Recovery of Rainwater and Hydrological Channels, and Development of the Río Atemajac Linear Park

Case Study: Urban Renovation of the Metropolitan Area of Guadalajara 

As a result of a global initiative with the objective of supporting the sustainable management of water in the cities of developing countries, promoted by the Germany Ministry for Foreign Affairs, a decision was made to collaborate with Diseño y Planeación S.C, now called De Silva Arquitectos. Because of their expertise in the field and their passion for the environment, Latin American Capital was invited by De Silva Arquitectos to participate in the process of research and planning of the project in Guadalajara, with the aim of decentralizing almost a third of the water in the city, recuperating the river basin, creating urban recreational spaces and improving the urban functions of the Colomos-Atemajac area.

A multifaceted and multidisciplinary group consisting of technicians, specialists, and both German and Mexican companies carried out the project. The main objective was to recuperate the hydrological basin of the Atemajac River, connecting it to the Santiago River in the Huentitán ravine, which has been severely damaged by the disorganized growth of the city, bringing with it a range of significant problems. This invasion of the natural channels and the lack of efficient water use has resulted in dangerous flooding in the immediate urban surroundings. Moreover, the discharge of sewage into the main channel, along with other serious pollutants that directly affect the population, led to the proliferation of pests such as mosquitos that transmit diseases like dengue, to outline some of the most critical consequences.

In order to solve the series of challenges that arose from poor urban development planning, the project would work in three phases that would result in the creation of a network of linear parks for the recovery of storm channels and in doing so decentralize almost a third of the city water. The objective of the first phase was to recover the hydrological basin of the Atemajac River, as well as the Ávila Camacho Park, to serve as a retention basin and botanical park with runoffs that would enable the water to be oxygenated. The most important course of this water runs alongside one of the busiest avenues in the city, and for this reason, the installation of a wastewater treatment plant in the subsoil was proposed, in order to eliminate the pollutants so that the river would produce clean water constantly. The second phase would involve increasing the area recovered from the hydrological corridor and its connection with the Santiago River in the Huentitán ravine. Finally, the third phase of the project would transform the Metropolitan Park through the recovery of an aquifer that is confluent with the Atemajac River.

  • The project will be known as the Parque Lineal Río Atemajac and will be focused on mapping water behavior, urban planning analysis, the management of institutional permits, and comprehensive financing.
  • The project sought to have a direct impact by decentralizing almost a third of the city’s water.
  • The system of parks would incorporate the project with the Colomos Forest, creating two new sections that are perfectly integrated into the urban ecosystem, as well as including pedestrian and cyclist circuits, and three pedestrian bridges that are connected to the forest areas located in the north of the city.
  • Another outcome of the project would be the creation of the Los Colomos Forest Protected Natural Area, which would entail a 75% expansion of the current zone and a 2-degree reduction in the average temperature of the area.
  • Wastewater treatment consists of a series of physical, chemical, and biological processes that eliminate pollutants present in the water; therefore, by installing a treatment plant in the subsoil, the river would continually produce clean water.

The main responsibility of LAC was to carry out institutional procedures that would allow each of the phases to be approved, in addition to prospecting for finances that would provide the necessary liquidity for each phase. This was achieved through a strategic mapping of the sources, based on a structure of co-responsibility that allowed effective coordination between the different levels and organizations with which consensus had to be reached since each had direct decision-making power over specific processes or areas of interest. Such a task represented a substantial degree of complexity since negotiations involved a range of departments from three different levels of government and supervisory committees of the residential areas involved, to private entities that managed commercial developments located in areas of crucial relevance to the project. 

On the other hand, LAC was dedicated to mapping more than 1,200 donors to drive the project. In order to finance part of the construction, LAC solicited the help of international organizations such as the Inter-American Development Bank (IADB), the World Bank (WB), and different philanthropic entities such as the Rockefeller Foundation, amongst others. As a result, complete funding was secured under lost repayment schemes for the various entities responsible for capitalizing the project.

If you need support evaluating, managing or planning a complex initiative with a multidisciplinary team, a LAC Special Projects investigation allows you to:

  • Use rigorous research methodologies and multidisciplinary analysis to gain an in-depth understanding of social and business phenomena. 
  • Manage contact with public and/or private organizations to promote the effective development of your initiative.
  • Determine the strategic points of your research for a much more successful decision-making process.
  • Carry out feasibility consultations, budgeting, and strategic planning to develop your project.
  • Find, contact, and formalize collaboration with key allies that can secure the value propositions of your initiative.

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