Cuenca and Around
News Story - May 23, 2021

Cuenca needs to update its flood risk map

Johan Klok

Yanuncay river in Cuenca, Ecuador
The Yanuncay river after heavy rainfall.

According to civil engineer and hydraulic specialist Hugo Zamora, the latest floods caused by the rivers in Cuenca show that Cuenca needs to update its map with zones that are vulnerable to floods. An updated flood risk map helps to reduce future damage and can be used to improve early warning systems to evacuate the most exposed populations.

Italian company AMRA made the current flood risk map in 2010 and 2011 after it was commissioned by ETAPA, Cuenca's municipal utility company. AMRA's map mentions the following vulnerable locations.

  • Tomebamba river: Quinta de Balzaín, the Jefferson Pérez coliseum, and the El Paraíso park.
  • Yanuncay river: the Misicata bridge, LosTres Puentes, the vicinity of the Universidad del Azuay, and Gapal.
  • Machángara river: Patamarca and Ochoa León.
  • Tarqui river: the parishes of Tarqui and Victoria del Portete, the area where the Mall del Río is located, and the area where the Tarqui river converges with the Yanuncay river.
  • Cuenca river (the river into which all four rivers mentioned above converge): Ucubamba, Challuabamba, Guangarcucho, El Descanso.

According to Hugo Zamora, the municipality should add the following areas to the flood risk map: Carmen de Guzho, Zhucay, La Calera Baja, the Yanuncay Biocorridor, and various parks next to the Yanuncay river.

Adriana Albán, an environmental engineer, says that there are two reasons why new areas are prone to flooding.

  1. High in the mountains, where the rivers originate, the soil doesn't retain water as well as it used to do due to artificial modifications.
  2. Artificial interventions in the rivers. Removing rocks is an example. The result is that the water flows at a higher speed.

Source: El Mercurio.