Conflicts and struggles over urban water cycles: The case of Barcelona 1880-2004

Elena Domene, David Sauri Pujol, Eduard Masjuan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

32 Citations (Scopus)


Historical accounts of the development of a modern city have paid a great deal of attention to the evolution of the water supply and the sanitation systems while the recognition of water as an element of social power and political conflict remains less studied. This paper highlights the relationship between the water cycle and its management and social conflicts in the development of the city of Barcelona in the twentieth century. Necessities, perceptions, and visions of water have changed during the last century influenced by economic, political, social and environmental contexts, prompting a new water culture not free of contradictions. The Barcelona case also provides an opportunity to examine the discourses of public managers shifting from the supply-led strategies towards water-demand management approaches, the impact of the most polemical decisions related to water policy, and the vision of water as a source of social conflict. © 2008 Royal Dutch Geographical Society KNAG.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)426-439
JournalTijdschrift Voor Economische en Sociale Geografie
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2008


  • Barcelona
  • Historical account
  • Social power
  • Urban water
  • Water demand management
  • Water transfers


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