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Water quality

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Sources of discharges (A_10)

The water pollution hotspots at the port or ports by order of relevance5 are:

Sources of discharges Order
Rivers, streams, watercourses or ditches 1
Irrigation or rain runoff, not channelled or channelled but not treated 2
Spills when loading/unloading solid bulk 3
Dredging 4
Untreated urban wastewater N/A
Urban treated wastewater (WWTP) N/A
Industrial discharge from port concessions N/A
Works N/A
Cleaning and blasting hulls N/A
Poor practices in cleaning and maintenance of wharves and equipment N/A
Non reglementary discharges from vessels (bilges, etc.) N/A
Vessel refuelling and provisioning at wharf N/A
BUNKERING of anchored vessels N/A
Accidental spills when loading/unloading liquid bulk N/A
Other spills (indicate which) N/A

The main cause of the poorer water quality of the port are upstream discharges in rivers and streams, with the acid drainage from the mines considered as such. An inventory and characterisation of the different water discharge and pollution hotspots of the sport were carried out. The water quality was continuously characterised during the 2019 maintenance dredging campaig.

5 The order of relevance is allocated from 1 to 4, with 1 being the highest.  NA , when Not Applicable.


Measures adopted by the Huelva Port Authority to control discharges (A_11)

The measures implemented to improve and control the water quality at the Port of Huelva were:

  • Regular sediment and water quality characterisation campaigns
  • Mandatory rules and applying a penalty system
  • Best practices guides and voluntary codes of conduct.
  • Specific technical instructions to load/unload solid bulk.
  • Direct supervision on the wharves by Port Authority technicians.
  • Improvements to the sanitation network.
  • Setting up of areas for equipment cleaning and maintenance.
  • Improvements to managing runoff (collecting, channelling, prefilter wells, storm tanks, etc.).
  • Specific environmental requirements regarding wastewater and runoff management when awarding concessions
  • Environmental requirements regarding equipment maintenance and cleaning in service specification and award terms and conditions. Best practices agreements.
  • Approval of Interior Maritime Plans (IMP) as emergency response to marine pollution.
  • Better own resources for controlling accidental marine pollution.

All the binding environmental authorisations are reviewed during the audits for the environmental best practices subsidies. Furthermore, the Environmental Police plays an important role in controlling all those requirements.

Since 2019, Huelva Port Authority has continued to work on a project to renew and improve the sewage network on the Ingeniero Juan Gonzalo Wharf, which in turn will lead to improvements to its paved surface. This will help to optimise cleaning and minimise dust emissions as the result of machinery and lorry traffic.

The approximate total budget to implement the project is €28 million with an estimated 3-year period to execute the works.

Oblique aerial view of the docks concerned, with the southern extension to Ing. J. Gonzalo Dock in the foreground.


Characterisation of water quality (A_12)

Water quality in the service area was monitored in 20196 in connection with dredging work.

The type of parameters measured in these characterisation campaigns are: dissolved oxygen, pH, redox potential, conductivity, temperature, salinity, turbidity, solids in suspension, total nitrogen, phosphates, oxidisable organic carbon and metals (mercury, cadmium, lead, copper, zinc, chromium, nickel and arsenic).

Port dredging works

6 With regard to the EIS Ruling of 22 January 2018, of the General Directorate of Quality and Environmental Assessment and the Natural Environment


Sanitation system and treatment of wastewater (A_13)

Huelva Port’s service zone has a large industrial area with its own sanitation system. There is an extensive sanitation network which collects wastewater and conveys it to the municipal wastewater treatment plant for processing.

The main area percentages of the sanitation network with respect to the on-land service area allocated for port usage are shown in the table below:

Type of treatment % surface area7
Percentage of the service area with sanitation system 98.50%
Percentage of the on-land service area with sanitation system connected to the wastewater treatment plant 98.50%
Percentage of the on-land area discharging into septic tanks 0.01%

7Those percentages refer to the service area of the port with facilities and where port operations are performed or may be performed. The surface area of the service area that is saltmarsh and with no facilities has not been included in that calculation.


Treatment of rainwater (A_14)

The table below shows collection of rainwater:

Type of system % surface area8
Percentage of land surface area with a rainwater collection system 93.5%
Percentage of service area with a rainwater collection and treatment system 80%

The storm tank to collect rainwater on the Ingeniero Juan Gonzalo Wharf is currently underway.

It should be pointed out that these percentages refer to the service area in which activities are carried out or may be carried out. They exclude the portion of the service area taken up by marshland, with no facilities.


Schematic description of the technical means used to clean the water surface, and weight of floating matter collected during the year (A_15)

In July 2018 a new contract was signed for the maintenance of the marking and cleaning of floating matter. Only one cleaning operation was carried out in 2018.

Service to remove floating matter from the port’s water surface in the course of 2018:

  • Nº of craft: 1
  • Cleaning frequency: On request
  • Weight of the waste collected:
    • - Removal of floating material drifting in the navigation channel (January).
    • - Semi-sunk vessel near the Punta del Sebo (November).


Activation of the Internal Maritime Plan (IMP) (A_16)

Type Number
Number of sea pollution incidents not requiring activation of the IMP 0
Number of sea pollution emergencies requiring activation of the IMP. Certain concessions, with no need for activation of the Port's IMP ("Alert") 2
Number of sea pollution emergencies requiring activation of the Port's IMP (“Alert”) 2
Number of sea pollution emergencies requiring activation of the National Maritime Plan (“situation 1 or higher”) 0

* NB: Pursuant to the procedures established in the Huelva Port Authority’s IMP, activation of the IMP for any concession entails activation of the Port Authority’s IMP, or at least its alert phase.

** Activation of the APH IMP in Emergency Phase, Response Level 1.


Volume of wastewater discharges generated by the Port Authority, or discharges via collectors owned by the Port Authority, by types (A_17)

The activities of the Huelva Port Authority that generate wastewater discharges from:

  • Offices, Levante Wharf: ARU
  • South Wharf: ARU
  • Ingeniero Juan Gonzalo Wharf: ARI

The destination of that wastewater:

  • Municipal manifold: Offices, Levante Wharf (Rain)
  • Septic tank: South Wharf (Offices, the rest are clean rainwater)
  • Own treatment: Envisaged at Ingeniero Juan Gonzalo Wharf:

As already discussed, 93.5% of the discharge water comes from rainwater in the service area and it is therefore not feasible to quantify the discharged volume.

There are different clean rainwater points in the service zone, which does not require treatment and there are no devices to measure flow or volume.

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