spatial and thematic database developed from the Hydraulic Heritage of the Community of Madrid. These elements are found in very different states of conservation, although they are located mainly in traditional irrigation areas (fertile plains of the most important rivers in the region) and in the major metropolitan areas where there was the largest demographic concentration.
In addition, this research has verified the fragility and the high degree of threats to these types of heritage assets, since more than 65% of all heritage elements identified in the olds maps have disappeared. This historical evolution is even more alarming in urban areas, where the process of city expansion has led to the disappearance of more than 70% of historical hydraulic elements. It has been proven that those assets that are still functional, whether original or different, are in a better state of conservation than those that have become useless.
The inventory and the different analyses carried out generated an initial diagnosis of the Hydraulic Heritage in the Community of Madrid. This inventory can be considered a useful tool for public managers and administrators responsible for the heritage set.
This work is included in the doctoral thesis of Alberto Blanco González, defended on January 20, 2017 at the University of Alcalá, within the framework of the PhD Program in Hydrology and Water Resources Management. This thesis was directed by Dr. Irene de Bustamante Gutiérrez and Dr. Juan Antonio Pascual Aguilar.