According to experts, this summer saw the highest precipitation rate in Austria in half a century, which naturally aggravated the flooding problem. Austria started intensifying its flood prevention efforts already in 2002, when severe floods ravaged wide areas of Central Europe.
The EU Water Framework Directive and the EU Floods Directive, requiring a better coordination of flood control efforts between individual states within a region, further necessitated action. This gave rise to the interdisciplinary research project FloodRisk I, the BMLFUW’s Flood Risk Zoning Programme HORA and an increasing trend towards more eco-friendly flood control installations in keeping with the motto “more space to our rivers”.
In future, technical flood protection shall increasingly focus on settlement areas. During the presentation of the follow-up project FloodRisk II and prior to a technical symposium held at Vienna City Hall in late June, Infrastructure Minister Doris Bures and Environment Minister Nikolaus Berlakovich recalled past achievements.
After the 2002 flood disaster, for example, federal and regional governments introduced a 2.9-billion-euro package of measures for human and material property protection. At the same time, more responsibility was passed on to the population. “In 2007 a § 15a Agreement between the federal government and the provincial governments of Upper Austria, Lower Austria and Vienna came into force, requiring investments of 21 million € in flood protection facilities each year,” says Doris Bures, whose Ministry (BMVIT) is responsible for the waterways Danube and March.
BMVIT has now added another 14 million euro for the years 2009 and 2010. Until 2016, a total of 570 million € will be invested in better flood protection systems along the Danube (420 million €), the March (102 million €) and the Thaya (50 million €) rivers. The measures adopted along the March have already produced positive results as in summer 2009 the region remained unaffected by flooding.
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(Source: aqua press Int. 3/2009, Mag. Christof Hahn)