Buenos Aires: How the Maldonado stream went back to its bed

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The case of the Maldonado stream: The voice of a citizen

Imagine a busy metropolitan avenue crossing the length of Buenos Aires, Argentina, transited daily by buses and trains and lined with a large hospital, medical buildings, schools, shops and businesses.

Now imagine for 27 years this avenue flooding severely 37 times as if it were a river. During a flood, envision people being evacuated in motorboats, cars practically floating downstream, and cars and pedestrians on the bridge above it having to remain stranded there until the waters on the avenue below receded. It sounds implausible doesn’t it? Not for Buenos Aires residents it didn’t. The Juan B. Justo Avenue was such a thoroughfare.

The avenue used to flood so severely because underneath it, the Maldonado stream, an 8,500+ hectare basin, flowed only through a narrow and inadequate pipeline system dating back to 1939.

In 2008 a final design developed by local engineers and technicians emerged. It proposed to connect Maldonado’s existing pipeline to two 23-foot diameter tunnels that drain the flood waters into the Rio de la Plata. The project required US$192 million, of which US$120 million were funded by the World Bank.

In the video above, a local doctor recounts his experience of the devastating consequences left by previous floods, and how, in December 2012, this new system overcame a difficult test with flying colors.


Maria Madrid

Knowledge Management and Operations Office

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