In the late 1990s, the Department of Water and Environmental Sciences and Techniques, part of the Advanced School for Civil Engineering, had two research groups:

– The Oceanographic and Coastal Engineering Group (GIOC), led by Professor Raúl Medina and which had been created at the beginning of that decade by Professor Miguel A. Losada

– The Group of Marine Outfalls and Environmental Hydraulics (GESHA), headed by Professor José Antonio Revilla

Both groups, in addition to teaching, engaged in considerable research and transfer activities for government agencies and companies that made them grow significantly.

The need to have an institutional framework that allowed for the growth and development of professional careers unrelated to the teaching activity, the Universidad de Cantabria’s efforts to start up research institutes, and the implementation of the Water Framework Directive led the professors and researchers of these groups to propose the creation of a Research Institute.

This endorsement by the university was associated with the Regional Government’s stated desire to develop a knowledge-based growth model for the region. This effort was led by SODERCAN and IDICAN under the direction of Salvador Blanco and José María Desiré, respectively.

The firm support of the then Vice-President of the Regional Government, Dolores Gorostiaga, was also crucial to this process.

Additionally, there were many other people involved in creating the Institute, both in the Regional Government and in the Universidad de Cantabria . They should not be forgotten, although they are not mentioned here by name.

Thus, on March 22, 2007, World Water Day, the Institute of Environmental Hydraulics of the Universidad de Cantabria was created. A team  of 70 people joined the institute, which was led by its first director, Professor Iñigo J. Losada.

As a joint research institute, the center was created through an agreement between the Universidad de Cantabria and a foundation of the regional public sector created specifically for this purpose, the Foundation for the Institute of Environmental Hydraulics (FIHAC)

While the research and transfer activity of this personnel was transferred to the Institute, all the undergraduated and postgraduated teaching activities remained in the Universidad de Cantabria´s School of civil engineering.

The first presidents of the board were the Counselor, Miguel Ángel Pesquera, and the Rector, Federico Gutiérrez-Solana. Between 2007 and 2011, IHCantabria occupied different offices within the School itself. In parallel, in 2007, the Government of Cantabria commissioned IHCantabria to prepare a proposal to build an experimental ocean tank as part of the new Map for Special Scientific-Technical Infrastructures sponsored by the then Ministry of Science and Innovation (MICINN), which was approved in the 3rd Conference of Presidents with the firm backing of the then President of Cantabria, Miguel Angel Revilla.

The CCOB, Cantabria Coastal and Ocean Basin, was one of the proposals selected after an international evaluation process.

The CCOB was inaugurated on March 22, 2011.

During this process, the direct involvement of the then Minister of Science and Innovation, Cristina Garmendia, and of an important group of Ministry officials was decisive.

In that same year, Professor Raúl Medina went on to become the director of the Institute.

After a run-in period, in 2014 the experimental installation was integrated into the National Map of Large Experimental Infrastructures.